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Page last updated at 12:20 GMT, Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Jubilation at Obama's Kenyan home

People celebrating Barack Obama's victory in Kogelo

By Juliet Njeri
BBC News, Kogelo

It took a few minutes for the historic news to register with the residents of Kogelo, a small village in western Kenya where the father of the next US president was born and raised.

But when the declaration that Barack Obama had won the US election finally sunk in, loud cheers and ululations rang out.

At least 100 residents had stayed up all night in the village centre, sheltering from a heavy downpour in tents set up by the village clinic to watch the results on a giant TV screen.

The sun rose bright and early and a few hours later, one of the village elders took the microphone to announce that Mr Obama had won the elections by an overwhelming majority.

Although they were thousands of miles away from the US, it was still a very personal win for them as they truly consider Mr Obama a son of Kogelo.

Sarah Onyango, Barack Obama's grandmother
If I laugh too hard, I'll die
Sarah Onyango
Barack Obama's step grandmother

"People of Kogelo come and celebrate, Obama has won," rang out on the loudspeakers as residents ran from their houses to join in the jubilant celebrations.

Children from the Senator Obama-Nyangoma Primary School burst out of their classes shouting and screaming with joy.

A prayer of thanksgiving was said - what they had prayed for had come to pass.

About 1.5km from the health centre, Sarah Onyango, the US president-elect's 86-year old step-grandmother, could not restrain herself and darted out of her house singing and dancing.

"If I laugh too hard, I'll die," she said.

This was the first time she had been seen since Sunday, when the family announced that they would not be receiving the media or visitors until the results were released.

The family had been holed up in their heavily guarded home watching the elections and results in private.

But there was nothing guarded about the euphoria and celebration that broke out after the results were announced.

Crowds of villagers hurriedly broke branches off trees and waved them wildly in the air as they sang songs of praise for their hero.

Feast planned

The wild cries only died down as they gathered to listen to his acceptance speech, with periodic shouts and cheers, especially when he mentioned his family in Kenya.

"Yes We Can," they chanted along with him, bursting with pride.

People kept pouring into the clinic's compound, driving the level of joyful noise even higher.

The shock hasn't set in that we're the first family
Barack Obama's half sister Auma
A section of the crowd rushed out of the gate and headed for the Obama homestead.

As they advanced, the gates flew open and finally the crowds could congratulate the family.

They danced around the compound and some headed straight for the modest, tiled grave of Obama Snr, Mr Obama's father, paying honour even in death.

Malik Obama, Mr Obama's half-brother, was carried shoulder high by the euphoric crowd as they sang: "Obama has raised the profile of Kogelo", in the local Luo language.

Then came the moment that everyone had been waiting for as the family finally emerged to address large group of local and foreign journalists camped outside the house.

Auma Obama made their excuses - after receiving the results, they had been trying to come to terms with what it all meant for them as a family.

Kogelo residents speak of their joy over Barack Obama's victory

"The shock hasn't set in that we're the first family," Mr Obama's half sister Auma Obama said.

"It has been a very tough race and we're very happy that he won."

Mr Obama's step-grandmother announced that there was going to be a grand feast, and joked that all types of food from around the country would be available.

A few metres away, tied to a tree, the bull that will be slaughtered for the feast chewed away at the grass, unaware of its impending fate.

He has done us proud, the family said, and the joy was evident in their wide smiles and easy manner.

They said they are definitely going to visit the president-elect and his family, although they had not started making plans.

Auma said she was looking forward to making chapattis - a local flatbread - in the White House with Michelle Obama. His grandmother says that is his favourite food.

Electricity arrives

She joked that with her brother's win, every member of the family could add the word "first" to their title - first sister, first grandmother, first niece.

But the family said it did not expect to be treated differently from any other in Kenya.

Kogelo residents watching the results on TV
Some residents watched the results on giant TV screens

"We're just a normal family and we don't expect anything. As my grandmother always says, Barack is just doing a job, a civil service job," Auma said.

But it seems the decision is already out of their hands.

Soon after the press conference ended, members of Kenya's state security team ushered people out of the compound.

And just outside the main compound, 20 teams of technicians from the Kenya Power and Lighting Company were preparing to lay down power lines to the compound.

The Obama family can expect to have electricity installed within a few days, the company says.

It seems change has come not just to the US and the White House, but to the simple and sleepy village of Kogelo as well.

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