The Daily Mail's investigative report into the true story of Barack Obama Sr., the man mythologized by Barack Obama Jr., in his bestseller Dreams from My Father, reveals a life story remarkably similar to the fictional life of the narrator of John Updike's spectacular 1978 novel of Africa, The Coup.
Updike's Col. Ellellou was born into rural poverty in Africa, married a local girl from the village, wound up at a U.S. college, where he bigamously added a white second wife to his collection, then returned to Africa, embarked on a political career, and accumulated two more wives. Updike has a son-in-law and a daughter-in-law who are black Africans, so his insights into Africa are founded on deep thought.
A drunk and a bigot [sic - should be "bigamist"] - what the US Presidental hopeful HASN'T said about his father...
It is a classic story of the American dream made real: an impoverished Kenyan goatherd rising to become a brilliant Harvard-educated economist. On the way he fights racial prejudice at home and corruption at work, survives the heartbreak of a broken relationship and, despite it all, leads the fight to rid Africa of its colonial legacy.
This extraordinary story is told by US Presidential hopeful Barack Obama as he recalls the life of the man who inspired him to political success - his father. Mr Obama's book, Dreams From My Father, is flying off the shelves of US book stores, exciting and astonishing readers in equal measure. It is a bestseller, and no wonder - because the story just gets better and better. …
Yet an investigation by The Mail on Sunday has revealed that, for all Mr Obama's reputation for straight talking and the compelling narrative of his recollections, they are largely myth.
We have discovered that his father was not just a deeply flawed individual but an abusive bigamist and an egomaniac, whose life was ruined not by racism or corruption but his own weaknesses. And, devastatingly, the testimony has come from Mr Obama's own relatives and family friends. …
Grandfather Obama sent his son to a missionary school but after completing his education, the youth could find little work except goatherding in his remote village of Nyangoma Kogela, in the roadless hills of Western Kenya.
At 18, he married a girl called Kezia. But Obama Snr was more interested in politics and economics than his family and his political leanings had been brought to the notice of leaders of the Kenyan Independence movement.
He was put forward for an American-sponsored scholarship in economics, with the idea being that he would eventually use his Western-honed skills in the new Kenya. At the age of 23 he headed for university in Hawaii, leaving behind the pregnant Kezia and their baby son.
Relatives say he was already a slick womaniser and, once in Honolulu, he promptly persuaded a fellow student called Ann - a naive 18-year-old white girl - to marry him. Barack Jnr was born in August, 1961.
Two years later, Obama Snr was on the move again. He was accepted at Harvard, and left his little boy and wife behind when he moved to the exclusive east coast university.
At the time, Ann explained to their son that his father had gone because his meagre stipend would not support the family if they lived together. But finance was the least of her worries.
Mr Obama Jnr claims that racism on both sides of the family destroyed the marriage between his mother and father.
In his book, he says that Ann's mother, who went by the nickname Tut, did not want a black son-in-law, and Obama Snr's father 'didn't want the Obama blood sullied by a white woman'.
In fact Ann divorced her husband after she discovered his bigamous double life. She remarried and moved to Indonesia with young Barack and her new husband, an oil company manager.
Obama Snr was forced to return to Kenya, where he fathered two more children by Kezia. He was eventually hired as a top civil servant in the fledgling government of Jomo Kenyatta - and married yet again.
Now prosperous with a flashy car and good salary, his third wife was an American-born teacher called Ruth, whom he had met at Harvard while still legally married to both Kezia and Ann, and who followed him to Africa. …
Unlike Updike's Col. Ellelou, however, who became a teetotaler when he joined the Black Muslims in Milwaukee, Obama Sr.'s alcoholism cost him his career and life.
Friends say drinking blighted his life - he lost both his legs while driving under the influence and also lost his job. However, this was no bar to his womanising: he sired a son, his eighth child, by yet another woman and continued to come home drunk. He was about to marry her when he finally died in yet another drunken crash when Obama was 21. …
In his book, he attempts to put the best face on it. His father, he writes, lost his civil service job after campaigning against corrupt African politicians who had 'taken the place of the white colonials'. One of Obama Snr's former drinking partners, Kenyan writer Philip Ochieng Ochieng says, however, that his friend's downfall was his weak character. …
Mr Obama claims that he, too, has been racially abused, even during his campaign for the White House. His mother, Ann, decided that he should get an American education and sent him back from Indonesia to Hawaii, where he was admitted to a £7,000-a-year prep school, Punahau Academy, and lived with his maternal grandparents. And while there, says Mr Obama, he was tortured by fellow pupils - who let out monkey hoots - and turned into a disenchanted teenage rebel, experimenting with cocaine and marijuana.
Even his grandparents were troubled by dark skin, he says in his book, recalling how once his grandmother complained about being pestered by a beggar. "You know why she's so scared?" he recalls his grandfather saying. "She told me the fella was black." Mr Obama says his soaring 'dream' of a better America grew out of his 'hurt and pain'.
Friends, however, remember his time at school rather differently. He was a spoiled high-achiever, they recall, who seemed as fond of his grandparents as they were of him. He affectionately signed a school photo of himself to them, using their pet names, Tut and Gramps. The caption says: "Thanks... for all the good times."
Updike will be amused to learn that while at prep school, the future Senator dressed like Updike's literary rival Tom Wolfe:
He worked on the school's literary magazine and wore a white suit, of the style popular with New York writers at the time.
The article confirms what I implied a few weeks ago: that the Presidential candidate was by upbringing a pretty typical upper middle class kid fantasizing a new identity for himself as an oppressed but rebellious African-American standing up to The Man.
One of his former classmates, Alan Lum, said: "Hawaii is such a melting pot that it didn't occur to me when we were growing up that he might have problems about being one of the few African-Americans at the school. Us kids didn't see colour. He was easy-going and well-liked."
Obama went on to tell us about how Columbia U. in Harlem in the early 1980s was practically Mississippi in 1937:
Mr Obama was later admitted to read politics and international relations at New York's prestigious Columbia University where, his book claims, "no matter how many times the administration tried to paint them over, the walls remained scratched with blunt correspondence (about) n*****s."
But one of his classmates, Joe Zwicker, 45, now a lawyer in Boston, said yesterday: "That surprises me. Columbia was a pretty tolerant place. There were African American students in my classes and I never saw any evidence of racism at all."
One of the reasons Sen. Obama strikes many people as refreshingly unlike a typical politicians is because he is unlike most of them. Instead, he more resembles a type of person we like a lot more than a politician -- a pop culture celebrity. Like, say, Madonna, he has devoted his life to reinventing himself, to evolving a persona that will excite the media and appeal to the white majority.
Obama has crafted himself into the New Improved Sidney Poitier, an updated version for 2007 of what Poitier represented to well-meaning whites in 1967. Not surprisingly, actual black Americans are more tepid in their response to Obama's image-honing.