On the occasion of Barack Obama’s historic presidency, the African and Middle Eastern Division of the Library of Congress is organizing a display of “Obamabilia”—Obama-related memorabilia from Africa. The collection will be on display 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., .Monday through Friday, March 23 through July 31.
The material was acquired in part by the Library’s Field Office in Nairobi, one of six overseas offices through which the Library acquires material. (See Information Bulletin, May 2005.) Other materials came from U.S. embassies in Africa. The collection will be housed permanently in the African and Middle Eastern Division.
The display of 55 items from the collection of more than 100 items includes newspapers from several countries in the region including Kenya, Ghana, Nigeria, Angola, South Africa, Niger, Cameroon and Uganda. Headlines read “Oba-Magic!” “Prophecy Fulfilled,” “The Obama Sensation!”
The display also includes textiles (kangas) made in Tanzania, often worn by women during elections, featuring the image of Barack Obama and texts in Swahili with messages of congratulations, good wishes or echoing the president’s call for change.
T-shirts with the president’s photo and slogans such as “Kenya Says Yes We Can,” as well as baseball caps with “Obama” printed on them, are exhibited in glass cases. Campaign buttons with such statements as “Kenya…Proudly Obama’s Roots” and framed photographs of the American president are also included.
CDs and DVDs of music composed in Africa, and sung by well-known African singers such as Kenge Kenge, Lady Maureen and Ken Wambua wa Maria, are also on display.
Among the novelty items are beer bottles with “President” on the label. The empty beer bottles were purchased from the East African Breweries Ltd., the company that launched a new edition of the label, which previously read “Senator.” Ads for the product, which are also on display, reference President Obama.