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Young Barack Obama with his mother

Contributing to the impression of shifting sands in his official biography, two newspaper articles from 1990 – apparently based on interviews with Barack Obama – reported that the future president left Hawaii for Indonesia when he was 2 years old, not 6 years old, as he relates in his autobiography.

On May 3, 1990, the Associated Press widely published a feature story on Obama highlighting him as the first African-American named as president of the Harvard Law review.

“Obama moved to Southeast Asia at age 2 when his parents divorced and his mother married an Indonesian,” the Associated Press reported. “Until the fifth grade, Obama attended Indonesian schools, where most of his friends were the sons of servants, street peddlers and farmers.”

The Associated Press article was widely published throughout the United States in newspapers that typically picked up and reprinted AP stories.

Here is the screen capture of the AP report as published by the Chicago Daily Herald on May 3, 1990:

Here is a close-up of the key two paragraphs:

Assuming that Obama was 10 years old in the fifth grade, this 1990 AP
report would have placed Obama in Indonesia for eight years, from around
August 1963 until August 1971, when he was 2 years old until he was 10
years old.

Then, on Aug. 1, 1990, reporter Tammerlin Drummond wrote that Obama left for Indonesia at 2 years old, in an article entitled “Harvard Law Review Gets Its First Black President.”

“Two years [after Obama was born], Obama’s parents separated and he moved to a small village outside Jakarta, Indonesia, with his mother, an anthropologist,” Drummond wrote. “There he spent his boyhood playing with the sons and daughters of rice farmers and rickshaw drivers, attending an Indonesian-speaking school, where he had little contact with Americans.”

Drummond further reported that, “After six years in Indonesia, Obama was sent back to the United States to live with his maternal grandparents in Hawaii in preparation for college.”

Six years in Indonesia? Or eight years, as the AP reported earlier? Regardless of which account may be true, they both contradict the “official” story.

The Obama official Indonesia story

Here are key dates in the Obama timeline that figure into determining when precisely Obama left Hawaii for Indonesia:

  • Barack Obama Jr. was born on Aug. 4, 1961;
  • Obama’s mother, Stanley Ann Dunham, divorced Barack Obama Sr. on March 20, 1964, when Obama was still 2 years old;
  • Stanley Ann Dunham married Lolo Soetoro on March 24, 1965, when Obama was 3 years old;
  • On July 20, 1966, Lolo Soetoro leaves Hawaii, where he had been attending the University of Hawaii, to return to Indonesia;
  • On June 29, 1967, Stanley Ann Dunham applies to the U.S. Department of State to amend her U.S. Passport No. F777788 to change her name from Stanley Ann Dunham to her married name, Stanley Ann Soetoro;
  • According to her passport records, Ann Dunham Soetoro traveled from Honolulu, Hawaii, to Djakarta, Indonesia, via Japan Airlines in October 1967, using U.S. Passport No. 777788.

If Barack Obama Jr. traveled with his mother to go to Indonesia for the first time in October 1967, he would have been six years old.

The information in Obama’s memoir, “Dreams from My Father,” generally supports that Obama was in Indonesia for only four years, from the time he was 6 years old until 10 years old, from 1967-1971, although the references to Indonesia in the autobiography are typically vague regarding specific dates.

In trying to determine the Obama timeline in Indonesia, the following passages in “Dreams from My Father” are relevant:

  • Obama comments he had lived in Indonesia for “over three years by that time,” discussing a visit with his mother to the U.S. embassy in Djakarta, at some unspecified time before he returned to the United States (“Dreams from My Father,” p. 30).
  • “In Indonesia, I had spent two years at a Muslim school, two years at the Catholic school” (“Dreams from My Father,” p. 154).
  • On a yet unspecified date, supposedly in 1971, Barack Obama returns from Indonesia to Hawaii alone, unaccompanied by his mother (“Dreams from My Father,” p. 53).

How to resolve the mystery?

Either reporters in 1990 misheard Barack Obama, or Obama’s story about when precisely he left for Indonesia as a child and how long he stayed there changed between May 1990, when he became president of the Harvard Law Review, and July 1995, when he first published his autobiography.

Unfortunately, since Barack Obama has blocked all release of his U.S. passport and travel records, there is no public documentation of when he first traveled to Indonesia, or under what passport.

As WND has previously reported, the State Department has claimed a 1980s General Services Administration directive resulted in the destruction of many passport application records, including Dunham’s 1965 passport application, as well as any other U.S. passports she may have applied for or held prior to 1965.

Also as WND has reported, this is not the only mystery regarding Obama’s time in Indonesia.

A photo has surfaced showing Obama and Scott Inoue attending third grade in 1969 at Noelani Elementary School in Honolulu, even though the official Obama Indonesia story indicates that he was in Jakarta in 1969, registered in school as Barry Soetoro and living with his mother, Ann Dunham Soetoro, and his Indonesian stepfather, Lolo Soetoro.


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