January 8, 2008

More Obama Family Mania

It's been a busy day here at the Institute for Advanced Obama Relations Studies.

After I discovered the identity of Obama's estranged half-American half-brother Mark earlier this evening, readers alerted me to the BBC story that the losing presidential candidate in the recent Kenyan elections, Raila Odinga, the Luo leader who has helped stir up so much violence (600 deaths) in the wake of his dubious defeat, today claimed he is Obama's first cousin!

Following a couple of calls from Obama, which Obama's spokesman acknowledged, Odinga asserted that he was Obama's father's sister's son.

There's certainly a striking contrast between Odinga and Obama's half-brother Mark, who has kept completely quiet about being the half-brother of one of the world's most famous men.

European monarchs were always related to each other across national boundaries, with lots of consequences. It would certainly make the future more, uh, interesting if the American and Kenyan elites were closely linked by blood.

I don't recall, however, any mention of Odinga in Obama's extended family-obsessed Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance, but I haven't reviewed it thoroughly looking for him. I believe Odinga was still in prison for his part in a 1982 coup attempt when Obama first visited Kenya in 1987, so that might account for Obama not mentioning him.

Or Odinga might just be blowing smoke.

Odinga's father was the first vice-president of Kenya and then a leader of the opposition (the Luo have usually been out of luck in the ethnic struggle for power in Kenya). His name was Oginga Odinga.

The Kenyan candidate's website says that Raila Odinga's mother's name was Mary.

In Obama's book, there is a long narrative by Obama's "grandmother" (who was actually the third wife of Obama's polygamous grandfather -- his real grandmother, the second wife, ran off with another man and her two children were raised by the third wife). It mentions four children of the Senator's grandfather (by his three wives), none of whom were named Mary.

So, I don't see much evidence that Odinga is Obama's first cousin or half-first cousin.

But he might be a more distant relative. For instance, Obama's paternal grandfather was one of five children of one of his father's four wives -- that provides a lot of opportunities for Obama and Odinga to be second cousins or second half-cousins.

As Theodore Dalrymple has pointed out, Africans tend to have an elastic sense of relatedness, depending on how much somebody can do for you. The problem with being a Big Man in Africa, according to Dalrymple, is that the number of relatives you are socially obligated to subsidize keeps expanding as fast as your power. When Odinga spoke, shortly before the actual votes were counted in New Hampshire, his fellow Luo seemed headed assuredly for becoming the Biggest Big Man in the World, so Odinga might have been speaking a little expansively about the closeness of his relationship with Obama.

Perhaps Odinga is trying to boost his political standing within Kenya by getting people to believe that it's only a matter of time before he has his kinsman, the President of the United States, on his side in his struggle. It has become common for the losing side in disputed elections to reverse the decision by overthrowing the government with the backing of the U.S., as in Serbia and Ukraine, so creating the image of being backed by America can create a sense of inevitability.

A lot of people in Kenya assume that a President Obama would intervene to help his fellow Luo finally win the power that has so long been denied them in Kenyan politics. It would be helpful if Obama issued a categorical statement that if elected, he would not intervene in Kenyan affairs. This might persuade more Luo that rather than hope for ultimate victory through the deus ex machina of President Obama, that they are going to have to work things out with their fellow Kenyans.

Obama could also play a useful or detrimental role in a larger issue involving Kenya. The U.S. has been pouring military force into Northern Kenya, near the border with Somalia, which the Pentagon sees as a crucial front in the War on Terror, as Esquire and the NY Times Magazine have reported. The Pentagon plans to have two dozen U.S. forts in East Africa by 2012. We recently backed Ethiopia's invasion of Somalia. (I called this our Prester John strategy, since the Grand Strategy of post-Crusades Europe was to form an alliance with Priest John, king of Christian Abyssinia, to open a second front in Christendom's struggle with the Musselmen.)

Meanwhile, the NYT Magazine article by Joshua Hammer, The Africa Front, reports on a Kenyan legislative candidate who is raising money from American Jews for his campaign by portraying his opponent, a local Muslim, as a potential jihadist.

I hope that a President Obama, with his intimate knowledge of the corruption and disingenuousness of Kenya, would be less inclined to get America so involved in Northeast African politics. I would hope he's aware that we are much more likely to be manipulated by local power brokers into lining their pockets than we are to succeed at smiting terrorists. He should speak up about the folly of our overly interventionist East Africa policy.

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

28 comments:

Bill said...

It looks plausible that he could be Obama's grandmother's grandson. Check out the picture of her when she was younger (it's in the video).

Here's a good side by side picture of Obama and Raila.

If there's anything I can see at first glance that both he and Obama inherited from there grandmother, it could be the strong lines created by those fleshy pouches adjacent to the nostrils. All three have that characteristic.

TGGP said...

Politicians always want media attention. A physicist would likely just get annoyed. You could even end up with an awkward Giuliani/Butto moment were a relative states they would never vote for their kin.

Steve Sailer said...

Bill,

Thanks. I don't, however, think Obama's "Grandmother" is, technically, his grandmother. I think she's his polygamous grandfather's youngest wife.

Chris said...

I grew up in Southern CA in an area that had a large black population and it always struck me how often someone was "related" to someone else among them. In most cases, the "relative" was a local guy who was successful in the music business or who was a popular DJ or athlete or something.

joe shropshire said...


European monarchs were always related to each other across national boundaries, with lots of consequences. It would certainly make the future more, uh, interesting if the American and Kenyan elites were closely linked by blood.


Sure. Kenya and the United States of America are in 2008, just as Germany and Britain were in 1914. Any idiot can see that.

Steve Sailer said...

The Pentagon sees Kenya as a frontline state in the War on Terror. The U.S. has been increasing the size of its military bases in northern Kenya for hammering Islamists in neighboring Somalia, where we sponsored the recent Ethiopian invasion. Esquire and the NYT Magazine have run articles about it this year.

Personally, I think it's all pretty absurd. Perhaps a President Obama, with his knowledge of Kenya, would be more likely to see how we are being manipulated into pouring money into the pockets off local power brokers by fears of semi-nonexistent terrorists.

But, clearly, the Luo are hoping that the election of a kinsman in the US would bring influence for fairer elections in Kenya that would finally help them seize the supreme power long denied them by their ethnic rivals.

Perhaps Odinga is trying to boost his political standing within Kenya by getting people to believe that it's only a matter of time before he has the President of the United States on his side in his struggle.

It would hardly be unreasonable to ask Obama to state that he would not intervene on behalf of the Luo -- it might lower the level of violence within Kenya if everybody realized they are going to have to work it out amongst themselves rather than assume they will be rescued by an American deus ex machina.

neil craig said...

I suspect he is indeed blowing smoke after all what are the odds of 2 randomly selected Luo (or Nerw hampshirites) being closely related?

However you are right that it would be in Kenya's & probably his own interest to squelch this.

Bill said...

[i]I don't, however, think Obama's "Grandmother" is, technically, his grandmother. I think she's his polygamous grandfather's youngest wife.

-SS[/i]

Well, it is Africa. I guess you can't take much for granted there.

[i]It would hardly be unreasonable to ask Obama to state that he would not intervene on behalf of the Luo -- it might lower the level of violence within Kenya if everybody realized they are going to have to work it out amongst themselves rather than assume they will be rescued by an American deus ex machina.[/i]

You've read the principles of the Trinity Church, right?

Obama is part of "a congregation with a non-negotiable COMMITMENT TO AFRICA" [caps in original].

If Obama becomes president, I guarantee we will see American troops in Africa. Just having an African in the White House will excite passions all over the continent.

When I lived in Beijing I had a bunch of African friends, and one of the things they told me that I laughed off at the time (little did I know) was that they expected to see an African President of the US.

To Africans this has huge significance, and Africans are no less ambitious than anyone else. So whether Obama makes such a statement or not there's going to be some trouble in Africa as a result of his presidential campaign. In fact, I think this might be his achilles' heel.

Can you imagine what people will think when they see photos of guys wearing Obama t-shirts waving machetes?

According to this Al-Jazeera report, Kenya's problems are shaping up to be a regional disaster:

Mohammed Adow, Al Jazeera's correspondent in Nairobi, says the unrest is not only affecting Kenya but the regions of east and central Africa as a whole.

Obama's recent success, as you have suggested, cannot be ruled out as a major contributor to the violence.

Concerned Netizen said...

Suppose Obama gets the Democratic nomination. (I doubt it, but suppose.)

Does anyone seriously think he can get 56% of the white vote when his relationship with Jeremiah Wright is transmitted by a variety of 527's all across the Internet?

I doubt it. The press is having delirium tremens now puffing him up because he's great copy. But soon reality will set in. Maybe it already has, a bit prematurely.

Anonymous said...

It's funny. During the first and second Congo wars, Congolese and pan-Africanist propagandists tried to implant the idea that the Bantu Congolese were victims of Nilotic aggression from the Rwandan and Congolese Tutsis (a tiny tribe that managed to roll over the entire country twice). They later expanded the Bantu vs. Nilotic conspiracy theory into a dark plot by Rwanda's Paul Kagame (the brilliant Tutsi general) and Uganda's Yoweri Museveni (ethnically Hima, another Nilotic tribe) to create a Nilotic empire in east-central Africa.

Like a lot of similar propaganda campaigns (the Malay and Indonesian ones against the ethnic Chinese come to mind), it seemed to be motivated by a genuine fear that the tall, elegant-looking Nilotics really were superior to their shorter, broad-faced Bantu neighbors. And I'd be fascinated to see what the Bantu nationalists think of Odinga's ascent in Kenya and the possibility that another ambitious Luo might become the most powerful man on the planet. It must be the stuff of nightmares to them.

Evil Neocon said...

Steve -- that's more stupidity, to imagine that if we just run away and pretend the bad people don't exist they won't exist.

Remember 1998? Al Qaeda blowing up our embassies in Kenya and Tanzania? Ring any bells?

Allowing AQ space and time to organize in places like Africa or Afghanistan only guarantees more 9/11's. Part of the reason we have not had more 9/11's is that constant military pressure across the globe by American military forces has left AQ unable to organize and plot mass casualty terror attacks in the US.

It's called playing offense.

You are echoing liberal elitism ("stupid working class people's lives don't matter") in the way that terminally trendy radical chic Ward Churchill does. "Of course terrorism doesn't exist! Why if it did like crime we'd have to DO something about it and that would NEVER do!"

America has enemies. In order to deter them we need to play offense. This is normal and has been the usual state of affairs for America since the 1890's.

[Your stance is akin to pretending your leukemia did not exist, in the hope that it would go away. You beat your leukemia by acknowledging it existed and doing whatever it took to survive. We face the same threat wrt AQ, only unlike your case we've diagnosed the problem early enough to avoid drastic measures.]

I'll mention the growing piracy off Somalia's coast. Since Somalia is right next to Red Sea shipping lanes, and a lot of Saudi oil shipments go through that route, if the US does not secure the area rest assured China and/or India will. US policy since the 1890's has rested on control of the sea and sea lanes. Having bases in Kenya helps assure a vital US objective.

Danish cargo ships, oil tankers, cruise ships have all been attacked and in the case of the Danish ship, the crew held for ransom -- released after payment of $20 million. This is a growing and serious problem.

Terrorists non-existent? Yeah right Steve tell that to the 3,000 families of 9/11.

This is your big mental flaw Steve. You deny objective reality because you can't handle the inevitable results of acknowledging the truth. You are as guilty of "magical thinking" as the cargo cultists.

If anything, President Obama is likely to intervene on the side of the Luo. And help establish Sharia Law. Raila Odinga has been reported by the BBC to have signed a memorandum of understanding with the head of the Muslim League.

The understanding would require the Muslim League to throw their support behind Odinga, in return for amending the Kenyan constitution to establish Islam as the only allowed religion and institute Sharia Law.

One of the issues the Liberal Intelligentsia (of which Steve you are a part) ignores about Africa is the battle between Islam and Christianity in Africa. This has deep implications for the US, as Christianity with it's monogamy and better social dynamics for development favor stability over the "Big Man" society of Islam. Given China's voracious appetite for African resources and their organized attempt to use Africa as a defacto Colony to occupy their "bare branches" the US generally benefits from preventing more Jihad to wipe out Christian enclaves.

Not the least of which in the global era is avoiding masses of Christian African refugees in US allied states. Since refugees are destabilizing.

David said...

Great. More entangling alliances.

Just what we need...Obama and his 1 million + Luo etc. cousins, some of them potential African dictators.

George Washington (remember him?) warned of entangling alliances abroad. America for Americans, he said.

So does Ron Paul. Do you remember America when it was America?

dodo said...

Since the MSM was so wide of the mark in their NH primary predictions, they may now swing too far the other way, as they sometimes do.

That means instead of the free ride they have been giving Obama, they will start to say, "Wait a minute, what are all these rumors of half brothers and tribal leader cousins and drunken polygamous dads and whatnot? Maybe we had better look into them."

I hope the Obama institute is ready for this.

Bert Rustle said...

RW Johnson, writing in the UK’s Guardian, gives a description of South Africa’s polygamous Jacob Zuma and others Mr and Mrs Zuma (again)

Rain And said...

Perhaps Odinga is trying to boost his political standing within Kenya by getting people to believe that it's only a matter of time before he has the President of the United States on his side in his struggle.

Yes. Claiming kinship with Obama is the new Kenyan electoral strategy. Several months ago another Kenyan politician made the same claim.

Possibly related to Kenya's Obamania, Kenyans have a more favorable view of America than any other people on earth...including Americans!

dodo said...

Maybe Obama can call his cousin for advice about vote fraud.

According to that, he won the NH primaries by a good margin in the manual recount.

But keep those college kids away from the machetes.

dodo said...

I take back that previous comment. I misunderstood the site. Obama won where the ballots were counted by hand, but there was no recount.

RobertHume said...

Evil Neocon. Yes we must play offense against Al Qaeda around the world. But the reason we have to play offense, and the reason we will continue forever to have to play offense, is because many Muslims support Al Qaeda because of the Israel-Palestinian problem which has lead to occupation of many other Muslim lands.

If we solved the IP problem, our offense against Al Qaeda would succeed and their problem would become negligable.

And the main reason that the US does not do enough about the IP problem is the US neocon/AIPAC support of the right-wing Israelis. Steve is not weird to think like this. See Carter, Walt-Mearsheimer, Phil Weiss, Uri Avnery, etc. etc.

jody said...

last week i was wondering if a president obama would send the US full force into kenya.

how could other nations take the US seriously anymore if a half black guy becomes president and brings a third world agenda to the front? it would make gw bush's mexican adventures seem respectable.

Evil Neocon said...

Roberthume -- AQ and Muslim Jihad is not the cause of "the Jews" anymore than Bhutto being assassinated, or Pakistan falling to AQ slow-motion, or JI in Indonesia, or riots over Danish Cartoons, something the Pope said, or what have you are the result of the "Jews."

Muslims live in a society where the few big men hoard all the women. Leaving those on the outside quite amenable to Jihad (27 Virgins) or the fantasy of "conquering" the infidel and taking their women and goods. In true Big Man society.

Muslims have ALWAYS been like this -- Twain and Churchill in the 1880's describe this. It wouldn't matter if we did not have globalization putting everyone a plane ride or internet web page away from each other.

Jihad and AQ is just the result inevitably of globalization and primitive Big Man societies underlain by aggressive religion against a PC-Multi-culti bound West.

Anonymous said...

Evil Neocon wrote

If anything, President Obama is likely to intervene on the side of the Luo. And help establish Sharia Law. Raila Odinga has been reported by the BBC to have signed a memorandum of understanding with the head of the Muslim League.

No need to settle for BBC reports. View the source material right here. I'm think of sending this to Hillary's campaign on the theory that nobody else will do a better job of disseminating it.

dodo said...

That is an amazing document anonymous. Yikes!

Not only would he enforce all that other Muslim stuff, he would quash the recent legalization of mnazi, busaa, muratina, kaluvu and all other haram beverages...

No wonder he lost.

anony-mouse said...

Obama is also related to Cheney, remember, on his mother's side.

Are you sure you know all your 8th cousins, Steve? Any of your ancestors Jayhawks?

dodo said...

Evil Neocon, Wow! Obama's self proclaimed cousin has really signed a diobolical pact. It's a genuine Faustian bargain. A political deal with the devil was never so clear-cut. ;-)

quo vadis scipio said...

Since the MSM was so wide of the mark in their NH primary predictions

also the intrade online gambling crowd of lemmings got a life lesson from this particular primary. they apparently had swung 99% to obama and so got crushed. it has been disturbing to hear in this campaign how intrade is more accurate than political polling for the reason that "people are putting money where the mouth is" instead of answering questions over the phone. disturbing because intrade as a market can be manipulated with well capitalized pumpers just as any other market can be. so chalk up a small victory for democracy in the smashing of intrade's reputation as a supposed predictive power.

Martin said...

"Muslims have ALWAYS been like this -- Twain and Churchill in the 1880's describe this. It wouldn't matter if we did not have globalization putting everyone a plane ride or internet web page away from each other."

Evil Neocon:

If muslims have ALWAYS been like this, what makes you think they will not ALWAYS be like this. Which would doom your expansive foreign policy, full of all those big military-sounding words you gleen from Tom Clancy novels, to fruitless impotence. We can not make them like us, so the best thing to do is to leave them alone, and insure that they have nothing to do with us.

And your fixation on globalization as some kind of fait acompli is idiotic. Okay, go ahead and read Thomas Friedman if you want to, but don't make the mistake of believing him. Our nation is only as "global" as our liberal elites (there are no other kind) allow it to be. We don't have to allow arabs, or muslims generally, here in the first place.

Or do you dispute that? How was it that Mohammed Atta got into this country in the first place? Did he rise up out of the surf at Atlantic City in a frogmans suit, after having been deposited there by an Al Quaida nuclear submarine?

Oh, that's right, Al Quaida doesn't have nuclear submarines. Mohammed Atta entered the country because WE LET HIM. He came in on a student visa and was allowed to attend pilot schools by our government, which has no more sense than.....well, than you do.

Wouldn't it be easier to police our own airports than to police the whole world?

Oh, and by the way, foreign intervention doesn't prevent refugees from reaching our shores - it is the cause of it. You may not have noticed, because you are not very observant, but we only had vietnamese people in this country AFTER we got involved in vietnam. We only got somalians here, AFTER we became involved in somalia. We are only now receiving large numbers of Iraqis, AFTER we have become involved in Iraq.

And where will we find the cannon fodder to man all the outposts of empire that you would have us build (24 forts in Africa alone, according to Steve's report)? Are you going to join up and risk your hide? Or are your wars only fit to be fought by other people's sons. If this is so important to you, why aren't YOU putting your life on the line to bring the blessings of American liberty to the back alleys of Baghdad and Mogadishu?

Maybe it's because you're a blow-hard, a coward, and a hypocrite.

William said...

we only had vietnamese people in this country AFTER we got involved in vietnam. We only got somalians here, AFTER we became involved in somalia. We are only now receiving large numbers of Iraqis, AFTER we have become involved in Iraq.

And the British with Indians and Pakistanis and Caribbeans, and the French with Algerians, and so forth and so on. These people want to kick us out of their countries then want to come to ours.

Too much international involvement is THE key to being overrun. Stay out of their countries and they'll stay out of ours.


Does anyone seriously think he can get 56% of the white vote when his relationship with Jeremiah Wright is transmitted by a variety of 527's all across the Internet?

1) He doesn't need 56% of the white vote to win. He needs about 42%. Republicans need 58% of the white vote to win. Democrats start with Latinos and Blacks in the bag.

2) You don't need 527s. All you need are various news/blog sites, including this one. It's been kept quiet so far because few people see the need to raise questions about Obama's "religion" when he isn't yet the Democratic candidate. It's also better to raise it after his nomination is secure. Most Republicans think Obama will be a weaker general election candidate than Hillary, so it's best to hold off.

3) There is no explaining African political zaniness. The fact that Africans in Africa have gotten so worked up about a candidate whose father was African says something about their misplaced priorities. Most of these people can barely put food on the table, and they're looking for some "Big Man" to come rescue them. It's like a Cargo Cult. It's basic superstition that whatever your problems in life, some big hand will reach down form the sky and magically rescue you from your misery.

So maybe Obama's election, followed by the failure of any cargo to appear, would open their eyes? Well, Africa's had plenty of "big men", but it hasn't happened yet.

William said...

I think it's reasonable, given the nature of politicians, to assume that Odinga is touting a fictional relationship to Obama for his own political benefit, or that he's pretending to be more closely related than he is.

But it also would be reasonable to assume that Obama is denying his relation to this somewhat odious man in order to protect his political chances in the US. Africa and its politicians have poor and declining reputations in the US. The attitude of so many Americans towards Africa has gone from compassion to contempt.

More and more the attitude of Americans is that Africa is responsible for its own misery. More and more, there's proof to back that attitude up.