NAIROBI, KENYA — A group of Kenyan leaders have started a petition to persuade U.S. President-elect
Barack Obama, whose father was Kenyan and who has many relatives in Kenya, to serve as Kenya's president at the same time.
"We heard that he plans to fix America's economy," said Joseph Wambui, president of an organization called KNOB (Kenya Needs Obama Badly). “We want him to fix Kenya’s economy too.”
Almost 50 percent of Kenyans live in poverty, many of them unable to afford basic necessities. "We heard that Obama is the leader of the free world,” said Elizabeth Mbaru, a mother of three. “But there is nothing free in the world. We don't have money to buy it."
Wambui believes that Obama would have no trouble governing Kenya from Washington D.C., especially in the Internet Age. “We are a small country,” Wambui said. “He will be in charge of 50 states, so why not 51?”
Obama is believed to have 1,432 relatives in Kenya, twice as many as he did before he won the election. According to Wambui, Obama can boost Kenya's economy simply by wiring money to all his relatives for Christmas. "That would be a small step," Wambui said. "But if he's our president, we hope he will think of each of us as his relatives."
Many of Obama's relatives plan to attend his inauguration on Jan. 20. “Yes, we will definitely come,” said Anthony Obama, a sixth cousin. “I heard he has a big house. The rooms are so big, we can play football in them."
Added James Obama, a ninth cousin: "Please tell Brother Obama that we are looking forward to travelling in Air Force One. I want a window seat.”
Obama is so popular in Kenya that the country declared a national holiday on Nov. 6 to celebrate his election victory. No other country did so, though French President Nicolas Sarkozy did permit government employees to bring champagne to work.
Obama's victory put Kenyans into such a good mood that the government issued a warning to all hospitals to expect a baby boom in nine months. Many of those babies will be named after Obama and his wife, Michelle. Numerous babies have already been named after the couple. A Mombasa woman named her twins "Barack Obama" and "Michelle Obama," saying the names were just perfect for her boys.
A woman in northern Kenya, hearing that Obama will be the 44th president of America, named her baby daughter "Forty Four," while a Nakuru couple named their baby son "Defeat McCain."