KOGELO, Kenya — Barack Obama's Kenyan family erupted in cheers today, singing "we are going to the White House!" as he became the first African-American elected U.S. president.
In the western village of Kogelo, where the Democratic candidate's late father was born, police had tightened security to prevent hordes of media and onlookers from entering the rural homestead of Obama's stepgrandmother, Sarah.
But the elderly woman and several other relatives came outside Wednesday to cheer for Obama in a country where the Democrat is seen as a "son of the soil."
Across Africa, where Obama is wildly popular, people stayed up all night or woke before dawn today to watch the U.S. election results roll in. In the Kenyan capital of Nairobi, people chanted "Obama! Obama!" as the results were announced on television.
"He's in!" said Rachel Ndimu, 23, a business student who joined hundreds of others at the residence of the U.S. ambassador for an election party that began at 5 a.m. "I think this is awesome, and the whole world is backing him."
Many hope an Obama presidency will help this vast continent, the poorest in the world. Some are looking for more U.S. aid to Africa, others simply bask in the glory of a successful black politician with African roots.
Obama was born in Hawaii, where he spent most of his childhood reared by his mother, a white American from Kansas. He barely knew his late father. But that has not stopped "Obamamania" from sweeping the continent and particularly Kenya, where his picture adorns billboards and minibuses.
Elsewhere around the world, throngs packed plazas and pubs to await the election results.
"America is electing a new president, but for the Germans, for Europeans, it is electing the next world leader," said Alexander Rahr, director of the German Council on Foreign Relations.
In Germany, where more than 200,000 people flocked to see Obama this summer as he burnished his foreign policy credentials during a trip to the Middle East and Europe, the election dominated television ticker crawls, newspaper headlines and Web sites.
More than 1,000 people jammed into the U.S. Embassy in central London waiting for the first returns to be shown.