Much of the World Applauds Obama

From Kenya to Britain, Indonesia to Korea, many people see signs of hope.

ByABC News
November 5, 2008, 10:59 AM

LONDON, England, Nov 5, 2008— -- With unprecedented news coverage worldwide, this year's presidential election had already captured the globe's attention. Now, it has delivered a winner who is capturing the world's imagination.

World leaders, normally diplomatic in their official statements, were unusually effusive in their praise for President-elect Barack Obama.

"I applaud the American people for their courage and the great morality that they showed," Afghan President Hamid Karzai said.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy was even more glowing in a letter to Obama: "In choosing you, the American people have chosen the path of change, openness and optimism. Your election raises immense hope in France, Europe and beyond: the hope of an open America."

Nelson Mandela, as qualified as he is complimentary in his comments, gushed, "Your victory has demonstrated that no person anywhere in the world should not dare to dream of wanting to change the world for a better place."

Newspapers at first stumbled over each other to declare Obama the winner, and then to find the language to match the moment.


The sense of global excitement is palpable in Britain, the United States' closest ally. Even before the results officially came in, the British press was both confident and biased: Headlines read "Gobama!" (Daily Mirror); "The History Man" (The Independent); and "Yanks Very Much" (The Star).

Obama's victory is being especially heralded among the young in London. "Obama is an inspiration, especially as an orator," 23-year-old Alexandra Demper told ABCNews. "We can't quite say what the effects will be for Britain yet, but it is a great change for America."

Of course, not everyone is pleased with the result. A taxi driver and former police officer told ABCNews: "An amateur is now the most powerful person in the world. A salesman is all Obama is. He has no experience in foreign affairs."

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown sent his "sincere congratulations" to the U.S. president-elect, saying Obama would be a "true friend to Britain."

Meanwhile, the leader of the opposition, David Cameron, said Obama's victory has restored America's status as a "beacon of hope."


But nowhere in the world was the news greeted with more emotion than in Obama's father's home village in Kenya. Kenya's president declared Thursday a national holiday to celebrate the victory.

Ouma, Obama's half-sister, seemed exhausted by all the attention her normally sleepy village has garnered in recent weeks.

"It's been tough; I won't lie," she said. "You guys have been really ... you're persistent. You're stubborn, so it's been hard."

But she quickly acknowledged the pride she felt when Obama mentioned her in his acceptance speech.

"I did have someone come in and say, 'Ooh I'm gonna shake the hand of the lady who was mentioned by the president of the United States of America,'" she said.