Dreams From My Father, A Story Of Race And Inheritance. Barack Obama. Book Review. Part Three, Kenya, Chapter Eighteen: Trip To Home Squared and Alego His Grandfather’s Farms. Transitions.

November 3, 2011 by · 1 Comment
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Front row (left to right): Auma Obama (Barack’s half-sister)Keiza Obama(Barack’s stepmother), Sarah Hussein Onyango Obama( wife of Barack’s paternal grandfather), Zeitumi Oyango(Barack’s aunt)
Back row (left to right): Sayid Obama (Barack’s uncle), Barack Obama, Abongo(Roy) Obama (Barack’s half-brother), unidentified woman, Bernard Obama (Barack’s half-brother), Abo Obama (Barack’s half-brother(.
Barack takes the six hundred mile train trip to the family land on the shores of Lake Victoria. The original plot is still in the family although much reduced by gifts. His father’s brothers Yusef and Sayid still live there. They did not go to school like Barack Sr.; they live in rural poverty on subsistence farming.  However they do not see themselves as poor.

Barack’s grandfather had been a cook for the British Army and during the World War a captain before he returned to the farm.  His grandmother still lived on the property and greeted him with warmth as did of all his relatives there.  The grandfather is referred reverentially to as the “The Old Man” and was remembered as a skilled farmer as well as a cook as well as a stern no nonsense man. He also had other wives. Barack is shown a picture of Akumu with a daughter Sarah. She lived on another homestead called Alego. Grandfather Hussien  apparently was in Burma with the Army because  Akumu  looks Burmese.

Grandfather  Hussein  Onyango  Obama (1895- 1979) is buried with a marker on the property  and alongside his grave is Barack Sr.’s grave yet to have a marker.

Yusef and Sayed explain to Barack that the land is fertile but no one has the agricultural training or expertise to raise the yield above a subsistence level. Much of the land has been given away because the family has been unable to work it.

Roy and Barack journey to Alego to see their cousin Abo a descendant from their grandfather’s other family. His cousins Salina, Kizia and Billy are there also.  At night the men drink together and discuss the  weaknesses of the Obama clan in Africa. These turn out to be too much drink and more than one wife.

Later back at Home Squared,  Sayed opines that Barack Sr.’s problem was that he tried to live the life of an educated bureaucrat and also follow his ancestral ways and this caused him to fail as an economic planner in the new Kenya.  Barack senses that his father never fully made the transition from the rural farm to be the educated economic leader he stove to be. (It was probably too great a journey to achieve in one generation.)


Dreams From My Father, A Story Of Race And Inheritance. Barack Obama. Book Review. Part Three, Kenya, Chapter Seventeen: Safari To The Great Rift Valley With A Reluctant Auma.

October 20, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
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Barack decides to go on a safari to The Great Rift Valley and convinces a reluctant Auma to go with him. They join a small tour group led by a guide and two Masai warriors for security. The Masai still clung to their old ways as herdsmen and warriors. The young males had to kill a lion to gain their manhood and cattle raids still occurred.

The Valley is remote, beautiful and teeming with wildlife like a Henri Rousseau painting. Barack and the others sleep in tents and get to know one another.

One of the other men, who was English, tells him that he was born in the central highlands of Kenya but his family had to give up their farm, after independence, and return to England when he was nine. He studied medicine and has returned to Africa but not Kenya to practice where there was a surplus of doctors. Instead he and his wife settled in Malawi and practiced under a government contract where there was a dire need for doctors as there were only eight doctors for  half a million people and a constant shortage of supplies. People were dying of preventable or curable diseases and now the region was beset with Aids. In some villages fifty percent of the people had the disease. The doctor was grim in his assessment of conditions.

Noting his pessimism Barack asked why he had come back. The man answered, I view Africa as my home with its open spaces and ecological beauty, London was too crowded and confining for him. This said, he knew he would eventually be replaced by a native doctor and have to go back to England where he felt out of place.

On their return they find that Roy has come back from the United States. He is the eldest son and the women treat him with respect catering to his every whim. Auma is upset at this treatment and sees no reason for it other than the fact he is the first born male.

Barack learns the facts of David’s death.  Roy and David had gone to a club where Roy met a woman he took a fancy to and a man objected saying he was the woman’s husband. A fight broke out and Roy was arrested for lack of identification papers. David came to the jail and asked for the motorcycle keys. He had been drinking and Roy didn’t want him to drive. David convinced him he should go back to the house and get Roy’s papers so he wouldn’t have to spend the night in jail. Roy gave in and on his way David got in an accident and was killed.

Seeing Roy’s remorse, Barack says it was an accident Roy and not your fault. You should let it go.  It seems that Africa was a place of great hope and beauty but of many heart breaking stories.