Sarah Childress reports from Kisumu, Kenya., WSJ

One day before the U.S. presidential election, people in Sen. Barack Obama’s ancestral land took Monday to randomly shouting out his name in the street.

“Obama!” one man called out, pedaling by on his bicycle taxi. “OOOBAMA!” another said, to no one in particular. “BARACK Obama!” said one man, pausing to listen in to a conversation.

This is the capital of Luoland, the sleepy, western provinces of Kenya, which are home to the Luo tribe, to which Obama’s father belonged. All of Kenya has been cheering the senator on during the campaign, but the Luo community has a particularly strong case of Obama fever.

There is talk of him cruising into the little airport here one day on Air Force One. Songs about him blast from packed minibuses — “OBAMA! BARACK! OBAMA!” goes one — and his life story is available on DVD downtown.

It is certainly the first time this American reporter has won praise for her flat Midwestern accent.

“She speaks a lot like Obama,” one man said approvingly.

The authorities planned to set up a giant screen in the soccer stadium on election night, so that those without access to television — or just in search of a party — can crowd in to watch the returns Tuesday evening and early Wednesday morning.

City slickers in Nairobi worried that people here might erupt in violence should Obama be defeated. This town saw some of the worst violence after disputed presidential elections in Kenya last December.

So, what if he loses? One man, overcome by emotion, ordered away a reporter for asking such an impertinent question.

Abel Marendi Obungu, a parking attendant who asked to be interviewed, put his hand over his heart at the words. “It would be a discouragement,” he said, “which will affect us mortally.” Disconcerted, he moved away down the street.

“From our point of view, he’s already in the White House,” said Milka Mbona, 40 years old, sitting before a pile of green peppers on sale at the main market in town. “We’re just praying that he’s able to confirm the victory.”

“Tomorrow we are going to dance till morning!” cried Prisca Owuondo, 55, as she stood before the squash and cucumbers she was selling at her stall. Owuondo, who put her nine children through college, flashed a broad smile.

“When I see him, I lose it completely. I don’t know how to explain it,” she said.