Obama's Half-Brother: Our Relationship is 'Cold'

Image: Obama's Half-Brother: Our Relationship is 'Cold'

Thursday, 19 Dec 2013 09:31 PM

By Cathy Burke

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A shocking autobiography by President Barack Obama's half brother contradicts the almost mythical figure portrayed in the president's 1995 memoir "Dreams From My Father," revealing, instead, a drunk and abusive father and husband.

Mark Obama Ndesandjo, 48, tells The Associated Press in an interview that he never got along with Barack Obama.

"Barack thought I was too white and I thought he was too black," Ndesandjo said. "He was an American searching for his African roots, I was a Kenyan, I'm an American but I was living in Kenya, searching for my white roots."

His book "Cultures: My Odyssey of Self-Discovery," will be released in February. Ndesandjo held a news conference about the publication Thursday in Hong Kong, the AP reported.

His book includes an appendix listing alleged factual errors in Obama's memoir.

"It's a correction," he said. "A lot of the stuff that Barack wrote is wrong in that book and I can understand that because to me for him the book was a tool for fashioning an identity and he was using composites."

"I wanted to bring it up because first of all I wanted the record to be straight. I wanted to tell my own story, not let people tell it for me," he said.

In his book, Ndesandjo claims Barack Obama Sr. beat up his mother when they lived in Kenya, telling of one incident where his father held a knife to his mother's throat because she took out a restraining order. His book then recounts his journey from Africa to the United States and finally to China where he now lives with his wife.

"Right now it's cold," he said of his relationship with the president, "and I think part of the reason is because of my writing. My writing has alienated some people in my family."
Ndesandjo's American mother, Ruth, Obama Sr.'s third wife, met Obama Sr. when he was a graduate student at Harvard University and moved in 1964 to Kenya, where Mark and his brother David were born. David later died in a motorcycle accident.

Obama Sr. had earlier divorced President Obama's mother, Stanley Ann Dunham, after Obama was born in Hawaii in 1961. Obama Sr. died in a car crash in 1982 at age 46, which became the central theme of the president's memoir.

Ndesandjo's mother later divorced the senior Obama and married another man. Ndesandjo moved to the United States for college, and earned a bachelor's degree in physics at Brown University, a master's from Stanford University, and an MBA at Emory University.

President Obama saw his father only once after his parents' divorce, when he was 10 years old, and his memoir tells about his upbringing and search for an identity. In it, Obama described a visit to Kenya to meet his half siblings and learn more about his father. While painting his father as abusive, he called Obama Sr. a gifted but erratic alcoholic who never lived up to his intellectual promise or his family responsibilities, the Daily Mail reports.

Obama also quotes Ndesandjo criticizing their father, saying, "I knew that he was a drunk and showed no concern for his wife and children. That was enough." The half-brothers met first in 1988.

Ndesandjo, however, said his mother often called Obama Sr. "a brilliant man but a social failure."

Ndesandjo also wrote a novel four years ago, “Nairobi to Shenzhen: A Novel of Love in the East.”

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