From the tiny Kenyan village of Kogelo to the streets of Chicago and Washington, Barack Obama's supporters are celebrating an historic achievement – his election as the first black president of the United States.

Addressing a jubilant crowd, numbering tens of thousands in his hometown state of Illinois, the man who'll become the most powerful in the world said: "It's been a long time coming, but tonight... change has come to America."

By his side was the woman Mr Obama described as "my best friend for 16 years and the love of my life", his wife Michelle, and their two girls, Malia and Sasha.

For his children the American leader had warm words and a special surprise. "I love you both more than you can imagine, and you have earned the new puppy that's coming with us to the White House," their father promised.

The elation of the throng at the victory rally in Chicago's Grant Park reflected the unprecedented levels of excitement that his 21-month battle to win the Oval Office had ignited.

Turnout was high - not since 1960, when John F Kennedy was elected, had so many Americans voted. In all 130 million were estimated to have cast their ballot, one of them - a 106-year-old woman - received a special mention in the speech.

It was a unique feat that his Republican rival John McCain acknowledged in an extraordinarily gracious speech. "I deeply admire and commend Mr Obama", he said, calling on his supporters to throw their weight behind the president-elect.

For his part the next US commander-in-chief praised the former Vietnam prisoner of war as a "brave and selfless leader".

Photo: ©
It was a moment his supporters had waited 21 months to celebrate. Barack Obama was elected the 44th president of the United States - the first African-American to win the office. At a victory rally in Chicago's Grant Park he acknowledged the efforts of the people who'd helped him along the way, including "the love of his life", wife Michelle, and their two daughters, Malia and Sasha, as well as his late grandmother, whom he said was watching over himPhoto: © Getty ImagesClick on photo to enlarge
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