Monthly Archives: October 2008


These smart energetic students may be too young to vote, but, that does not stop them from having their say on the issues, and candidates, of this year’s election.

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Yeah, yeah, I didn’t get to go. But, at least some people were able to enjoy the rockin’, rollin’ Proud Mary legend of Ms. Tina Turner. Here are some photos of her working the stage:






For more photos of Ms. Turner, click here:

Rock on, with your bad self, Ms. Tina!

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Here in Houston, the Citizens for Animal Protection (CAPS) held its own Howl-o-ween dog costume contest. There were so many that were great costumes. Even though Angel, a chocolate Labrador won First Place dressed as a pirate:


I still say Lucy, the Miniature Pug, deserved top honors for her outstanding costume:


Here’s a close-up of Lucy:


For more photos, click here:

Have a safe and delicious Halloween!

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Unlike other members of the Keystone State Skinheads, Keith Carney’s face isn’t blurred in online photographs and his name isn’t concealed to hide his identity.

He is, in many cases, the face of the KSS – this man of just 26 who is living and practicing his “white nationalist” philosophy in Northeast Philadelphia.


“White nationalist” instead of “white supremacist,” he said, because the KSS is attempting to move from a social club – the Keystone State Skinheads – to a “militant political organization” – Keystone United.


The name change suggests the kinder, gentler image that some white-supremacist organizations are chasing in an attempt to connect to mainstream culture.


Philadelphian Keith Carney is a member of the Keystone State Skinheads, which he joined soon after it was founded in 2001.
RACHEL PLAYE / Staff reporter
Philadelphian Keith Carney is a member of the Keystone State Skinheads, which he joined soon after it was founded in 2001.



“We don’t see ourselves as superior,” Carney said, in a recent interview, “and we don’t promote violence. You can’t intimidate people into thinking the way you do.”


Despite Carney’s talk of nonviolence, he has a lengthy criminal record that includes a 2004 conviction for ethnic intimidation and simple assault in Lackawanna County, for which he was sentenced to one to three years in prison.


Among Carney’s many cases that have moved through the court system is the May 2007 Philadelphia beating of a man who himself was a KSS affiliate, the 2003 assault of a black man in Scranton and the posting of white-supremacy stickers on Philadelphia war memorials.


Despite hasty actions in his past, today Carney is a man of carefully chosen words. In conversation, he never invokes racial epithets, and even goes so far as to call the tactics of other white-supremacy organizations, like the Ku Klux Klan, “goofy.”


But his mild language masks a disturbing belief among KSS members that all of America’s woes are a result of “the failed multicultural experiment we live in.”


“The socialist agenda, unrestricted capitalism and Zionist policies in the Middle East have increased crime and poverty,” Carney said. “The accomplishments of our ancestors [white people] are being minimized by Marxist/socialist groups, the biased media and schools.”


Carney, who joined the KSS shortly after it was founded in 2001 , said that he came to his beliefs not through his parents but through his experience as a white man in Philadelphia.

“People get this back-woods, ignorant stereotype, but that’s not who we are,” he said. “I’m from Philly and I’ve dealt with this [multiculturalism] firsthand. I see the effect it has on both sides of the fence and it’s not good.”


While Carney didn’t say what firsthand experiences led him to the KSS, he repeatedly espoused the idea that the KSS is just “speaking about what people are afraid to talk about outside of their own homes.”


Carney said that he believes that people naturally “segregate” themselves into groups, and that while certain subsectors of the white population have a right to socialize, such as the Irish or Italians, they cannot organize as “European-Americans” as a whole.


“It’s racist to acknowledge there even is a white community,” he said. “There’s nothing wrong with a black community, a Hispanic community or Chinatown.


“We just want fair and equal treatment.”


So, in an ironic twist, this white- supremacy group that discriminates against others believes that in some cases, it and its members are themselves victims of discrimination.


“We don’t want to take the victim’s stance, but we are put under a microscope compared to other groups,” Carney said. “Black groups can scream obscenities on Market Street, but we can’t gather peacefully?


“It’s perfectly acceptable to bash white people,” he said. “The race card has gone pretty far, and white people need to stand up and say that they’re not going to accept these things.”


Carney, who believes that a “race war” has been going on in this country for decades, doesn’t see it ending anytime soon.


“We’re definitely not going away,” he said. “And, obviously, with the atmosphere in the country, we’re not going to slow down.”*




“Kinder”. “Gentler”?

Yeah right.

And racist filth is still racist filth, no matter how you WS self-haters try to dress it up.


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The caption reads: Little, a Chihuahua owned by Liz Newton, of Salem, Mass., waits during the second annual “howl-oween”, a dog costume contest, at Fanueil Hall in Boston. Little won best of show.


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October 29, 2008                                                                     
KINDU SHABAZZ (804) 254-4132

The Black Candle:
A feature film about Kwanzaa screened in Richmond

Community strength, love and unity are reality in the realm of Kwanzaa.  On Saturday, November 29, 2008 at the Baptist General Convention of Virginia, the Richmond Kwanzaa Kollective will sponsor a screening of the first feature film on Kwanzaa, the Black Candle.  Narrated by world renowned poet Maya Angelou, the Black Candle has received enthusiastic response from thousands of viewers around the world.
Award-winning author, filmmaker and college professor M.K. Asante, Jr., who the Philadelphia Inquirer calls “a rare and remarkable talent”, will be on hand to discuss the Black Candle, which was filmed across the United States, Africa, Europe and the Caribbean.  The feature film is a timely illumination on why the seven principles of Kwanzaa (unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity and faith) are so important to African-Americans today.  More than 40 million African-American and Pan-African people participate in Kwanzaa as a reflection and celebration of the past, present and future. 
The Black Candle screening is a fundraiser for the Fourth Annual Kwanzaa Karamu (festivity and call for greater unity).   Refreshments will be served for the screening meet and greet at 4:00PM, and the Black Candle will be shown promptly at 4:30PM.  General admission is $7.  The cost for students, elders over 55 and children (6-13 years old) is $5.  Children 5 and under are free.  Tickets may be purchased in advance from the East District Family Resource Center located at 2405 Jefferson Ave in Churchill, Mr. G’s Body & Soul at 2nd & Marshall Streets (323 N. 2nd Street) downtown, and at the door.  The Baptist General Convention of Virginia is located at 1214 West Graham Road, Richmond, VA 23220 (next to Virginia Union University).
The Black Candle is a production of Asante Filmworx, an award-winning film production company that co-produced the internationally-acclaimed documentary 500 Years Later, winner of five international awards including the Breaking the Chains award from UNESCO. The official movie website for the Black Candle is .
The Black Candle
Directed by M.K. Asante, Jr.
Produced by M.K. Asante, Jr.
Ben Haaz
Kenny Gamble
Walter Lomax
Written by M.K. Asante, Jr.
Maya Angelou (poetry)
Narrated by Maya Angelou
Starring Chuck D
Maulana Karenga
Dead Prez
Kiri Davis
Amiri Baraka
Ursula Rucker
Jim Brown
Haki Madhubuti
Molefi Kete Asante
Music by Nnenna Freelon, Derrick Hodge
Release date(s) November, 2008
Language English


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Over the past few days, the Southern Poverty Law Center has been requested for their assistance by law enforcement agencies for their expertise on hate groups. With a black man running for the highest office of the land, the forces of racist hate have been coming out like pus from a ruptured running sore. Because of their history of compiling documentation and reports on hate groups across America, the SPLC is the vanguard of fighting against neo-Nazi, skinhead, WS groups.

Here is an excerpt of a report from the SPLC website on one of the accused skinheads who is involved in the racist group Supreme White Alliance (SWA), a newly-formed group headed by Steven Edwards:


by Mark Potok on October 28, 2008

SWA Ning pageDaniel Cowart, one of the two men arrested Friday in an alleged plot to assassinate Barack Obama and murder more than 100 people, was a member of a racist skinhead group formed earlier this year. The group, the Supreme White Alliance (SWA), posted a note after the arrests saying that a “probate” member ― clearly Cowart, although the site didn’t mention his name ― had been booted out some time ago.
SWA Ning pageCowart, in fact, is described as “member #3” of the SWA on the group’s Ning site (Ning is a social networking site), meaning he was the third to sign up for an account on that site. In “Daniel Cowart’s Supreme White Alliance page,” Cowart describes himself as “easy going and easy to get along with, as long as you are White!” In addition, a photo obtained by the Southern Poverty Law Center shows Cowart at a birthday party held for Adolf Hitler last April along with others linked to the SWA. The group is displaying a birthday cake marked with its SWA acronym.
SWA cake
It’s not clear if Cowart’s alleged partner, Paul Schlesselman, was a member or associate of the group. The SWA posting suggests that he is not.
The two men were arrested after federal agents uncovered what they described as a plot to go on a multi-state “killing spree.” In an affidavit, the ATF said that the two, both of whom it described as holding “strong” white supremacist beliefs, had met via the Internet in late September. They later got together and allegedly decided to kill 88 people, followed by beheading another 14 African Americans. (The numbers are neo-Nazi codes representing white supremacist slogans.) Officials said they also intended to target a predominantly black high school, a gun store, and individuals who they planned to rob to raise money.
The final act, according to the affidavit, was to come when both men dressed in white tuxedoes and top hats and attempted to shoot Obama as they drove toward him while shooting through the windows, agents said. Both men fully expected to die in their final attack.
The SWA Ning site also carries a page showing “Daniel’s Friends,” belonging to Daniel Cowart, that lists as a friend Steven Edwards (posting as “Stevenfuckit08″), the current president of SWA. Edwards is the son of Ron Edwards, who is the imperial wizard, or national leader, of the Imperial Klans of America (IKA), based in Kentucky. The Southern Poverty Law Center is currently involved in civil litigation with Ron Edwards and the IKA over the beating of a teenage boy in 2006. The case is scheduled for trial on Nov. 12.

Edwards was also profiled in ABC’s Nightline last night:



by Brian Ross, Avni Patel, Vic Walter, Anna Schecter and Megan Chuchmach
The prospect of a Black president has America’s bastions of hate in an uproar. Leaders, including the wizard of the Imperial Klans of America, Ron Edwards, have long warned the white race is under attack and must be defended. Federal authorities say web sites have featured ugly calls to target Senator Barack Obama.
And twice now since August, two sets of self-proclaimed neo-Nazi skinheads have been caught in what officials say were feeble but still troubling plots to assassinate Obama.
“If Obama is elected president, these people see the world as they know it to end,” said Morris Dees, co-founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center.
In the most recent case, federal agents say two men, Daniel Cowart and Paul Schlesselman, planned to go on a killing spree against more than a hundred African Americans and then, they told the Secret Service, go out in a blaze of glory, dressed in white tuxedos and top hats during the assassination attempt. Cowart is described as the leader.
“His views are strongly Neo-Nazi,” said Dees, “which explains why he wants to kill black people and why he’s ultimately interested in the assassination of Sen. Obama.”
Cowart and Schlesselman told the Secret Service they met using the website of a new hate group, the Supreme White Alliance, a next generation of neo-Nazis and racist skin heads.
“We’re being discriminated against just because we believe in our white rights,” said Steven Edwards of Muhlenberg County, Kentucky, who is considered the leader of the Supreme White Alliance.
Like his father, the Klan wizard before him, Edwards represents yet another generation of Americans who find comfort in hate. It is a fringe group, but one that will be even more closely watched if the country elects as President a mixed-race Black man who represents all they fear.
In an contentious interview with ABC News Chief Investigative Correspondent Brian Ross on Nightline Tuesday, Edwards said that the assassination plot alarmed him and he sought to portray his group as a social club, with no ties to two men under arrest.
(Click here to watch the Nightline report: )



white racists
A generation of Neo-Nazis and racist skinheads may be on the fringe, but will be even more closely watched if the country elects Barack Obama as Preisdent, who represents all they fear.

(ABC News Photo Illustration)

Social Club or White Power Group?

“We are a club, so we get together, socialize, more of a social type thing for people of the same views,” said Edwards. “Do we hate? No we don’t hate. We hate certain people and things that go on in the world.”



But Edwards sings a different tune, one of extreme hate, when he is with his followers. He is a kind of rock star on the hate circuit for his song “No Mercy”, performed at what are called Nordic fests, a Woodstock for the Neo-Nazi, skinhead set.



“What about the Jews? No mercy!,” Edwards is seen singing in a video from a concert three years ago. “What about the spics No Mercy? What about the N*****s? No Mercy! What about the Faggots? No mercy? What about the Traitors? No mercy!”



But when asked about the song by ABC News, Edwards replied, “I didn’t write that song.”


“People, like us, we like to joke, that’s pretty much a joke,” Edwards said shortly before trying to stop the interview. Edwards stormed off at least four times during the ABC News interview after becoming upset over questions about his club’s racist views.



“They have what they call a public front, to tell you that hey, we’re not violent, we don’t promote violence, we’re just interested in getting our views across, representing white people’s interest and free speech,” said Dees. “But they have a private side represented by the Dan Cowart and his associate, this individual in this case, these groups would certainly never never admit.”



Edwards says the man arrested in the Obama death plot, Daniel Cowart, was never a full member of the Supreme White Alliance, the SWA. But Cowart is seen pictured at a SWA party this April to honor the birthday of Adolph Hitler.



Edwards say Obama, for his race, is a smart man, and that he is opposed to any effort to kill him, but he again tried to stop the interview when asked if he would call the police if a member of his group expressed any desire to harm Obama.



While most white supremacist groups have drawn the line at mentioning violence against Obama, a recent example shows that some long-kept quite feelings of hate groups are beginning to emerge, according to equality advocates.




Hate Beginning to Emerge?

While most white power groups have drawn the line at mentioning violence against Obama, a recent example shows that some long-kept quiet feelings of hate groups are beginning to emerge, according to equality advocates.



“Most white supremacist groups are trying to figure out how they can make hay out of an Obama presidency,” said Southern Poverty Law Center director Mark Potok, who is in charge of the center’s Intelligence Project.



A prime example, said Potok, is Bill White, the self-described neo-Nazi and leader of the American National Socialist Workers Party who was indicted last week for allegedly soliciting injury to a member of a jury that convicted a white supremacist four years ago for soliciting the murder of a federal judge in Chicago. The case revolves around White’s alleged posting of the juror’s home address and phone numbers to a website that officials have since taken down.






But there is an item marked as an exhibit inside the criminal complaint which stands out: a full-color magazine cover showing an image of Democratic Presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama waving to a crowd, targeted by a swastika and a rifle’s crosshairs. Bold words read, “Kill This N*****?”



The complaint says the cover was posted on White’s website on Sept. 9, 2008, along with a comment which sought $10,000 to print 20,000 copies of it before the upcoming election.



The Illinois office of the U.S. Attorney would not comment about the magazine cover or its relevancy to the current charge against White.


As the historic race to the White House nears to an end, Deborah Lauter, civil rights director of the Anti-Defamation League, said tension is mounting and “everyone is on high alert.”



She said yesterday’s arrest of the two Tennessee men is of great concern.



“What it showed us is that white extremists who have a propensity to act out during a presidential campaign in fact were prepared to do that,” said Lauter, adding that the incident showed that “our fears unfortunately can be realized.”



The SWA said that while one of the men was affiliated with the SWA earlier this year, he has since been ousted, and the alliance has not been in contact with either Cowart or Schlesselman.



White isn’t making any statements at this time, but his attorney, Bill Cleaveland, said “he is preparing to defend himself on the charge.”



White told the New York Times last month that he was planning to use an $8,000 donation from a Michigan supporter to print and distribute 20,000 copies of the magazine cover on the latest issue of The Nationalist Socialist to white working-class neighborhoods. The Times article said White “said the cover was satirical and pointed to a subheading that read, “Negro Deification and the ‘Obama Assassination’ Myth”.”



He gained notoriety for his extreme comments and internet postings, including one in which he essentially encouraged the lynching of the Jena 6, according to the FBI. This recent criminal complaint in White’s case says the web site that he maintained until the FBI recently shut it down contained editorial comments of concern, such as anti-Semitic rants and references to lynchings.



White, who lives in Roanoke, is currently jailed without bond in the Roanoke City Jail in the custody of the U.S. Marshals, while he awaits extradition to federal court in Chicago. His attorney said White will fight the transfer so that he can take care of his local rental properties and his wife and 8-month old daughter.



The Illinois office of the U.S. Attorney says a tentative arraignment date for White in Chicago is set for Nov. 12.




Teri Whitcraft, Asa Eslocker, Joanna Jennings, and Rehab El-Buri contributed to this report.



For those out there who think that racist skinheads, neo-Nazis and the KKK are a shadowy thing of the past—–think again. Racist hatred is not emerging from some subterranean depths. Racist hatred has been simmering all along, underneath the surface.

Racist hatred as been in America for over 400 years.

Racism has always reared its virulent head when major, positive changes have occurred in America.

This is not the first time.

It will not be the last time.

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Yea! Good news for Google, authors, publishers and book lovers everywhere. The settlement against Google over copyright infringement on written literary works, ends the legal action that was taken against Google over two years ago, and settles a lawsuit that had been followed closely by the publishing industry in how copyrighted written materials should be handled online, and how online books affected an author’s financial compensation for their books. If approved, by the middle of next year, this agreement between Google, authors and publishers will expand online access of books, and give increased exposure to the millions of books that many people had to scour libraries and bookstores to find. It will also allow authors to keep rights over written material they release to the public, as well as receive monetary payment for their books presented online by Google.
Now that the lawsuit has been settled, Google (and authors and publishers of literary works) can get down to digitizing more books online for readers (both old, and new).
Even out-of-print (OOP) authors can receive a new generation of readers of their books.  Readers will still have to pay to obtain some author’s books (either via, Barnes &, Books-A-Million, to name a few), but, many books can be viewed either in full view (the entire book) or snippets, to whet the appetite to buy the book.
Many full view books are available on Google’s site:
OOP books (author is deceased; the copyright has lapsed):
-“Uncle Tom’s Cabin“, Harriet Beecher Stowe
-“The Souls of Black Folk“, W.E.B. DuBois
Even non-OOP books (author still living, copyright still extant) are available:
-“Black Soldier, White Army: The 24TH Army Infantry Regiment in Korea”, by William T. Bowers
Encyclopedias are also available:
-The Encyclopedia Americana: A Library of Universal Knowledge – Complete in 30 Volumes
to name just one.
Archival magazine articles are also available, as well:
-“The Nation”
The site has info on each book that includes the following:
-about this book;
-add to my library;
-more editions
The books can either be downloaded in PDF, or viewed/read in plain text. The Google site even shows a map of places mentioned in a particular book, as well as mentions books referenced by other books. The Google site also explains the three types of books that appear on its site (in-copyright and in-print books; in-copyright and out-of-print books; and out-of-print books) and how it handles each type of book, due to the lawsuit.
All-in-all, a win-win for everyone.
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, October 29, 2008


Search engine giant Google yesterday announced that it had settled a pair of lawsuits that accused the company of copyright infringement, signaling a new chapter in how books could be read and purchased online.


Google said it would pay $125 million to end a fight with the Association of American Publishers and the Authors Guild, which had filed lawsuits after Google began scanning millions of works to the Web four years ago.
Part of that amount, $34.5 million, will be spent by Google to establish a “Book Rights Registry” to make sure that authors are compensated for the use of their works. The registry would work like ASCAP and BMI, which oversee payments to songwriters and musicians for the use of their creations. The deal also establishes payments to the authors of works that have already been scanned into Google Book Search.
Tech industry analyst Michael Gartenberg said Google may have learned a lesson from the lawsuit.
Google is “going to need to do this in cooperation with the people who own the copyrights, and cooperation is pretty much going to mean paying for those rights,” said Gartenberg. “Even if you’re Google, you can’t just do what you want whenever you want to do it.”
The search engine had argued that its Google Book Search did not infringe on copyright laws under “fair use” guidelines that allow for the quotation of works. Google said that doctrine applied to its in-the-works project because Web users were not able to read a work from start to finish in the service’s original implementation.
Under the terms of the new agreement, through Google, consumers would be able to buy books that are out of print but retain their copyrights. The company would pay the registry 63 percent of any revenue derived from an author’s works, such as advertising placed next to online book pages.
Google dubbed the settlement “historic.”
“The tremendous wealth of knowledge that lies within the books of the world will now be at their fingertips,” the search engine’s co-founder, Sergey Brin, said in a statement.
The settlement is subject to approval by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. The proposal is, however, expected to receive the court’s blessing by the middle of next year.
Publishers said yesterday that the settlement would be a boon to authors and readers, though it is too early to know much about the size of the potential business.
“No one can really know how big this market is going to be,” said Richard Sarnoff, chairman of the Association of American Publishers.
Some authors are hoping that Google’s project will help them reach new audiences.
“If you’re an author with out-of-print books, this is going to give your book new life,” said Paul Aiken, executive director of the Authors Guild. “This will allow authors to find new readers in any number of ways.”

Under the agreement, colleges and universities would pay for full access to the titles in Google’s database, and public libraries would get that access for free; consumers searching from home would get limited excerpts, with the option to buy a complete work.

For more information on Google books, here are official Google websites:
Google Book Search:
Google Book Search Settlement Agreement:


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It is one thing to make a fool of yourself in front of your family/community/town. To do it before the whole world, well, that’s just priceless:


And the correct term is “Muslim”, not muslin.

Learn the difference:

-Muslim: a follower/adherent of Islam

-muslin:  a plain-woven sheer to coarse cotton fabric

For the umpteenth time. . . .Obama is not a Muslim. He is a Christian.

If you are going to insult a person, spell your words right before you plant signs of your ignorance all over your front yard.


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You often hear about Obama’s maternal white grandmother, Madelyn Dunham.

How often do you hear about his other grandmother? The black Kenyan grandmother?

Then again, if Obama spoke more of his paternal Kenyan grandmother, there would probably be caterwauling from malcontents that he cares more for black Africans in Kenya than he does American citizens.

“Last August, Italian Vanity Fair “discovered” Barack’s half-brother George, who lives in the marginalized outskirts of Nairobi; his plight was sensationalized by international media and in turn exploited by conservatives who suggested that the candidate doesn’t care for his own family.”

So, I guess George was some island sitting in the middle of the ocean that did not know where it was, and therefore, it took Italian Vanity Fair to discover him and tell him where he was. The pompousness is unbelieveable, even in this day and age.

Some people also know of Obama’s half-sister, Maya Soetoro-Ng. Now why did not this reporter seek out Obama’s half-brother, George, who lives in Nairobi, and get his take on Obama’s campaign? I would like to have learned more about him as well. (From what little I have found on the internet, George Hussein Onyango Obama, is Obama’s father’s 5th wife’s son, and George and Obama have met at least once. George has been stated as having said that he holds no ill feelings against Obama in any way, that he wishes Obama success to win the election, and that Obama owes him nothing because of Obama’s accomplishments in life in America.)

Here is an article on Obama’s grandmother, Sarah Obama.



What it means to be an Obama in Africa


KOGELO, Kenya—Last Sunday morning, while Barack Obama stumped in Colorado, his paternal grandmother, 86-year-old “Mama Sarah” Obama, stood before a microphone and a crowd of several hundred villagers on a plot of land in Kogelo. Beside her was Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga, whose helicopter had descended unexpectedly onto her tin-roofed homestead moments earlier. Streams of excited villagers ran across the surrounding corn and cassava fields and from a soccer game at Senator Barack Obama Secondary School.
Odinga addressed the crowd and the Kenyan TV cameras that followed him in Luo, the local tongue: “Today we have gathered here to say hello to Mama Sarah. The boy from here, he’s gone to compete. We are praying for him so that he succeeds. Are you happy with Obama?”
“We are happy!” the crowd responded.
“Are you happy with him?”
“We are!”
Though I may have been the only person for miles around who actually has a vote in the U.S. presidential election, the occasion seemed oddly like a campaign rally. In a sense, it was. For Prime Minister Odinga, who, like the Obamas, belongs to the Luo tribe, and whose loss in a tainted presidential election last December touched off devastating ethnic violence, the appearance with Sarah Obama was not only an expression of solidarity, but also unambiguous political groundwork for what he might one day claim as a direct channel to the White House. For Obama’s grandmother, the arrival of the Kenyan prime minister was another indication of how the phenomenal rise of an Obama child has changed the lives of the other Obama family half a world away.
“At the beginning, I thought it was something that would be short-lived, but it’s been getting bigger every day,” Obama’s uncle Said had told me earlier that day on the drive from the provincial city in Kisumu for what I expected would be a quiet interview with the family matriarch. “It will continue to be a major preoccupation—or maybe my employment.” Said wasn’t referring only to his changed daily routine, which now involves rising at 4 a.m. to track the latest U.S. campaign news on Anderson Cooper 360—”people will ask me to comment on a development, and I don’t want to be caught unawares”—before a full workday as a technician for a spirits company, followed by night school for his business management degree. Said was also referring to what it has meant, and what it may mean for at least the next four years, to be an Obama in Kenya: the frequent visits from people asking for money or help getting a U.S. visa; the requests to help sponsor scholarships for study in the United States; and the random pale faces, African dignitaries, and international journalists that have been arriving at Mama Sarah’s home on a daily basis for the last year, paying respects and seeking favors and quotes.
“You can’t fail to see there’s a perception that we are in a better place economically,” Said said. “People know that if you are in a senior position, you become rich. Leaders here steal. But our lives go on. We are a hardworking family. We should not just stand idly and think Barack is going to fix everything for us.”
A 36-year-old cousin of Barack’s, a hairdresser in Nairobi who has returned to Kogelo to support Mama Sarah during the final weeks of the campaign, told me that he tries to maintain a low profile. “I won’t be able to walk freely,” he said, asking that his name not be publicized out of concern for both unwanted attention and personal safety. His girlfriend, he added, doesn’t even know about his family ties to the U.S. senator. “She might think I’ve been hiding money from her. She’ll expect a lot.” Last August, Italian Vanity Fair “discovered” Barack’s half-brother George, who lives in the marginalized outskirts of Nairobi; his plight was sensationalized by international media and in turn exploited by conservatives who suggested that the candidate doesn’t care for his own family. Because of the widely brachiated nature of the Kenyan Obama family tree, as for many traditional African families, notions of family are very complicated. Certainly, the Obamas that Barack seems closest with appear loved, financially secure, and not at all resentful.
A perception of family wealth was likely the motive of an attempted burglary of Mama Sarah’s home in September. When I arrived at the homestead, I was met by armed Kenyan police officers posted behind a newly erected 8-foot fence. I was asked to sign a visitors log. Hundreds of names from all over the world had filled the book since the first entry on Sept. 16. The guards were securing what may be the world’s most modest gated compound: With the exception of a small solar panel on the corrugated tin roof of Mama Sarah’s two-room home, the most obvious signs of affluence appeared to be a pair of cows, which mooed as I walked in.
Mama Sarah’s living room had obviously been configured to accommodate visiting delegations. Several wood couches and chairs were neatly arranged arm-to-arm around the perimeter of the cement floor, their cushions covered by plain white cloths with embroidered fringes. A television draped in a decorative cloth sat atop a table in one corner, and a life-size photo cutout of a smiling Barack presided over the room from another. Other Barack memorabilia and family portraiture hung from the walls: a framed black-and-white image of Barack Obama Sr., an image of Sasha and Malia Obama watering a seedling in front of a Masai tribesman while Barack snapped a picture, and an autographed poster from Barack’s Illinois state Senate campaign, signed, “Mama Sarah: Habari! And Love.”
“Barack is a good listener,” Mama Sarah told me. “He is somebody who pays attention to the plight of people. With those kinds of attributes, I think he will be in a better position to sort out the problems that are bedeviling the world. I think he’s got all it takes to be a world leader.” Clearly reining in her normally spontaneous personality, Mama Sarah was proud and on-message: “We are leaving everything to God. We know it’s been a long wait, and, God willing, we hope that everything is going to be OK.”
The day before, in Kisumu, I was talking about Obama to a boatman on Lake Victoria when a nearby car radio blared the following judgment: “God has already chosen Obama on Nov. 4! Who are you to say no?” Nowhere in Kenya—perhaps nowhere in the world outside of blue-state America—is there more optimism about an Obama victory as in Kisumu, a predominantly Luo city on Kenya ‘s western border with Uganda, which still bears the scars of last winter’s election violence. Indeed, the widely held fear that vote-rigging on Nov. 4 could snatch the election from Obama reflects the lingering sentiment among Luos here that Kenya’s tainted presidential election—in which Odinga officially lost to Mwai Kibaki—was stolen from them. I’ve been asked several times, “Do you think John McCain can steal the votes?”
Obama’s likeness appears on watch faces, key chains, posters, T-shirts, calendars, and women’s shoes. Hawkers offer CDs of Obama-inspired reggae and Luo songs in the open-air bus depot. Mockups of $1,000 bills with Obama’s portrait filling the oval are plastered on public minivans. (“I just asked the designer to pimp the van, and it came back like this,” the driver told me.) A generation of newborns named “Obama” are entering the world. A schoolteacher in a local village says her students sing Obama songs: “He is a genius/ He is a hero/ He comes all the way from Africa/ To go compete in the land of the whites/ He makes us proud/ For at least he’s made Africa known to the world.” The campaign 8,000 miles away has been closely observed. When I arrived in town, my tuk-tuk driver offered punditry of the third debate: “For the first 20 minutes, it was competitive and McCain was good, but then Obama was much smarter.”
Daniel Otieno, the local bureau chief of Kenya’s the Nation newspaper, believes the fierce partisanship is a legacy of the area’s early bullfighting days, when Luo clans rallied behind their favored bull. “Barack Obama is their bull,” he says, adding that “a victory on Nov. 4 will be felt as a consolation for the Kenyan election.” Bundled with that pride is an exaggerated expectation that Obama will support Kenya, and especially the Kisumu area, currently crippled by the country’s highest incidence of HIV/AIDS. Unemployment here is rampant, and many of the young and jobless I spoke with believe an Obama presidency will directly improve their lives—a belief that I hope does not turn into resentment if and when they are disappointed.
While the TV cameras rolled in front of Mama Sarah’s home, Prime Minister Odinga attempted to temper these expectations. “Kenyans know that Barack will be first and foremost the president of the United States of America, not a Kenyan president in the United States.” He added, “Under an Obama presidency, trade and investment between Kenya and the United States will increase. Kenyans hope that there will be more scope for cooperation. We also think that Africa will get more attention than it has received in the past.”
With that, Odinga and Mama Sarah walked toward the car that would drive the prime minister to his helicopter. He was a step ahead of her, and just as it seemed he was about to get into the car, a reporter reminded him that Mama Sarah was behind him, anticipating a goodbye. Odinga turned, offered a warm and genuine embrace, and then drove out of the compound.
The villagers dissipated, the reporters disassembled their tripods and climbed into SUVs, and Mama Sarah headed toward the house. Said called out, “Intercept her!” Then he led her by the arm to a waiting chair in the shade of an avocado tree, where a Canadian TV crew was setting up for an interview.
Obama merchandise for sale in Kisumu. Click image to expand.
Obama merchandise for sale in Kisumu


Sarah Onyango Obama in her living room in Kogelo, as her grandson's likeness stands in the corner. Click image to expand.
Sarah Onyango Obama in her living room in Kogelo, as her grandson’s likeness stands in the corner


Sarah Onyango Obama reading Kenyan press coverage of the U.S. campaign at her rural homestead in Kogelo. Click image to expand.
Sarah Onyango Obama reading Kenyan press coverage of the U.S. campaign at her rural homestead in Kogelo


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