My little brother Barack Obama: He’s had 12 wives, is accused of beating one of them & wants to be President (of Kenya). Meet Obama’s VERY outspoken sibling
For the briefest moment, Malik Obama’s eyes reflect resentment through the lenses of his metal- framed glasses.
He is fed up with people criticising him for trying to cash in on his younger half-brother’s famous name. ‘It’s also my name and my birthright. Let’s not forget that I was born before him,’ he says.
Barack may have made history as the first black President of the United States, but he is not, Malik suggests, the only member of the family destined for greatness.
For it was drummed into Malik, from a very early age, that he was special and therefore expected to make his mark in this world.
‘My father instilled that in all of us,’ he says. ‘He used to say, “No matter what, you are the very best, because I’m from the best stock. Always keep that in your mind.”
‘And, to be honest, sometimes the only thing that has kept me going was the fact that I’m an Obama; therefore I am somebody.’
Last week, the 54-year-old was forced to fall back on this restorative mantra after suffering a crushing defeat in his bid for political power in Kenya.
He stood as an independent candidate for the governorship of Siaya County in the national elections.
As if that humiliating public drubbing wasn’t enough to contend with, Malik – a practising Muslim – also faces allegations that he is a wife-beater and a philanderer who seduced 17-year-old Sheila Anyango with sweet words and a gift of £24, then made her his 12th wife when she was under the age of consent.
She has said: ‘Marrying him [three years ago] has been the biggest mistake of my life. He beats me, but mostly he’s just nasty and quarrelsome.’ She is not the first spouse to accuse him of abuse.
I find Malik licking his wounds at his base at the Barack H Obama Recreation And Rest Area on the outskirts of Kogelo, the dusty, remote village that is the family’s ancestral home.
The squat building complex is empty. Despite its grand-sounding name, it is little more than a highway pit stop aimed at passing trade.
Casually dressed in a loose shirt, jeans and tan polished shoes, Malik lumbers into the main restaurant section. He is 6ft 4in tall, heavy-set, walks with a slight stoop and grips my hand in a statesman-like double handshake.
He and Barack may share the same father but they have no shared physical features. Nor is he, according to those who heard him on the hustings, a good orator.
But the brothers do share a bond, forged from their first meeting, in adulthood, 27 years ago. They were best man at each other’s weddings and remain in regular contact – especially as both now live in Washington DC.
Malik describes Michelle Obama as a ‘great First Lady’ and says he has visited the White House on numerous occasions, as have other members of the Obama extended family.
‘I see my brother privately at least once a year, when I go to visit him in the White House and say hello. It’s like visiting a working national monument, such as the Smithsonian or Buckingham Palace.
But he’s always at the end of a phone line if I want to talk.
‘I last saw him on November 19 last year, shortly after the US election. I went to the White House and offered him my congratulations.
‘We are close but don’t live in each other’s pockets. I don’t have to be at every big party. I’ve not seen Michelle in a while.
I saw her and the children at the last inauguration, but it was very busy, so we didn’t have time to talk. I can’t say that I have a relationship with my nieces.’
An accountant by profession, Malik describes himself as an independent financial adviser for several American and international companies.
He complains that he is maligned and misunderstood because he is a Muslim and a black man. His voice is deep, with an American twang – he has lived in Washington since 1985 and divides his time between there and Kogelo.
‘Having a famous brother has made me a target of hatred, racism and bigotry against my religion,’ he says. ‘I recently asked Barack what advice he could give me about dealing with all the negativity.
He just laughed and replied, “You’re a big boy. You’re my elder brother, you can take it. Anyway, it’s only four more years.” ’
By then Malik is hoping to have raised enough money to make a bid for the Kenyan presidency, due to be contested in five years.
Some might question his motives, but he says Barack has been encouraging. ‘Back in 2011, when I told him about my plans, he said to go for it. His only advice was that I should be honest, sincere – and to have a thick skin.’
Malik reveals how he once tried to use his family ties to change the shape of international politics – by pleading with his brother to save Libya’s Colonel Gaddafi after his people turned against him in 2011.
‘I went to see my brother and I said look, this is somebody I know and it’s terrible what is going on. Let’s see if we can talk to him and find some kind of rapprochement. He wasn’t interested.
‘He didn’t want to know, which was very disappointing. But he did tell me that he shook Gaddafi’s hand when they met at a conference in Rome.’
Then he chides Barack for not doing enough to help his Kenyan relatives.
‘I’m very proud of my brother, but I would like for him to do a little bit more for the family on this side. I would like to say he could send some money. I give money when asked. That’s what family is for. We’re not well off, though people think we are.’
Read more: DailyMail