Malawians celebrate Obama's inauguration


CAPE MACLEAR, Malawi — Sixty men crowd in under the thatched roof of the Chiwaya Sports Club to watch the inauguration of Barack Obama on the only television in this village of 15,000 people.

It is hot and still on the shores of Lake Malawi and the air is filled with anticipation. Everyone is waiting for Obama.

"He is an African hero!" shouts Willie Jari, a young patron.

Obama's speech is slightly late and the men are impatient.  Bill Clinton appeared on the screen and some of the men start cheering.

"That is not Obama, why cheer?" shouts one fellow. "He is just the messenger of Obama!" shouts another to raucous laughter.

The mood is celebratory and friendly. After the inauguration speech the men spill out under a large baobab tree and dance in the street.

"Obama! Obama! Obama!" they chant, bouncing between the huts.  Other
people pick up the chant like an echo.

Next door the Chiwaya Bar is doing a busy trade. For hours whoops and hollers can be heard over the sound of Lake Malawi's waves lapping against the sand.

Steven Matewele, 20, has some serious thoughts about the importance of Obama's inauguration.

"This is a historic thing for us", he explains, while his buddies dance and hug each other
in the background.

"It feels like Africans and Americans have come closer to each other. We have now shown the world that we can also lead others," says Matewele.

"There are three things that Africans like Obama can teach the world.  First, you must have faith in your heart," he says. "Second you must depend on yourself, and not look to others to always assist you.

"Third, always be friendly and make sure that you make more friends than enemies in the world," he concludes.

Then his mood shifts from serious to festive and Matewele laughs and dances away into the warm evening.