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Here in Kogelo, a village on a red dirt track, among the hills of western Kenya, crowds began to arrive early in the morning.

Kogelo is home to the Obama family and people here like to point out that this is where Barack Obama’s roots lie.

The Obama family compound is a collection of modest cinder-block cottages surrounded by a wire fence. The fence was added since Barack Obama was elected president. A policeman prevented journalists from entering the family homestead, but groups of Kenyan schoolchildren were given tours, their teachers hoping to inspire the pupils to great achievements.

By mid-morning the sun was beating down on thousands of people milling around the recreation ground, an expanse of red dirt, ringed with tall, swaying eucalyptus trees.

At the “Senator Obama Primary School” tin-roofed classrooms were turned into makeshift restaurants selling tea and sodas, chapatis (flat bread) and mandazis (a deep-fried dough ball).
At the many stalls there was a brisk trade in Obama T-shirts and printed fabric. These items were snapped up by a busload of foreign tourists who showed up in Kogelo to join the local celebrations.

A festival atmosphere has taken over the town. Ahead of the inauguration party, the gathering crowd at the central recreation field was entertained by dancers, musicians, drama groups. A local soccer tournament was part of the festivities.

As sunset arrived, the crowd continued to swell to several thousand and the party mood grew, too. It is not yet clear how the inauguration events in Washington will be shown here but there are some electric generators around and it looks like a screen and lights will be thrown up at the last minute. 

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