Washington D.C. will never be Rio de Janeiro but it came as close as it could yesterday.

It was a mid-winter Mardi Gras for more than a million people who celebrated the inauguration of Barack Obama as the first African-American president of the United States.

The crowd was so big, the excitement so enormous and the precedent so historic that the U.S. had never seen an inauguration like it.


Obama didn't campaign on the basis of his race; he did his best to ignore it. But his inauguration day will resonate for a long time because of it.

There is now a black man in the White House.

Americans of all colours are still a little stunned and very proud.

Amidst all the ear-to-ear grins, Obama himself seemed to be the only one who wasn’t smiling.

In his first speech as president, he warned of the challenges his country faces, with its army at war and its economy in distress.

The hardships ahead didn’t diminish the history he had just made.

It was Inauguration Day, Fat Tuesday, and people were in the mood to celebrate.

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