Wednesday, November 5, 2008

'Obama wins,' pronounce Indonesian sixth-graders

Students at US presidential candidate Barack Obama's old primary school in Indonesia were prematurely celebrating his election win Wednesday, and looking forward to his first presidential visit.

"Obama wins! McCain loses!" chanted the crows of about 250 excited children at the Menteng One primary school in the affluent central Jakarta suburb of Menteng, as they watched coverage on local television.

Deputy principal Akahmad Solikhin won rapturous applause when he announced to the children that Obama would be visiting them soon. "If Obama wins he'll visit our school," he said.

The son of a white American mother and a black Kenyan father, Obama was raised in Hawaii and moved to Indonesia when he was six after his divorced mother remarried an Indonesian.

He went to school in Menteng in the late 1960s, and in his memoirs recalled his time here as the "bounty of a young man's life."

Solikhin said that with the Democrat senator appearing set to become the first black US president and the most powerful man in the world, he was having a powerful new influence on his old school on the other side of the planet.

"We're using Obama as a tool to motivate the students to be successful.

There is an emotional connection between the students and Obama," he said, adding that enrollments had increased 5.0-10 percent over last year.

Sixth-grader Farhan Ashardi, 11, said he now believed he could be president of Indonesia one day.

"If Obama can do it so can I," he said.

But fifth-grader Aisya Nadine said she had no plans to become president of Indonesia, itself a rowdy democracy of 234 million people.

"It's hard to become president in Indonesia, there's a lot of corruption here, it's hard to control," she said. – Agence France-Presse - 11/5/2008 3:30 AM GMT

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