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The Obamas: an untold story of an African family

Preface Publishing in the UK and Crown Publishing in the USA (2010) View The Obamas ... page 173 - 177

It is often the case in Africa that geography and climate shape its history; this is certainly the case with the River-Lake Nilotic people of southern Sudan.

About 600 years ago, they left their homeland in the Bahr-al-Ghazāl region of Sudan and began a perilous journey south into Uganda and eventually Kenya. It was one of the continent’s greatest migrations and it took more than a dozen generations to complete this almost biblical exodus. It proved to be a long and painful process, but in time, it laid the foundations of the Luo tribe of Kenya.

This was a journey which started with a local chief living in a hut overlooking the White Nile, and it ended 600 years later with the leader of the most powerful nation on Earth living in the White House.

This is a story of farmers and fishermen, of love and war, of families lost and found. From southern Sudan, through northern Uganda and into western Kenya, Peter Firstbrook traces the roots of the Obama family from celebrated kings who ruled over the River-lake Nilotes 850 years ago, through famous tribal warriors in the seventeenth century, to the family’s first encounters with the white man in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century.

Generation by generation, the history of the Obama family gradually unfolds through tribal wars, colonial rule and the struggle for Kenyan independence, to the tangled relationship President Obama’s father had with his four wives, and the turbulent association he had with Kenya’s first president, Jomo Kenyatta.

‘The real fascination of this book, however, is the way the complex story of the Obamas mirrors the equally complex story of Kenya and, indeed, of Africa … this is not just the story of one family with a famous descendant; it's the story of a continent.’
John Spain, Irish Independent

View full Irish Independent review here