In an interview with AP, President Obama’s half-brother, Mark Obama Ndesandjo, described his relationship with his brother as “cold” and stated that when the two first met in Kenya in 1988, “Barack thought I was too white, and I thought he was too black.”
AP conducted the interview as a lead up to Ndesandjo’s autobiography that, in part, highlights the alcohol-fueled domestic abuse he experienced under Barack Obama Sr.
As in his first book, Ndesandjo wanted to raise awareness of domestic abuse by using his family's story, although he said in an interview with The Associated Press on Tuesday that the president's relatives have not universally welcomed his airing of private matters in public. Ndesandjo spoke ahead of a news conference to launch the book in Guangzhou on Thursday.
The book also touches on the “sporadic but intense encounters” with his half-brother, Barack, a relationship Ndesandjo describes as currently “cold”:
Right now it's cold, and I think part of the reason is because of my writing. My writing has alienated some people in my family.
Ndesandjo told AP that this tension with Barack started immediately. When he first met his half-brother in Kenya in 1988, the two did not see to eye to eye, particularly in regard to their racial identities:
Barack thought I was too white, and I thought he was too black. He was an American searching for his African roots, I was a Kenyan, I'm an American but I was living in Kenya, searching for my white roots.
However, despite the current tensions, Ndesandjo hopes to eventually reconcile the distant relationship with his half-brother, saying,
I hope that my brother and I can really hug each other after he's president and we can be a family again.