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A BRITISHER’S VIEW - Questions loom about Bam’s blood ties

It is easy to romanticize Barack Obama’s personal melting pot and reconcile his qualifications to govern the planet’s most powerful country because of it.

After all, his late mother was a liberal American from Kansas and his late father, a Kenyan Muslim, who fathered eight children by four women, some of whom have expanded their far-flung family tree by marrying British and Russian nationals, with one, as of this writing, engaged to a Chinese native. Add to the mix his half-Indonesian half-sister on his mother’s side, and the extended family stew is a varied one, but not unlike others in today’s age of globalization.

Nor would it merit a second glance were it not for the controversial familial and political allegiances surrounding this Democratic presidential candidate, whose elite Americanism – thus far at least – is obscuring the fact that he was raised by two Muslim fathers, studied the Koran in Muslim-majority Indonesia and is close to an older half-brother, who is a self-professed militant Muslim living in Kenya, a nation bordering on civil war.

As first reported, earlier this year, by Investor’s Business Daily, Abongo “Roy” Obama, who wants his younger sibling to embrace his African heritage, has thrown his support behind embattled Prime Minister Raila Odinga, who belongs to the same Luo tribe as Obama Sr., did. Odinga has, reportedly, pledged to establish Shariah courts throughout the East African nation in addition to imposing bans on pork and alcohol, and enforcing Muslim dress codes for women. The newspaper further reported that Barack Obama “interrupted his New Hampshire campaigning to speak by phone with Odinga.”

Moreover, Abongo’s Afrocentric notion that “the black man must ‘liberate himself from the poisoning influences of European culture’” bodes ill for Americans, who want to distance themselves from zealous nuts, not elect a president, who will possibly side with them because of hard-line ties on the family front.

The grim fact remains that Islam is surpassing Christianity in Africa, and Muslim disorder dominates the historically troubled region at a time when Barack Obama is campaigning hard to be America’s new leader. The trifecta is cause for concern because his strengths can turn into weaknesses on a dime due to a web of mitigating factors, not the least of which, is Mr. Obama’s reluctance to distance himself from the extremism of others, even when it directly impacts him. Remember his humming and hawing over Reverend Jeremiah Wright?

Those of us familiar with Africa know that the continent boasts some of the most savage scenery and people on earth, whose harshness knows no bounds, and whose capacity for harmony is practically non-existent. During my own years of living in Kenya, my family and I became familiar with the national spirit, which was etched in fear, fueled by ethnic feuds and soaked in the blood of tribal warfare. Our relative was left for dead on her doorstep with a Kikuyu tribesman’s pick-axe lodged in her forehead. A cousin, who lived in the port city of Kisumu was robbed of his valuables and clothes, beaten and left to walk home for miles along a dirt road, naked. At that time, people did not let their children out to play for fear of kidnappings and murder by the violent Kikuyu tribe, whose Mau-Mau resistance fighters revolted against the British and brought Kenya to its knees in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

Interestingly, Odinga’s rival, Mwai Kibaki, who won the December 2007 elections, which are widely-thought to have been rigged, is a Kikuyu.

As the world expands, so too does its human community and its relationships with people from far-off lands. That’s good. But some things, however great in theory, have a downside in practice. In Barack Obama’s case, it will be interesting to follow his personal mosaic, which has the potential to pit his ancestral ties against America’s national and international security.

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