Yet another Barack Obama relative has surfaced to cause the president grief over the credibility of the story he recounted in his autobiography, “Dreams from My Father,” a bestseller that helped propel him to the presidency in 2008.
WND reported Dec. 5 that the White House reversed its previous denial that Obama had met his Kenyan-born uncle, Omar Onyango Obama, an illegal immigrant to the U.S. who appeared recently in court after facing deportation for about 40 years.
Now, Obama’s Kenyan half-brother by his father’s third wife has surfaced with the coming publication of an autobiographical book claiming the president has misrepresented his past.
In an Associated Press interview this week from his home in China, Mark Obama Ndesandjo, 48, has stirred controversy two months before the self-publication on Feb. 28, 2014, of his book “Cultures: My Odyssey of Self-Discovery.”
The AP asked Ndesandjo to describe his relationship with his famous half-brother.
“Right now it’s cold and I think that part of the reason is based on my writing,” Ndesandjo said. “My writing has alienated some people in my family.
Even though, as the AP pointed out, Ndesandjo felt his relationship with his half-brother in the White House was distant, he said he hoped “that my brother and I can really hug each other after he’s president and we can be a family again.”
Like Barack Obama, Ndesandjo is half-white, born to a white Jewish woman the Kenyan met in Massachusetts while studying at Harvard. Barack Obama is the son of the Kenyan and his second wife, Stanley Ann Dunham, a white student he met while studying at the University of Hawaii.
The AP reported Ndesandjo’s conflict with his half-brother traced back to their first encounter, in 1988, when Barack Obama was in Kenya tracing his family roots.
“Barack thought I was too white, and I thought he was too black,” Ndesandjo said, recalling the two did not see eye-to-eye from the time they first met.
Ndesandjo said racial tensions, in particular, seemed to separate the two.
“He was an American searching for his African roots. I was a Kenyan,” Ndesandjo said. “I’m an American, but I was living in Kenya, searching for my white roots.”
Ndesandjo said there were a number of factual errors in “Dreams from My Father,” especially regarding quotes attributed to Ndesandjo’s mother.
Ndesandjo said he hopes to set the record straight in his 500-page book.
“It’s a correction. 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,” Ndesandjo told the AP. “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.”
The Telegraph in London reported in 2009 that in an earlier semi-autobiographical novel, “Nairobi to Shenzhen,” Ndesandjo wrote that his father was abusive to him and to his mother.
“My father beat me. He beat my mother. You just do not do that. I remember in my house, I would hear the screams. I would hear my mum’s pain. As a child, I could not protect her,” Ndesandjo told the Telegraph, breaking into tears.
“I could not remember any good things about my father. My skin had turned hard emotionally for so many years.”
The Telegraph reported in 2009 that Obama “refers to Ndesandjo simply as ‘my brother’ and says he was the only uncontested heir after their Kenyan father died in a car crash in 1982.”
The statement appears to be a reference to “Dreams,” where Obama writes: “Unlike my mum, Ruth has all the documents needed to prove who Mark’s father was.”
Obama, however, has published a copy of a purported Hawaiian birth certificate on the White House website that indicates Barack Obama Sr. was his father. A short-form version that circulated online at the time the Telegraph article was published also listed Obama Sr. as the father.
The Chinese Speakers Bureau, where Ndesandjo is registered, says that in his upcoming book, Ndesandjo “gives a thoughtful overview of his early life, and corrects the image and facts U.S. president Barack Obama has published earlier.”
In a brief bio published on the Chinese Speakers Bureau site, Ndesandjo is listed as “an American” who is a nine-year resident of Shenzhen, China.
Largely educated in the U.S., Ndesandjo holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in physics from Brown University and a Masters degree from Stanford, as well as an Emory MBA.
“He consults worldwide, using over 15 years of international marketing and branding experience gained as a senior manager at ATT, Lucent, Nortel and other companies,” the Chinese Speakers Bureau notes. “He is an HSK L7 (advanced) Mandarin speaker and writer, and an avid brush calligrapher.”
On a website created for the publication of Ndesandjo’s forthcoming book, he discusses his work giving piano lessons to orphans in and around Shenzhen.
Ndesandjo also has issued three CDs of his piano music.
He has created the Mark Obama Foundation Ltd. with the goal of fostering cultural exchanges between Asia, Africa and the U.S., with an emphasis on helping young people appreciate art.
In the complicated Obama family history, Ndesandjo was the eldest of two sons born in Kenya to Barack Obama’s father and Ruth Beatrice Baker of Massachusetts, a 1958 graduate of Simmons College in Boston with a degree in business.
Ruth Baker, who is commonly named as “Ruth Nidesand” in most Obama biographical accounts, met Barack Obama Sr. when he attended Harvard University after attending the University of Hawaii. She followed Barack Obama Sr. back to Africa. The two were married in Kenya in a civil ceremony Dec. 24, 1964.
After Baker divorced Barack Obama Sr., she and her two sons took on the surname of their stepfather, Ndesandjo.
WND columnist Jack Cashill, in his 2011 book “Deconstructing Obama: The Life, Loves, and Letters of America’s First Postmodern President,” and in a series of WND articles, has argued not only that much of Barack Obama’s autobiography is fictional but also that it was written by Weather Underground radical Bill Ayers.