March 24, 2009 Obama Memorabilia from Africa on Display At the Library of Congress
“Obamabilia” Collection Ranges from Campaign Buttons to Beer Labels
Press Contact: Audrey Fischer (202) 707-0022
On the occasion of Barack Obama’s historic presidency, the African and Middle Eastern Division of the Library of Congress has organized a display of “Obamabilia”—Obama-related memorabilia from Africa. The collection will be on display from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, through July 31, in Room 220 of the Thomas Jefferson Building, located at 10 First Street S.E., Washington, D.C. The material was acquired in part by the Library’s Field Office in Nairobi. 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 like “Kenya Says Yes We Can,” as well as baseball caps with “Obama” printed on them, are exhibited in glass cases. Campaign buttons with statements like “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. The African and Middle Eastern Division is the Library’s center for the study of some 78 countries and regions from Southern Africa to the Maghreb and from the Middle East to Central Asia. For more information on the division and its holdings, visit www.loc.gov/rr/amed/. The Library of Congress maintains six overseas offices to acquire, catalog, preserve and distribute library and research materials from countries where such materials are essentially unavailable through conventional acquisitions methods. In addition to acquiring material for the Library of Congress, the offices conduct Cooperative Acquisitions Programs for more than 100 participating institutions, primarily academic research libraries. For more information on the Library’s overseas offices in Nairobi, Cairo, Islamabad, Jakarta, New Delhi and Rio de Janeiro go to www.loc.gov/acq/ovop/. Founded in 1800, the Library of Congress is the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution. The Library seeks to spark imagination and creativity and to further human understanding and wisdom by providing access to knowledge through its magnificent collections, programs and exhibitions. Many of the Library’s rich resources can be accessed through its website at www.loc.gov and via interactive exhibitions on a new, personalized website at myLOC.gov.