President's Brother: As Young Man Obama 'Acted Too Black'

Thursday, 27 Feb 2014 06:55 PM

By Cathy Burke

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President Barack Obama places "politics before family," his Kenya-born half-brother Mark Obama Ndesandjo said in an exclusive Newsmax interview.

And when the two men first met, the man who went on to be president appeared to be acting "too black" for his African-raised sibling.

"When we met in '88 he was very much influenced by African nationalists and also at the same time had strong opinions about the roles of independence," Ndesandjo said on "The Steve Malzberg Show" on Newsmax TV.

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Ndesandjo, whose book "Cultures: My Odyssey of Self-Discovery" explores the complicated relationship between the brothers, said the first time he met Barack, "it was a very powerful meeting." We had very different views about a couple of things... there was a cultural clash because I mentioned in my book that I felt that he thought that I was too white and I felt he was too black.

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"He had been raised in white America and I think he was looking for his African roots as a cultural journey.

"I, on the other hand, had been brought up in Africa — in Kenya — and I had identified with my mother and her western culture. I wanted to explore my western roots.

"I felt at that point, we had different points of view. I tried to talk, for example, about Chopin and Beethoven because I play classical piano and Barack rolled his eyes.

"He had his own goals and I had my own goals. But it was a cultural journey. As the only two mixed race kids in the Obama family, I think it was a powerful experience."

Ndesandjo said his book describes the Obama family "and also my relationship with my brother" reflecting their different upbringings and attitudes despite having the same Kenyan father.

"We both have white American mothers," he said. "We're both Americans. We're both mixed race. We also were born just a few years apart and we have a lot of similarities and also a lot of differences."

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Barack Obama Sr. married and then deserted Stanley Ann Dunham, the future president's mother. He went to Harvard where he met Ruth Baker. They returned to Kenya where they were married and where Ndesandjo was born.

And it is their father who was another initial source of friction between the half-brothers, Ndesandjo reveals.

"The ghost of my father hangs over our relationship in a number of ways," he said. "That is probably because of the absence of a father in his case and the presence of a father in mine, and the domestic violence that me and my mother suffered.

"We had radically different notions of my father — I hated him at the time and Barack really admired him."

Ndesandjo noted the saying of the ruthless fictional politician Frank Underwood depicted in the Netflix "House of Cards" hit series: "Hypocrisy paves the way to power."

"In a sense sometimes politicians, they put politics before family and I have a fundamental disagreement with that," he said. "Barack is extremely sensitive right now to being identified with Kenya and also with the Obama family and he's also got a small group of advisers and it would serve him well to reach out a little bit more."

"We've had a difficult time over the past few months because Barack does not take criticism lightly," Ndesandjo said. "I criticized him about this."

"There was a lot of scrutiny of Barack," his half-brother also noted of the president's own book, "Dreams From My Father."

"It behooves him to actually address a lot more about his family, about our family, because a lot of people are not clear about the Obama family," he said. "It's something which really needs to be clarified and that's one reason I wrote the book."

Ndesandjo said he doesn’t always see his brother as the president of the United States."I see him as a brother," he said.

"He’s also a person who is fundamentally a decent person who is trying to do the best that he can," he added. "At times, he's been the most inspiring person that I've ever met. At other times, we clash because he's trying to distance himself from the Obamas in Kenya, including myself."

Ndesandjo said criticism of the president as someone who doesn’t help his family including an aunt and uncle in Massachusetts — is "maybe a little bit inaccurate."

"During the inauguration, the first inauguration, Barack actually flew almost all of the members of the extended Obama family to the inauguration at his own expense and it was probably one of the most wonderful moments that we had to get together after all of the bitterness," he said.

Ndesandjo said he wants his book "to tell my story and not have other people tell it for me."

See the “Steve Malzberg Show” on Newsmax TV each weekday live by clicking here now.                               

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