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Viewing Obama from his Ancestral Kenya

January 19, 2010 at 12:00 AM EST
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One year into the Obama presidency, Tristan McConnell of the international news Web site Global Post looks at mixed feelings toward Barack Obama in Kenya, where his father was born.
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GWEN IFILL: Finally: looking at President Obama’s first year in office from farther away, the view from Kenya, where the president’s father was born, and also a nation coping with ethnic conflict and corruption.

Tristan McConnell of the international news Web site GlobalPost gathered these voices.

TRISTAN MCCONNELL: When Barack Obama took office, Kenyans celebrated that a black man with roots in their country had become president of the United States. He was a source of both pride and inspiration.

A year on, I went to find out what Kenyans think of the Obama presidency.

MAN: So far, no disappointments, I will say. We’re happy to have him as our president on the other side, and we’re happy to have him as part of our Kenyan lineage.

WOMAN: So far, Obama has not helped Kenya in any way.

WOMAN: I would like Barack Obama to check on the economy of Kenya, because Kenyans are so poor, our economy is so low, and it’s because of our leaders, and I will add, Kenyan leaders to stop corruption, so that he may help us in our economy.

MAN: If there is a desire of most Africans, and, to be particular, Kenyans, is that President Barack Obama may be tougher, so that his policies can help this country come out of a intensive care unit, so that it can be able to stand on its own.

WOMAN: I don’t think that people should put so much expectations, because this is just like any other president. We shouldn’t expect so much. But, as for Kenya, we also expected that he should also come and also build our economy a little.

MAN: Barack Obama is pushing our president and other officials to clear corruption in Kenya, so that we can get — have a peaceful country.

MAN: Our leaders could learn much more from Obama. And the one of — the first one is the determination when he was campaigning, “Yes, we can.” And that faith that we can, because, in any case, what’s troubling Africa, these problems are problems that can be solved by ourselves. One who can say it the way he say it, yes, we can solve these problems.