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Yes you did!

Published on 06/11/2008

6 November 2008

WORLD – Barack Obama’s former classmates cheered in Indonesia, Australians loaded up on Obama blend coffee, Kenyans took to the streets to celebrate and the Obama Boys of Obama, Japan danced as the world erupted in festivities over the Democratic candidate’s presidential victory.

From Paris and Berlin to Sydney and Tokyo, the convincing victory by president-elect Obama was hailed around the world by world leaders and ordinary people. People of African descent around the world cheered the first election of an African-American US president and the ascent of the child of an African immigrant who was not even a household political name a few years ago.

At 2:30 a.m. Wednesday, the people gathered in a small private club near the Champs Elysees in Paris began clapping, cheering and chanting "Yes, we can," the slogan of the Democrat Barack Obama when CNN announced that Pennsylvania turned blue.

"This is an extraordinary moment for the American people," said Patrick Lozes, who attended the party.

In Berlin, dozens of parties rocked into the wee hours of the morning, with Americans, Germans and others cheering as one state after another went for Obama. When CNN announced that Obama had won, the cheers and shouts were deafening.

"I can’t believe it," said Jane M., an American watching the results at the Babylon theatre in Berlin, tears of joy streaming down her face. "I just can’t believe it."

Germans at the party were just as thrilled.

"Today we are all Americans," said Klaus M., watching the results.

While the emotional focus of the day was firmly in the United States, where crowds of jubilant Obama fans packed streets across the country, citizens of many other countries were more than happy to celebrate Obama’s victory.

"This is a momentous day not only in the history of the United States of America but also for us in Kenya," said Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki in a statement. "The victory of Senator Obama is our own victory because of his roots here in Kenya. As a country, we are full of pride for his success."

Obama’s father came from Kenya and his grandmother still lives in the small town of Kogelo. Even though Obama has never lived in Kenya, many claimed him as one of their own. In downtown Nairobi and in Kibera, one of Africa’s largest slums, people dressed in suits on their way to work joined those who had stayed up all night watching the election returns to dance and chant Obama’s name.

Meanwhile, in Indonesia, where Obama attended school as a child, former classmates gathered to watch election returns and fete Obama’s victory.

Dewi Asmara Oetojo, who was a schoolmate of Obama when he went to a primary school in Jakarta in the 1960s expressed the feelings of the Illinois senator’s old school friends: "It’s just amazing. We’re so proud of him," she said.

Asmara, who is a member of Indonesia’s parliament, said she never thought Obama had leadership qualities but remembers the boy as an easygoing person and also "very wise."

Hundreds of students at Obama’s old school, the Menteng 1 primary school, celebrated Obama’s election win by shouting "Long live Obama," and "Obama wins! McCain loses!" as classes were stopped to watch the election coverage on local television.

"It’s just great. We’re very happy and proud to have Barack Obama win the election," headmaster Kuwadiyanto said, adding that there was an emotional connection between the students and Obama.

Japanese supporters might have shown the most enthusiasm. Not only did the 14 members of the Obama Boys of Obama, Japan, plan a show including hula dancing to celebrate Obama’s victory, but supporters created a whole line of dishes around the victor, including Obama bean-paste cakes, Obama sushi, Obama noodles, Obama fish burgers and Obama chopsticks

"We cannot lose to (Republican candidate John) McCain," Yasuyoshi Maeno, leader of the Obama Boys, said as he raised his fist in the air. "We will absolutely win this game!"

The win deeply resonated in France, where members of the Representative Council of Black Associations in France (CRAN) said they hoped the victory of an African-American in the United States could lead to greater representation for people of African descent in France.

"I want this moment also to bring change in the lives of our people. I want this moment to send a message to French politicians, and especially President (Nicolas) Sarkozy," said Lozes.

Celebrations echoed around the world. Democrats in Beijing erupted into shouts of "We did it" as the news of Obama’s victory reached them. Thai supporters hefted beers in packed bars. Germans crowded into events across the country and Poles participated in mock ballots.

Expatriate American supporters of Obama were especially excited.

"I’m optimistic about Obama because there is only one way to go from where we are now," said Jerrod Haguet, a former official at the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia-Pacific, who has spent the past 30 years in Bangkok. "I think for all Americans the last eight years have been a disaster."

Opponents of the current Bush administration around the world say they hoped for a marked change from its policies while Democrats abroad said they looked forward to no longer being accosted about their nation’s policies by locals.

Indeed, several ambassadors broke protocol at election-night events and expressed their excitement for Obama’s win.

Congratulations also poured in from world leaders the world over.

The British Labour government and Conservative opposition Wednesday hailed the outcome as "inspirational".

Chinese President Hu Jintao said he looked forward to working with Obama.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy said: "In choosing you, the American people have chosen change, openness and optimism."

[dpa / Expatica / JB]