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Kenyans take pride in Obama's Nobel Prize

Many consider it a win for Kenya, where Obama's father was born, even as they acknowledge insecurity in their country.

October 10, 2009|Edmund Sanders

NAIROBI, KENYA — In Kenya, the birthplace of President Obama's father, word of the Nobel Prize was greeted by many as a hometown victory. Since his election last year, Obama, whose grandmother and half siblings still live in the East African country, has been a source of pride and inspiration to Kenyans, many of whom are bitterly disappointed by the corruption and ineffectiveness of their own leaders.

"It's another win for Kenya and for Africa," said Kenyan student Julius Omondi, 19, saying it was Kenya's second Nobel Prize in five years.

In 2004, Kenyan Wangari Maathai became the first African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize when she was recognized for her work in battling deforestation and promoting conservation.

Some said they found it ironic that a Kenyan and now a half-Kenyan have been honored for their peace work, even as the country itself remains mired in insecurity.

Ethnic tensions remain high after a disputed 2006 presidential election led to violence and riots that killed more than 1,000 people. Kenya's political leaders have done little to heal the wounds, and last week former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan warned that the nation could plunge into renewed violence unless leaders prosecute culprits and reform political institutions.

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edmund.sanders@latimes.com

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