When Illinois Senator Barrack Obama, on his recent trip to Kenya, was asked about lowering farm subsidies to U.S. farmers so that African farmers could compete, Mr. Obama did not say something politically pretty like, "We're working on that problem." He responded that many of his his constituents are soy bean farmers, explaining, "It's important to me to be sure I'm looking out for their interests, it's part of my job." U.S. agribusiness (huge corporate farms) are raking in government subsidies that were originally intended to help small farmers, and the corporations are using their subsidies to wipe out small family farms in the U.S., and undersell struggling farmers in third world countries. The reason Obama is looking out for corporate farms is not because there are a lot of agribusiness voters that he cares about, it is because there is a lot of agribusiness money he wants to keep coming his way to pay for campaign costs, so he panders like all the other sold-out politicians. If Obama is for the people, he should fight to eliminate farm subsidies for big corporations, in order to help small farmers here and abroad.
By Jeffrey Gettleman
Nairobi, Kenya, Aug.25
If Senator Barack Obama is ever thinking of running for president -- or changing careers to rock star -- he got excellent practice in Nairobi on Friday.
Thousands of people lined the streets, waiting hours in the intense sunshine just for a glimpse of him.
Local newspapers overflowed with breathless coverage, including the headline, ''Village beats the drums for returning son.''
Everywhere he went he had to part seas of shutter-snapping journalists and mobs of ecstatic fans.
A riot nearly broke out when he slipped past his bodyguards at a downtown event and simply smiled at the crowd.
''Obaaammmaaaa!'' the people yelled.
Mr. Obama, a freshman Democratic senator from Illinois, was in Kenya's capital on Friday as part of a tightly scripted four-country tour in Africa to raise awareness for AIDS and to reconnect with his roots.
His father was a goat herder-turned-economist from western Kenya and, though Mr. Obama was never close to him or spent much time in Kenya, many Kenyans claim him as one of their own.
''He's our lion,'' said George Mimba, a computer consultant, after shaking Mr. Obama's hand.
''He will help us,'' said Bob Osano, a marketing agent stuck behind a metal barricade.
Schools in western Kenya have been renamed for Mr. Obama. Unofficially, so has a popular brand of beer.
All week, people near Nyangoma-Kogelo, the village where Mr. Obama's father grew up, were scrambling to prepare a welcome fit for royalty, fixing roads, practicing skits and ironing their Obama T-shirts.
On Saturday, Mr. Obama plans to visit the village and sit in a tin-roof house with his grandmother, who speaks no English and will be waiting for the rising Democratic statesman with an egg, apparently a grandmother-grandson tradition in these parts. He also plans to take an H.I.V. test in public to help promote awareness of the virus.
Mr. Obama seems to be many things to people here: a role model; a black man succeeding in a white man's world (he is the only African-American in the United States Senate); a friend in a high place; and the embodiment of American opportunity and multiculturalism (his mother is white and from Kansas). In Kenya, people who are half-white and half-black are called ''point fives.''
Wycliffe Muga, a local commentator, said the backdrop to the excitement was that many Kenyans are fed up with their own leaders and the country's persistently high levels of corruption and crime. They place their hopes in outsiders like Mr. Obama, who they think will help from abroad.
''Call it the donor mentality,'' Mr. Muga said. ''People are saying, 'We have a senator now; we have a man in power.' They forget he is a U.S. senator representing the state of Illinois.''
It was a point Mr. Obama had to make when he was asked at a news conference on Friday about lowering American subsidies on farm produce so African farmers could compete.
He responded that many of his constituents were soybean farmers. ''It's important to me to be sure I'm looking out for their interests,'' he said. ''It's part of my job.''
Mr. Obama, who sits on the Senate subcommittee for African affairs, used the news conference to show off his fluency in all things African.
He said ''Zimbabweans were ill served'' by their dictatorial president, Robert G. Mugabe. He spoke of the troubled Darfur region of Sudan, saying, ''We're on the verge of an enormous humanitarian crisis.''
Regarding Kenya, he talked about his meetings earlier in the day with President Mwai Kibaki and the opposition leader Uhuru Kenyatta.
He praised Kenya's lack of major ethnic conflict and its history of clean elections. But he added, ''You're starting to see the reassertion of ethnic identity as the basis for politics,'' which he said was not good.
Before arriving in Kenya, Mr. Obama visited South Africa, where he met with apartheid-era freedom fighters and people with AIDS. After five days in Kenya, he will travel to Chad to speak with refugees from nearby Darfur, and to Djibouti, where American forces are stationed in a counterterrorism operation.
Of course, he could not escape Beltway politics, even 7,500 miles away.
One Kenyan journalist, after a long preamble on the virtues of the American Constitution, asked him, ''What will you do to liberate Congress from the White House?''
Mr. Obama threw a few jabs at the Bush administration for not consulting lawmakers enough and vowed, ''You're going to see a change in the balance of power soon.''
And then came the questions everybody wanted to ask: Does he harbor presidential ambitions? If so, will he run for president in 2008?
''I don't know what to do with these two questions,'' Mr. Obama said, cracking a toothy grin.
''The day after my election to the United States Senate, somebody asked me, am I running in 2008. I said at that time: 'no.'
''And nothing so far,'' he said, ever so slightly stressing those last two words, '' has changed my mind.''
Photo: Senator Barack Obama greeted crowds in Nairobi, near where the United States Embassy stood before a bombing destroyed it in 1998. (Photo by Guillaume Bonn for The New York Times)