Obama's gran brings traditional gifts

Time of article published Jan 18, 2009

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Nairobi - Barack Obama's African relatives will take a front seat when their most famous family member takes his oath as 44th president of the United States.

His 87-year-old grandmother Sarah Obama, who raised Obama's deceased father, was among several relatives who travelled from her home in Kenya to Washington on Friday. Other members of the large clan - Obama's father had eight siblings and four wives - are expected too.

Grandmother Sarah had already witnessed Obama's swearing in as senator in 2005 and still remembers the US capital with mixed feelings: "Much too cold!"

Maggie Obama, one of Obama's aunts and an Anglican pastor, is in the middle of packing for the trip to Washington.

Even Kenyans who have no link to Obama are excited about the prospect of a US president with Kenyan roots. Street vendors in Nairobi and other towns across the country have been selling US flags and Obama portraits for weeks.

"Hongera Barack Obama. Obama chaguo la Mungu" - Congratulations, Barack Obama. Obama, the will of God - says the print beneath Obama's picture.

And there will be a series of presents from Africa. Grandmother Sarah will bring her grandson one of the traditional three-legged stools that are given the tribal elders of the Luo people they belong to. A warrior shield and a traditional fly whisk made from goats' hair are also part of her luggage. - Sapa-DPA

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