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Obama clinches Democratic ticket in race for the White House

Story by NATION Reporters and AGENCIES
Publication Date: 6/5/2008

Mr Barack Obama, the US senator whose father was Kenyan, Wednesday made history by becoming the first African-American to win a major political party ticket to vie for the US presidency.

Senator Barack Obama Photos/ REUTERS

Mr Obama won over 2,154 delegates, 36 more than the 2,118 needed to secure the Democratic Party nomination.

His challenger, former US First Lady Hillary Clinton had 1,919 delegates, 199 less than the minimum needed to clinch the ticket.

The primaries season came to a close with nominations in South Dakota and Montana.

Mr Obama will compete against the Republican party’s presumptive nominee, Mr John McCain, in the November election.

President Kibaki Wednesday congratulated Senator Obama on his victory.

The President said the victory was proof of the faith and confidence the Democratic Party members had in his leadership.

The President on behalf of himself and the Government conveyed to the Illinois senator best wishes in his future political and leadership career.

Prime Minister Raila Odinga described Mr Obama’s victory as a momentous occasion in history.

“For the first time ever in the western world, a person of African heritage has been chosen by the people to run for the highest office in the land,” said Mr Odinga.

“I congratulate Senator Obama, a great son of America with Kenyan lineage, for having run a brilliant and uplifting campaign which won him support from men and women of all races.

“It is a moment Kenyans can savour with pride,” said the PM.

Kenyans in major towns stayed up late to witness Mr Obama make his televised speech during which he declared victory and said America faced a defining moment in the November presidential election.

Mr Obama’s father, Barack Obama senior, was born in Nyang’oma-Kogelo, Siaya District.

In 2006, Mr Obama visited Kenya, met President Kibaki and ODM leader Raila Odinga, now Prime Minister, and made a trip to Siaya. Shortly afterwards, his grandmother hinted at the senator running for the American presidency.

Wednesday, US President George W. Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice congratulated Mr Obama for winning the nomination.

But at the Obama home in Nyang’oma-Kogelo, news of  the senator’s nomination was received with low-key celebrations.

A handful of relatives and neighbours gathered at the family home to celebrate with Mr Obama’s grandmother, Sarah Hussein Onyango.

They said that the win did not come as a surprise but was expected since Mr Obama had waged an organised campaign.

“I heard of the news in the morning and I am very happy for him because it is good not only for me but all Kenyans because he belongs to them,” said Mr Obama’s grandmother.

After clinching the ticket, Mr Obama said: “America, this is our moment. This is our time. Our time to turn the page on the policies of the past.

“Our time to bring new energy and new ideas to the challenges we face. Our time to offer a new direction for the country we love.”

He was addressing a crowd of 32,000 people at a St Paul, Minnesota, hockey arena.

“Tonight we mark the end of one historic journey with the beginning of another — a journey that will bring a new and better day to America,” said Senator Obama, who was joined on stage by his wife Michelle, with whom he shared a celebratory fist-bump.

He described Mrs Clinton as someone who had an “unyielding desire to improve the lives of ordinary Americans.”

“Our party and our country are better off because of her, and I am a better candidate for having had the honour to compete with Hillary Rodham Clinton,” he said.

Mama Sarah Obama said the victory had demonstrated Mr Obama’s qualities as a friendly person who, despite his early success, retains his down-to-earth demeanour.

The Rev Jesse Jackson, a two-time US presidential candidate and long-time black civil rights leader, called Mr Obama’s march to capture the Democratic presidential nomination a “transformational moment.”

“It is a fulfilling moment to be in Africa trying to reconcile two continents so savagely torn apart by the slave trade … as a son of America and Africa becomes the de facto Democratic Party nominee,” the Rev Jackson, 66, said by telephone from Tanzania.

Changing America

“It says a lot about a growing, maturing changing America,” he said.

“Hillary and Barack became the conduits for which a more mature and a less toxic America was able to … express itself,” said the Rev Jackson, who was in Tanzania for a summit of African American leaders and their African counterparts.

He sought the Democratic presidential nomination in 1984 and 1988.

While he came up short, he scored upset victories in a number of states during the state-by-state nominating contest and did better than expected among white voters.

“We knew this (Obama) breakthrough was possible; we didn’t know when or who,” said Jackson.

Additional reporting by Walter Menya and Erick Oloo.



Obama’s Victory Speech

About SG

Secretary general of Chama Cha Mwananchi. This blog www.chamachamwananchi.wordpress.com, is based in Sweden.



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