An account of African inaugural celebrations in the DC area


by Nelima Kerré • I arrived in Maryland on Saturday morning. Since then I have been talking with Africans about their reactions to Obama’s presidency. Everyone is ecstatic, its Obama-mania out here. It’s as if there’s a renewed sense of hope for Africans. Obama may not be an African, but every African here is referring to him as ‘The Son of Our Soil’. There seems to be the expectation that Obama will somehow encourage African leaders to commit to their people and work with the grassroots, like he did.

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On Saturday night I went to a jam-packed Kenyan party at the Gallery in Maryland. Now Kenyans love to party, but this time round they seemed to be doing so with an extra gallon of vigour. The mix of Kenyan Djs from all over the US and Kenya made it impossible for anyone to leave the dance floor. The music was good and every once in a while the MC would say, “This one is dedicated to the Obama victory! Ndio Tuliweza! (swahili for Yes We Did!),” eliciting screams from the crowd. Many Kenyans are very disappointed in their own politicians, but hope that Obama will inspire them to act accordingly. “He has inspired me, maybe he will inspire our leaders,” said Jennifer, a student in Maryland.

Last night I had the opportunity to attend an African Inaugural Ball at the Hilton in Silver Spring, Maryland, which was hosted by the African Foundation. Everyone came out in their ‘Sunday-Best’ or should I say ‘Obama-Best’. The mood was extremely joyous at the very least. Stand-up comedian and journalist Edwin ‘Obama-s Cousin’ Okong’o had everyone in stitches. People say that Obama is Kenyan, we will only be sure that he is Kenyan if after serving two terms he changes the constitution to serve another, ” he joked.

Among the great line up of diverse artists was Baltimore resident Ikeme who played the Mbira, African dancers from Nova Scotia, Canada who brought the crowd to their feet with their performances as did Jamaican ‘Queen of Reggae’ Marica Griffiths when she led everyone in the electric slide as she sang her international hit song ‘ElectricBoogie’. All the participants volunteered their time for free. The officials of the African foundation are volunteers too. That’s an Obama effect right there. Also present was an elegantly dressed Nigerian ‘Oga’ (chief) and an employees from B.E.T, whose name escapes me right now. Will update later . The governor of Maryland delivered a message to the crowd via the Maryland Assistant Secretary of Higher Education and issued a certificate to Eyobong Ita, the president of the African Foundation in recognition of all their work for the African community in Maryland.

I met a fellow blogger Malcolm from London, he has an excellent review of the African Inaugural Ball on his blog. To read click here. Still inauguration is a day away and there are still more African parties. Stay tuned. I will try my best to keep you posted. I will also post some pictures and video later. What’s going on in your area? Please share.