MN Exclusive: President Obama’s Brother, Mark Obama Ndesandjo, Talks Domestic Violence Endured By Their Father

January 7, 2014  |  

Mark Obama Ndesandjo

President Obama’s half-brother Mark Obama Ndesandjo is a skillful pianist, author and businessman. Educated at Brown, Stanford and Emory Universities, he uses his skills to create art, pen memoirs, and teach the arts to orphans in Shenzhen, People’s Republic of China. After living there for 12 years, Ndesandjo says living in China helped find himself, whereas growing up in Kenya  taught him survival skills and America overwhelmed him as he attempted to navigate the academic and dating scene.

In 2009, Nedesandjo published his semi-autobiographical novel, Nairobi to Shenzhen.  Currently,  he is preparing for his new memoir Cultures :My Odyssey of Self-Discovery  to be published worldwide February 2014. On the heels of that release, we spoke with Ndesandjo about the book’s intimate details of the domestic violence he and his mother endured from Barack Obama, Sr. — the father he shares with President Obama.

What purpose will your memoir serve to you and the general public?

Michelle Obama, my sister-in-law called me the “wayward one.” She was joking gently but I think she was curious about my background. Although I am of mixed race, I zig-zaged from Kenya to America and now I am living in China. Because I was able to move across cultures, I have observed how people tend to find themselves. In doing so, I wanted to tell my story instead of other people telling it for me. Gandhi once said “To find yourself, you have to lose yourself at the service of others.” It is a really interesting point because my book brings out some real issues that can hopefully help other families to resolve their own challenges. I want my book to showcase the importance of helping others and combating domestic violence.

Does your brother (President Obama) approve of you writing it?

Before Barack became President he told me “go live your life.” My writing has been a tool for me to express how I feel about my family. We all often grow up with our own ideas of how our family is.

What were your thoughts on President Obama’s memoir “Dreams From My Father?”

I actually read his memoir a few years ago. To read a memoir about someone very close to you or a family member takes courage. It will take courage from him to read my book because we both have touched upon things that hit close to home. Barack and I disagree on things when it comes to our personal history. For example, at the time of Barack’s memoir he was trying to develop his political identity. He wanted to reconcile different cultures, to find the best of both cultures that were a part of him. Using our father’s identity, Barack then created his own. When I read the book, I found out there were a lot of things (at least regarding me and my family) that were not accurate. That said, we all have ways of looking at things. It is very natural. I see him as my brother, I don’t always see him as the President. There is always that difference and it is hard to grasp at times.

How do you portray your father in your book versus President Obama’s portrayal?

My book will show the reality of living in Kenya because I grew up there with my father. The portrait that is presented by Barack in his memoir of our father  is a huge difference in how I portray our father. Our father is a man of great disillusion. In other words, I am referring to the drinking and domestic violence. In my book, chapters two and three are titled: “My Parents: A Failed Elopement” and “Dissolution: Johnnie Walker Black Label”. Johnnie Walker, Black Label is the whiskey he drank very often, almost daily. I remember him being around more through his scent of the whiskey than his actual face or presence. These are details that I do not think Barack has come to terms with.

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  • mj58

    His black wives and President’s mother never were beaten, only the Jewish woman…

  • FromUR2UB

    His experience with their father would be different because he grew up with him in his life. He and the president can’t have the same memories or experiences with the man for that reason. Furthermore, I’m tired of these relatives who claim to want a relationship with their celebrity family members, yet go to the media with their criticisms of them. That would alienate most people, so that’s why I question their sincerity.

  • Justcant1980

    Our President is a nice looking man. His brother fine too!

  • kelly

    He is really handsome.

  • sunny

    I hate typos!

  • bumpmd

    He sounds like a user to me… Looking for his white roots? This guy doesn’t give out good vibes. I don’t blame Barak for distancing himself.

  • Pingback: MN Exclusive: President Obama’s Brother, Mark Obama Ndesandjo, Talks Domestic Violence Endured By Their Father – See more at: | Hair Open()

  • Rissie75

    Help! I thought “Half sibling” was when you have the same mother and different father, no? Not that it matters to me, my siblings are me my siblings hell with all that HALF stuff lol….BUT the article is calling this man President Obama’s HALF brother when they share the father but different mother.

    • Psais

      It’s the same thing. You share one parent, and have a different other parent therefore it is a half sibling.

      • Rissie75

        This what I got when I looked the meaning up:
        HALF-BROTHER AND HALF-SISTER. Persons who have the same father but different mothers.

        Now in the article it calls them HALF when they are actually just BROTHERS. **sigh** but I still say it’s stupid to label your siblings as “half” or “Whole”

        • Sarah

          I think you need to cite the source for that definition. Totally incorrect. Half siblings just have one parent in common, doesn’t matter whether it’s the mother or father in common.

          However, many people tend to think that half-siblings where a mother is shared, as “regular” siblings because many children tend to be raised with the mother and in the same household. From a genetics point of view, still a half-sibling though.

          • Rissie75

            Thanks Sarah, once I got home I was able to do more research on the definition.

        • Guest

          You can’t be serious. I refuse to believe that. YIKES!! *shudders**

          • Rissie75

            I’m sorry, refuse to believe what??

        • FromUR2UB

          People who have the same mother but different fathers are referred to simply as brothers/sisters. People of the same father but different mothers are considered half siblings. Why? I don’t know.

          • Rissie75

            That’s what I got when I was able to research it some more…Thanks From 🙂

    • travie andrews

      Personally I don’t believe in the “half” or even the “step” identifier for people. I was raised by my dad who is not my biological father but I do not refer to him as my step father. He is my dad! My sister is his biological child but she is my sister not my half anything! It may need to be defined but I feel it should be relative.

      • Rissie75

        I agree!!!

    • Robinjoy Case

      Doesn’t matter if its the mother or the father. If you share only 1 parent its called half.

  • unque43

    opportunistic. I won’t read it.

  • Pingback: President Obama’s Brother, Mark Obama Ndesandjo Says There Is A “Huge” Difference In Opinion On Their Father | Kempire Daily()

  • Rebbekah

    Isn’t it interesting how educated women attract abusive men? I’m talking about Obama’s mother… why do women turn to these types of men after they get their education? It’s true even in my family. I have 7 educated aunts who have BAs to PdDs and all of them were or are currently in abusive relationships. Let’s stop this trend.

    • btr24

      Its the sex.

      No one wants to come out an say it but thats it.

    • Lucy, NAIROBI

      The educated women spend most of their lives in school and fail to learn the ways of the world (of men) unlike their less educated and street-wise sisters. They marry (their very first) sweet-talking men who turn out to be abusive.

      • Guest

        Are you kidding…poor uneducated women of the world suffer the most abuse at the hands of men. Generally speaking the more educated women are the less likely they are to tolerate abuse. However people’s upbringing does tend to have an impact even later in life. Perhaps the 7 aunts had poor examples growing up.

    • mj58

      Obama ‘s mother was 17 years old when she got pregnant with him and his father was 24 years old… She was a freshman in college… He wasn’t abusive to Anna, well it was the 60’s in the US and he was black… LOL

  • lockstress

    Uhm…booking a flight to China right now! Damn bro….

  • Taneesha Culture Clash Thomas

    dad had some strong genes…

  • Lisa

    I am glad Barack has the sense to stay away from him. He seems opportunistic and would throw Barack under a bus to make himself famous.

    • Rebbekah

      I get that vibe, too… Michele even got it by calling him “wayward” haha

  • Chas

    Well he’s handsome…am I the only one who didn’t know Obama had a brother?

    • Toni

      No…I thought I was the only who did know..

      • Chas

        Thank goodness I was feeling pretty left out for a minute lol

    • MIMI

      Lol are you serious? His elder brother from Kenya was his bestman at his wedding. He has several brothers.

      • Chas

        yea well good to know. Unfortunately i didn’t make it to the wedding nor have I ever heard of any siblings so I learned something new….

        • MIMI

          We all learn something new everyday.

  • coolyfett

    Interesting read, I wonder if Obama would be President if Obama’s mother was black. Obama Sr didnt seem to be found of black women, seems he only dated white chicks. Thats not a good look. Wonder if they have any other brothers and sisters from Obama Sr.

    • Rebbekah

      yeah who knew about this mystery brother.

    • Miss Sisie

      He married 4 times… 2 black, 2 white. Equal opportunist I’d say lol.

      • coolyfett

        He married all 4? Thats whats up!

        • Lucy, NAIROBI

          Serial husband. Serial absentee dad.

      • Darling

        I assume the two white ones came after he had a chance to get a little education and the black ones were prior to his leaving Africa ( when he was poverty stricken and down on his luck). Rather than taking the blk ones with him as he progressed, he upgraded with his change in social status, just like Fredrick Douglass in 1884 and almost every high-profile blk man does today.

        * Before you jump on the Douglass comment, yes, I know his blk wife that was responsible for freeing him from slavery died, BUT he still could have remarried Blk. And there was factual evidence he had another white (German )mistress when married to his Blk wife, and she killed herself when he married the younger whyte woman instead of her.. 🙂

        • Miss Sisie

          Well not really. I know what complex you’re talking about but it doesn’t seem like Obama’s father had it. His first wife was black in Africa, then 2 whites during his time in the US, and the final wife was black and he married her after returning to Africa.
          *no comment on Douglass though lol

    • Campbell Dustin

      He didn’t only date white “chicks”, he dated whoever was convenient. In the 60s and 70s, white women were most convenient at Harvard.

    • Cayenne Peppa Koroma

      Not true, he was with both White women and African women. Barack has 2 half sisters and I believe 6 half-brothers, one of whom died at age 20. David Obama died in 1987, he was the full brother to this cat, Mark Obama.

      • coolyfett


      • Darling

        Well, I’m sure he had trouble finding white women before he made it out of Africa ( during that time).

    • ceri

      Mr President has couple of other siblings since his father had four women who had children for him. Yes, I understand their father was abusive and an alcoholic but he seems like an opportunist. Mr president talked about how his father was absent and never there, so he never condoned his dad’s behavior. And, he’s very mature and respectful. I’ve read about him prior to this, he’s bitter his life didn’t pick up the way Mr president’s life did. And, he seems to be going through some identity crisis or finding peace within himself.

    • kelly

      I’m glad he wasn’t fond of black women. He wasn’t a good husband and father with his white women. Black women dodged a bullet. If a black man will treat a white woman bad (and many do eventually) they would be totally horrendous to a black woman.

      • Chanda

        They mentioned that he also married 2 black women. I guess their father got with whomever would take his azz lol..

        • Lucy, NAIROBI

          Their father was a useless cassanova. He slept with whichever woman he came across and sired children like rats. However fate has a great sense of humour as one of the rats become the president of the United States of America.

          • MIMI

            You are a very bitter soul for calling someone’s child a rat! May God punish you! Did Obama Sr sleep with your mother too? Why are you so bitter?

            • Lucy, NAIROBI

              As in number. Rats are known to sire very many babies – some white, some black. They also don’t take care of their young ones.

              • MIMI

                That does not make referring to someone’s children as rats okay.

    • ExpatExperience

      I have lived in Africa for over 16 yeas. Vising Kenya many times (love Kenya and her people). Although I love Africa, I find the culture to be both intriguing and repressive, especially towards women and children. I believe Mark Obama is honest about his experience in Africa. The men beat their women and this is viewed as a normal way of life. Men also drink quite a bit too throughout Africa. So let us not be too hard on MO and call him an opportunist. It is his experience and we should respect him for the courage to share it with the world.

      • Lucy, NAIROBI

        True. Most African men are very irresponsible. They go out to drink until late and some beat their wives. Those married to white women are even worse as they suffer from an inferiority complex and want to show people that they control a white person. Many are similar to BO Snr. and sire children all over the place.

        • MIMI

          Do you need a hug Lucy? Is everything okay you sound so bitter!

          • Lucy, NAIROBI

            No I don’t need a hug and I’m not bitter. I’m just saying it as it is.

            • MIMI

              You coulda fooled me you come across as a very Bitter Betty. I am guessing your experience with some wayward and irresponsible African men has a lot to do with it.

      • AKenyanGal

        “The men beat their women and this is viewed as a normal way of life” ??

        Physical assault in Kenya even if it happens in a family setting, is a criminal offense punishable under the law. The punishment differs depending on the severity of the assault on the victim.
        The Domestic Violence (Family Protection) Bill, provides for an Act of Parliament to further provide for the intervention in court cases of domestic violence, including physical, sexual, psychological, harassment and intimidation .

        • Lovely

          I am sure ExpatExperience never heard of FIDA Kenya while he was there

      • mj58

        Mark was six years old when his father and mother divorced… I believe his bitterness came from his mother telling him about his father… His younger brother David ran away when he was a teen because he refuse to drop his father’s name and pick up his stepfather name. Obama’s older brother found David on the street begging, and took with him, cause he refuse to go back home. David later died in a motorbike accident.

  • coolyfett

    Mark Obama? Ahhhhhhhhhhh yea!! Thats the new homie.

    • Rochelle

      As an avid reader, I did read Barack Obama’s book “Dreams of my Father.” Obama did not say anything bad about this man that he did not admit himself. Obama went to Kenya searching for his father’s roots and family. He found them. He was welcomed with open arms by his fully black siblings. Obama and his other siblings are close to this day. However, Obama did state that he felt Mark and his mother were standoffish. But personally reading some quotes from this man, I would not doubt what B Obama said about their brief meeting. Mark Obama: “Barack thought I was too white, I thought he was too black.” Sounds accurate considering that M. Obama said that he felt “no ties to Kenya and does not respect the culture or find it at all intriguing,” according to B. Obama. This is coming from a man that grew up with his white mom in the mostly black country Kenya. I see no issue here. Dreams of my Father had like a page about this man’s mother and their brief meeting. He is acting like the whole book was about them. This man is an opportunist who would do anything to gain the spotlight and discount his brother’s writings. It is not that serious. This man seems to dislike his blackness. So much so, he left Kenya and said he had no interest in going back or helping the country in any way. Hightailed to China and married a Chinese woman and took up their culture. Bro, sit down. No doubt this book calling our president a liar will be a Republican book list best seller. Plus why is he constantly throwing his dad under the bus. The man is dead. let him rest. Anything for a buck, eh Mark?

      • MIMI

        True I read an article that said Mark had dropped the name Obama as a young man name and took up the name Ndesanjo which is his Tanzanian step father’s name after his mother remarried. Dude probably reclaimed the Obama name after Barack became POTUS! I would put the link to an interview he gave in Kenya but will have to wait for my comment to be approved so if anyone is interested can you can search fore
        “Capital Talk Mark Obama Ndesanjo” on Youtube
        While you are at it also Google Dr. Auma Obama she is one of the Kenyan sisters very very close to Barack

        Madame Noire still waiting for my previous comments with video links to be approved:(

        • Lucy, NAIROBI

          I read that Ndesandjo (Mark’s step-dad) was Nigerian and not Tanzanian.

          • MIMI

            It may do you well to go on YouTube and watch the interview I mentioned and also read some online article on Mark some written by him. Also a quick Google search will reveal that Ndesanjo is a Tanzanian name.

        • Rochelle

          You are so right. I forgot about that. This man dropped the Obama name because he wanted nothing to do with his father’s legacy. Only recently he is going by his given name. Now he is an “Obama” to collect a check! We see you Mark…..