Siblings of Barack Obama

For years, Doug Wead and I have been researching the siblings of the U.S. presidents for the third in the trilogy of the lives of presidential families. The first one was All the Presidents’ Children, and the second was The Raising of a President, about the parents. Both were fascinating to research, and I found special favorites that touch me, even now, years after publication.

I thought the lives of presidential siblings would be a yawn. I couldn’t have been more wrong. It has been like thumbing through some National Presidential Enquirer. Drunkards and wastrels, patriots and preachers and poets.

Now, with the election of the most astounding political year ever upon us, we looked at the siblings of the candidates. Does Barack Obama have any siblings? What do his siblings do? Where do they live? Who are they?

Frankly, I had to make a chart (as I did to figure out which of George Washington’s siblings were born to whom.)

Obama’s siblings offer a completely different challenge.

First of all, he has no full siblings. But half siblings? It’s hard even to figure out how many there are.

As we know, Barack Obama’s mother was Stanley Ann Dunham, who was a white woman from Kansas, completely committed to improving the lives of people who had no hope. (Those of us who were in the Peace Corps or who work in international relief and development know exactly how passionate she was. It requires passion to do that work.)

His father was Barack Obama, Sr., a Kenyan goat-herder who managed to get to the United States, study at the University of Hawaii and at Harvard, and eventually become a Kenyan government economist.

The couple met and married in Hawaii, and Barack, Jr. came along, only to be left behind by his father when he was two, when his parents divorced.

Now comes the chart.

I. Before Dad Obama came to the U.S., he had a wife in Kenya named Grace Kezia.

1. Malik Abongo (Roy) Obama

2. Auma Obama (Grace Kezia was pregnant with Auma when Dad Obama left for the U.S.)

3. Abo Obama (born after Dad Obama returned to Kenya)

4. Bernard Obama (perhaps) (See #V below.)

II. Ann Dunham Obama and Barack Obama, Sr.

1. Barack Obama, Jr.

III. Ann Dunham Obama Soetoro and Lolo Soetoro

1. Maya Soetoro Ng

IV. When Ann and Barack Sr. split up, he went to Harvard, where he married a woman named Ruth Nidesand and took her back to Kenya. Drunk, he beat her and visited his first wife, so Ruth divorced him.

1. Mark Ndesandjo

2. David Ndesandjo (was killed in a motorcycle accident.)

V. When Dad Obama returned to Kenya with his new wife, Ruth, he would occasionally go visit his old wife, Grace Kezia. But Grace was also in a relationship with another man. So, when he had her next son, it is unknown which was the father.

1. Bernard Obama

VI. Barack Obama Sr, and Unknown

1. George Obama

Tomorrow, I’ll tell you more about them.


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15 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Very interesting information. Good job! Quite the conglomeration of family members.

  2. Mary, you are amazing! Very, very interesting. Stable background. 🙂 Send it to Hannity.

  3. Wow ! This is amazing. If you develope each of these biographies we are going to get a big chunk of life.

  4. Quite the family tree! I bet Obama’s publishers would have appreciated this.

  5. Wow, Mary!
    That must have taken SOME research. It sounds like it’s good that he wasn’t raised by his father. I’ll be very interested in reading what you find about about McCain. Great job!

  6. Ah, drunkards and wastrels. What’s not to love about politics?

  7. love the black hair guy, Obama:)
    -Paris Hilton

  8. This is very illumintaing indeed. Please do not exclude the other children sired by Obama Sr, among whom is Mark Ndesanjo.
    Many people around the world do not, and perhaps would not, understand that the Luo people never divorce casually. In fact, a woman, more so if she is a Luo, properly married to a Luo cannot be divorced by her husband alone. A Luo wife, even if (supposedly) divorced, always has a right to return to her (first and only rightful)husband whether he is alive or dead.She does this with all her children irrespective of their biological father(s). Therefore, Obama Sr never divorced any of his wives.

    • I agree with you. Perhaps you are a Luo. I also one from across. But the culture is almost the same, except that the Kenya Luo one is much stronger. Even during the the alleged divorce, as Ruth though, between the two married parents, it was business as usual. There is a time for every wife, and more so the first wife. If senior was to get detached completely from the Luo wife, it would have been a taboo according to the customs. I love this culture.

      • Thank you, Ochola and Nyalo. I am always looking for clarification about things outside my ken. Book is finally–finally!–getting ready to finish.

  9. AWOMSE U ROCK GIRL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!\

  10. Hmm…you people do know that this is all information that Obama goes into in great detail in his biography, “Dreams of My Father”, right? I love the commenter who said that this must have taken some research. Your readers are not too bright – perhaps they are unable to crack open a book? I’m so happy our president not only does not hide his roots, but made it a point to share information about his family with the world.

  11. Like you don’t we all don’t have drama in our history. Research your own family and learn.

  12. Mary,
    Obama Senior did not return to Kenya with Ruth. She followed him to Kenya on her own later. And Kezia was not Obama’s “old” wife whom he occasionally visited. She remained the bonafide African wife that Ruth tried to abolish! You should hear the other side also.

  13. It is really interesting to learn more from this!

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