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In Kenya, Obama's relatives 'pray' for victory

  • Story Highlights
  • Sen. Barack Obama's father is from Kenya, where his grandmother and uncle live
  • The Obamas live in a remote village, don't own a TV but keep up with the election
  • On Hillary Clinton, Obama's grandmother says the best man or woman should win
  • Sen. Obama first visited Kenya after his father died in 1982
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From Paula Newton
CNN
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NYANGOMA KOGELO, Kenya (CNN) -- The Obamas of Kenya still live as they have for decades, even though their most famous relative is in a hotly contested race to become the next president of the United States.

When we arrived, Sarah Onyango Obama was waiting with a smile as she cut up corn maize preparing animal feed.

As the chickens clucked and a rooster crowed, "Mama Sarah" is as busy bringing in the crops as her grandson is trying to bring in the votes.

"He's a good listener and if he's given a chance he will work hard for America," she says in her native language.

Sen. Barack Obama's grandmother and Said Obama, his uncle, do not have a television and live in a simple, single-story canary-yellow home several miles from the closest village.

Still, they are closely following their relative's campaign for the White House.

But Mama Sarah won't venture a guess on his chances. "I pray hard for him and leave the rest to God," she says. Video Watch Sen. Obama's grandmother dote on her grandson »

There is an unmistakable resemblance between grandmother and grandson.

The elder Obama seems unfazed by her grandchild's ambition or the daunting complexity of the campaign. She kept asking questions of a CNN reporter who visited her, wanting to know more about how caucuses and primaries work.

And what does the grandmother think of Hillary Clinton? With an age-old diplomacy, Sarah Obama says the election is a contest and the best man or woman should win.

Barack Hussein Obama, Sen. Obama's father, was born and raised here. He was buried on the family farm just after his death from a car accident in 1982.

Sarah says her son wouldn't be surprised by Barack's success.

When Barack Sr. would hear news of his son's stellar report cards he would dance for joy she says, knowing he'd amount to something.

But Sen. Obama visited Kenya only after his father died and he admits in his biography, "Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance" that he didn't see much of his father in his childhood. Obama's parents -- Barack Sr. and mother, who was from Kansas -- separated when he was young.

The book ends with an emotional moment in which Sen. Obama visits his father's grave. The Democratic candidate seems to have embraced the multi-cultural and multi-religious nature of his roots. His father, his grandmother and most of his family members in Kenya are Muslims.

And while they try to devote attention to their most famous kin's life, they are also disappointed by the recent turn toward violence in Kenya. The normally peaceful country has been shaken by mobs of rioters angry over the disputed presidential election.

The Obamas say they don't recognize Kenya in the images of despair now being beamed around the world.

"We expected Kenya to be a beacon of hope in this region," says Said Obama, the senator's uncle. "But again, politicians are politicians."

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But Said Obama says his nephew is different.

"Because he is coming from a very humble background he will understand people coming from such a situation, in poverty." E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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