Yesterday, the national holiday that was called 'Obama Day' was a little bit strange... but sort of in a good way. Many were very glad about Obama being voted President elect but bemused by the prospect of a day off. The initial reaction to a holiday being called was, 'Oh God, not another one' We had Moi day on the 10th October and Kenyatta Day on 20th (or was it the other way round?).
Some worried that Kenya would be laughed at for announcing a public holiday that would cost the country a lot of money that it can ill afford to spare. Others applauded the clever move to winkle Kenya into the international press on the crest of the Obama wave - and this time show the country in a positive light for a change. Lost revenue in having another public holiday may be compensated by good/priceless worldwide PR.
Peter Kimani in todays Standard 'seriously speaking' page, amusingly wrote: 'I shall desist from implying that Kenyans ni watu wa kuregarega (people who like idling). Neither shall I imply that Kenyans are party animals who look for the least excuse to make merry. What we need to do is recognise the historicity of the moment and make plans to gazette Nov 5th as Obama Day.' Fine, I say, but for heavens sake, scrap Moi Day!
As I drive about Nairobi lost in thought between school runs and wonder at the fabulous week we've had with Lewis Hamilton winning the Grand Prix and Obama the American Presidential election, I think of how this year began so dreadfully in Kenya, and how everyone here deserves a boost and some really good news. I wonder if the atmosphere has changed for the better for everyone and whether I can actually hear a collective sigh of relief not just in Kenya but across the world.