Oddly Enough

Robbers raid ancestral Obama home in Kenya

NAIROBI (Reuters) - Burglars broke into the home of U.S. presidential hopeful Barack Obama’s grandmother in a Kenyan village but were quickly caught, police said on Thursday.

U.S. Democratic presidential nominee Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) speaks to a Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute awards gala in Washington, September 10, 2008. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

“These are just people ... who think that Obama has been sending me a lot of money,” said Sarah Obama, the Illinois senator’s 85-year-old step-grandmother.

Nothing was stolen during the raid on Wednesday, but police arrested four suspects after a chase by local residents in Kogelo village, west Kenya.

“The thieves were local boys. They broke a door, climbed on the roof and were attempting to steal the solar panel when the alarm was raised,” Kenyan police spokesman Eric Kiraithe said.

“They were pursued by the whole village, so it was easy to catch them. The community is very sympathetic to ‘Mama’ Obama.”

Police have now given the modest house 24-hour protection.

Low-level crime is common in the east African country, which was rocked by post-election violence at the start of this year.

But the interest of many Kenyans is now focused on the chances of the Democratic Party’s candidate in the neck-and-neck U.S. presidential poll in eight weeks time.

Obama was born in Hawaii to a white American mother and a Kenyan father, and he is idolised by many Kenyans as one of their own who has succeeded beyond their wildest dreams.

A survey this week showed 89 percent of Kenyans were rooting for him, versus 3 percent for his Republican rival John McCain.

The four suspects of the break-in at Kogelo village appeared in court on Thursday. They were remanded on bail to appear at a later date while police gather evidence.

While Kenyans were happy to hear the popular “Mama” Obama was safe, some raised an eyebrow at the speed of police action in that case, compared to normal delays in solving petty crime.

Additional reporting by Andrew Cawthorne; Editing by Matthew Tostevin