President Barack Obama’s father was an abusive alcoholic, according to accounts in his half-brother’s memoir.
Mark Obama Ndesandjo, who is several years younger than the President and grew up with their father, describes him as a brilliant man with serious problems.
“I remember the sounds of my mothers’ screams and I remember the sounds of breaking, things breaking,” he told CNN. “And I remember that I couldn’t protect her. That’s something that no child ever forgets.”
Recalling a particularly violent incident when he was six or seven-years-old, Barack Obama’s half-brother said:
“My father actually broke -came in the door, against the restraining order, and held a knife to my mother’s throat,” he said.
Ndesandjo and Obama have the same father, but the President’s mother was Barack Obama Sr.’s second wife, and his half-brother’s mother was Obama Sr.’s third wife.
Barack Obama met his father once because his parents divorced soon after he was born, and his views of his family has caused friction with his relatives.
“Barack I don’t think accepts -or at least does not want to know – the details of the beatings that occurred in our family,” Ndesandjo said. “I love my brother. He’s a great president. Sometimes he’s a lousy brother.”
The White House did not respond to comments on Barack Obama’s half-brother’s claims. However, in a 2009 interview, the President said he was not ignorant of his father’s faults.
“It’s no secret that my father was a troubled person. Anybody who has read my first book, Dreams from My Father, knows that, you know, he had an alcoholism problem, that he didn’t treat his families very well. Obviously it’s a sad part of my history and my background. But it’s not something that I spend a lot of time brooding over.”
When they first met in Kenya in the 1980s, where Ndesandjo lived at the time, he was trying to find his American roots, and Barack Obama was “really looking for his African side.”
Ndesandjo says Barack Obama was trying to “find more about himself and his identity. And I respect that. But I also felt that there was a rejection of a lot of Western culture.”
“I felt that my brother -at that time- felt that I was too white,” he said. “And I thought he was too black.”
“That imposing voice, and also that commanding presence – he was almost like a barracuda with his questions,” Ndesandjo said of the President.
Even though they have been at odds because of their different upbringing, Ndesandjo credits Barack Obama for making him embrace the family name, which he had avoided long ago.
Ndesandjo lives in Hong Kong and hopes to bring awareness to domestic violence with his memoir, which will be published in February 2014.
When they met years ago, after 20 years of estrangement, they enjoyed each other’s company.
“We laughed, and we hugged, and that was one of the most wonderful moments of my life. And Barack made it possible,” Obama’s half-brother said.