A couple of years ago, I was in Kenya on one of those ubiquitous matatu's (minibuses, the lifeline of most developing countries) holding on for dear life. Most of the 50 or so people (in a bus that should hold 13) crammed in around me were poor farmers and herders. I had a chicken coop shoved between my legs, several babies drooling on my shoulders and pulling my hair, and nearly everyone trying to figure out what I was doing there in the middle of nowhere. The questions, as always, started (I have a lot of stories about conversations with locals on public transport) and they excitedly found out that I was from the United States.
Suddenly, in the middle of our journey, the minibus riders became very animated. Even the rider pulled over so that I could have a better view. They pointed out a village in the distance and said "that's Obama's village." Sure enough everyone on that minibus knew somebody who was related to Barack. Some claimed to have seen him during a visit (when pressed, one said that she had seen the car in which Obama had ridden!). For the next 1.5 hours, I had an interesting discussion about U.S. politics with people who couldn't read or write. They had more hope that the United States people and government would save them, than their own...something that made me incredibly sad and yet more responsible at the same time. They told me that they got most of their information from the radio or friends who could read. The whole thing was absolutely enlightening. (After that, I happened to have a lot of work in the area, so I got into these types of discussions quite a bit!)
Yesterday, I saw this interview of David Letterman and Barack Obama. Here, Obama talks about his thoughts on Africa and his visit to the region. Having heard one side, it was nice to hear the other.