It was long overdue to read this book written by the former president of the United States of America. The first edition of this book was written long before Barack Obama started his political career. He was nearing the end of his studies at Harvard University. he was chosen to be the editor-in-chief of the Harvard Law Review. This first Afro-American to take this position. And he got the opportunity to write a book. The result of this endeavour were the dreams of his father, Barack Obama senior.

The book has been divided into three parts. Part ONE relates his childhood. He was born in 1961 in the state of Hawai (USA). His father was Barack Obama, a Kenya student at the local university, his mother was An Dunham who came form Kansas (USA). When Barack was two years old his parents separated and in the end he returned to Kenya were he had a career with ups and downs, also his marital career was not without upheavals. His mother married again, also with a foreign student at the local University. This time it was an Indonesian student, named Lolo Soetero. The family moved to the capital town of Indonesia. The young barack spent four years in the former Dutch colony and moved back to Hawai where he stayed with grandparents. He continued his education on Hawai and in Los Angeles.

Part TWO of his book is the story of Barack Obama during his working years in Chicago where he organizes people in poorer neighbourhoods to improve their situation and to encourage people to take up their responsibility for their own lives. We see his struggle to connect with these people, mother, fathers, children, youngsters, church clergy, politicians. Neighbourhoods change due to upward mobility adn what is the help that the government of Chicago can give to those who are left behind in areas that bear the brunt of pollution, filth, unemployment, pollution, rising crime.

Part THREE is a search of the legacy of his father Barack Obama sr. After the divorce took place Barack (or Barry as he was called in those days) had seen his father only once, when he paid a visit to them when visiting Hawai. There was some correspondence between junior and senior, but in a formal ways. When Barry is 22 years young he receives the news that his father has died. This whole part is in search of his father. He welcomes his sister Auma, daughter of the first wife of his father, she studies in Germany. He travels to New York to meet Roy, the eldest son of senior, also from his first marriage, to the Kenyan Kezia. In the end Barack travels to Kenya to meet other relatives (I tried to keep track of the complicated family tree). He stays with Auma and she shows him around, travelling through Nairobi, visiting Masai Mara, Mombasa, and to the heartland of Luo, his parental ancestral land. This Part THREE and this book ends with his marriage to a young lady Michelle.

This book is a search for identity, coming from a mixed racial background (white American and black Kenyan) with an added touch of Indonesia, Barack searches his soul, his backgrounds, his contact with his mother and the parents of his mother (who have played an important role in his life), he meets his other part in Kenya.

I have read this book in search of identity during the recent #BlackLivesMatter demonstrations and this highlighted the quest for identity, especially for those from a racially mixed background. Where do I belong? But there is also the opportunity to broaden your horizon and be part of more than one ‘world’, to be a bridge, travelling to places, enjoying both worlds.

Barack Obama – Dreams of my father: a story of race and inheritance, 2004

Dreams from My Father


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I enjoy reading about Africa. New books. Old books. By African writers. By non-African writers. Novel. History. Travel. Biographies. Autobiographies. Politics. Colonialism. Poetry.

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