MN Exclusive: President Obama’s Brother, Mark Obama Ndesandjo, Talks Domestic Violence Endured By Their Father
What are the similarities and differences between you and President Obama
The story of Barack and I begins about fifty years. Our father went to Hawaii and met Ann Dunham. Shortly after Barack was conceived. Two years later, our father went to Harvard University and met my mother. Shortly after that I was conceived. We are both mixed race. We are both American and have white American mothers. We have the same father. We both went to really good schools and both of us have a real desire to make a difference in other people’s lives. Even though we have a lot in common, there are things that have pulled us a part. This goes back to my book, the things that make Barack and I similar are connected through the history of the Obama family. To a certain extent, even though we have our differences, Barack and I are the only mixed race kids in the Obama family as siblings. In many ways we are like Siamese twins. We look at things differently but we are very much attached. The book also discusses this because people are not clear about the structure of our family history. I included a family tree at the end of my book.
How do you think a “mixed-race” identity is developed?
When you are of mixed race, I believe you tend to identify with one or the other parent. I think that happened with Barack and I. We, or at least I, identify with my mother. She was a source of safety for me. I was not able to protect her growing up from my father and I think for a long time he showed me how to relate to Kenyan and African culture. That is why I really took to Western culture. When we met in 1988, I saw Barack searching for his African roots. Not that black is bad and white is good, but I was trying to find my white roots since I lived in Kenya. I believe the people who are strongest in supporting us and achieve some level of success in our lives were our mothers. I think they were educated mothers who had a real understanding of Western Culture but yet wanted us to be global citizens.
In a recent Politico article, you shared hopes of reconciling your relationship with President Obama after his presidency. What do you think will be different between the both of you in 2016?
I have reached out to my brother since he became President and he has distanced himself from me and others in our family. Sometimes I think that is the politician within my brother. Barack is naturally reserved, so he would probably be the one that needs to reach out. After 2016, the only difference will be he will no longer be President. We will see what happens. I would love for him to work out some of these things with me, so we can connect and we probably will. There are so many families who have huge problems and I think my memoir can be a could message for women and children around the world in regard to domestic violence. Sometimes we have to step back from our own pride and traditions. We must think outwards to share with people, our experiences.
Please note: A portion of the memoir’s sales will be invested to the Mark Obama Ndesandjo Foundation. The foundation promotes art education for the youth and the sales will also aid organizations that help disadvantaged children worldwide.