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Jakarta celebrates the Menteng Kid’s victory
November 7th, 2008

Jakarta shared the anxiety and the joy of the U.S presidential election won by new Indonesian darling Barack Hussein Obama on Wednesday.

It was a special day for students of Obama’s former school SDN Menteng 01, Central Jakarta, who gathered at the school’s hall to watch the final results pour in. Several pictures of Obama during his school years there were prominently displayed.

A 15-minute silence has been held here every day since Monday to allow the students to pray for Obama’s victory.

“Every day we have something different to pray for, but since Monday we have prayed for him,” said principal Kuwadiyanto.

Obama, or Barry as he was affectionately called during his time in Indonesia, enrolled in the school — then named SD Besuki — as a third-grader in 1968. He previously attended the Fransiskus Asisi Catholic School, also in Central Jakarta.

Obama’s historic election as the next U.S. president was a dream come true for his supporters in Indonesia.

“I think it’s good motivation for the children to study hard and set their dreams high,” Kuwadiyanto said.

Israella Dharmawan, Barry’s former teacher at Fransiskus Asisi and an avid follower of the U.S. election, said she was proud and touched by Barry’s win.
“I hope to see him become a good president and keep his campaign promises,” she said, adding he was good, cheerful and easygoing as a young boy.

“I remember he once wrote two stories titled ‘My mother, my idol’ and ‘I want to be a  president’,” she said.

Obama’s former classmates at SDN Menteng 01 also recalled the times they spent at Café Pisa, Menteng, with the now U.S. president-elect.
Obama moved to Indonesia at the age of six with his mother Ann Dunham and his Indonesian stepfather Lolo Soetoro. He lived in Jakarta from 1967 to 1971.
In the rest of the capital, Jakartans cheered the election of Anak Menteng (the Menteng Kid) as America’s first black president.

“Though I am not an American, I am very happy to hear that a child who studied in Menteng will be the next U.S. president,” Sugiyono, a taxi driver, said after hearing radio reports of Obama’s win.

The U.S. Embassy and USINDO organized a U.S. Election Day event at the InterContinental Hotel’s Grand Ballroom. Most of the guests were non-Americans.

“It’s no longer a U.S. election,” one guest said. “It looks like an international election. People all over the world are eagerly awaiting the outcome of the election.”

Among U.S. Ambassador Cameron R. Hume’s invited guests were presidential spokesmen Dino Patti Djalal and Andi Mallarangeng, former ministers Emil Salim and Alwi Shihab, members of the House of Representatives, scholars, journalists and diplomats.

Despite their busy schedules, the British, Swiss, German, Austrian, Brazilian, Mexican, Jordanian, Tunisian, Palestinian and Singaporean ambassadors turned up to witness the historic moment.

Enda Nasution, who chairs the Obama for Indonesia society, celebrated Obama’s victory with 300 members of the group, which was founded over the Internet.

“It’s great to be part of history. No one thought Obama would win the U.S. presidency,” Enda said.

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