When he was 26, Barack Obama made a visit to his father’s homeland in Kenya for the first time in 1987.There he met his brothers, sisters, and grandmother, later saying that the visit changed his life. These photos here came from that said visit when the now US President was first connecting with his African roots.
The following is an extract from his book Dreams of my Father about his arrival in 1987.
The rush of anticipation had drained away, and I smiled with the memory of the homecoming I had once imagined for myself, clouds lifting, old demons fleeing, the earth trembling as ancestors rose up in celebration. Instead I felt tired and abandoned. I was about to search for telephone when a security guard reappeared with a strikingly beautiful woman, dark, slender, close to six feet tall, dressed in a British Airways uniform. She introduced herself as Miss Omoro and explained that my bag had probably been sent to Johannesburg by mistake …
“You wouldn’t be related to Dr Obama, by any chance?” she asked.
“Well, yes – he was my father.”
Miss Omoro smiled sympathetically. “I’m very sorry about his passing. Your father was a close friend of my family’s. He would often come to our house when I was a child.”
This had never happened before, I realised; not in Hawaii, not in Indonesia, not in L.A or in New York or Chicago. For the first time in my life, I felt the comfort, the firmness of identity that a name might provide, how it could carry an entire history in other people’s memories, so that they might nod and say knowingly, “Oh, you are so and so’s son.”
No one here in Kenya would ask how to spell my name, or mangle it with an unfamiliar tongue. My name belonged and so I belonged, drawn into a web of relationships, alliances, and grudges that I did not yet understand.