US President Barack Obama has got a lookalike in Indonesia. Ilham Anas has an uncanny resemblance to the man of the moment with a similar smile and gait, even if he is a good few years younger. He might not be quite as famous but he’s certainly been turning heads at home.
Ilham Anas, a 34-year-old magazine photographer
The audience of a popular television show in Indonesia thought for a moment that the recently sworn-in US president was the guest of the day. Indeed, the 34-year-old photographer Ilham Anas could almost be Barack Obama’s twin.
It all started out as a joke, Anas recalls: “When Obama was elected president my friends forced me to wear a suit and tie. They took photos and put them on the Internet.“
He says that he then got masses of offers from advertising agencies and television stations. He even flew to Manila to pose in an advert for a heartburn remedy.
"I had a stopover in Malaysia and a man came up to me at the airport and asked if I was Obama. He was really excited and had pictures of himself taken with me and bought me food.“
Indonesian Obamamania is rife
Obamamania has been rife in Indonesia for months. As a child, the new US president lived in the capital Jakarta for a year when his mother married an Indonesian.
His inauguration ceremony was a big hit at his former school, Besuki Elementary School in Menteng. At the party, teacher Tina Achriyani said it was a great honour that a former pupil was now US president.
"In the name of all his friends at this school, his teachers and all the people of Indonesia, I congratulate Barack Obama on his swearing-in as president and wish him all the best,“ she said.
Cameron Hume, the US ambassador to Indonesia, also attended the party at, telling the excited pupils that Obama himself might pay a visit one day: “Looking at your basketball court, I’m wondering if Barry will come back to shoot hoops with you.“
Will the doubles ever meet?
Indonesia’s President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono also said he was looking forward to welcoming Obama back to his erstwhile home.
Meanwhile, Obama-lookalike Ilham Anas stepped up his television appearances and said he saw his resemblance to the new US president as a blessing that had boosted his confidence.
Who knows if the two will meet if Barack Obama does decide in future to come back. But if this meeting of doubles does one day take place, Anas will certainly not be the only photographer in attendance.