Sundays 8pm to 11pm on Radio 2
Need more Strombo Show? Head over to our page on CBC Music for new episodes, playlists and video extras.
In Kenya, there's no such thing as a half-sibling. In fact, it's normal for Kenyans to refer to their cousins, or even close friends, as brothers or sisters. So when Auma Obama got a letter from a half-brother she'd never met she didn't think twice about becoming involved in his life. And what a life ....
Auma's father, Barack Sr., left Kenya while she was still in her mother's stomach. He went to study at Harvard, and the University of Hawaii, where he met and married an American woman named Ann Dunham. Barack and Ann had one son together: the future President of the United States.
Soon after, Barack Sr. separated with Ann and came back to Kenya (and into Auma's life). He worked as a senior economist with the state government, and was viewed as a forward-thinking and politically charged man of his day. Auma and her half-brother didn't actually meet until after their father's death in 1982. They became fast friends, and visited with one another in Africa and America. In his book, 'Dreams from my Father', Barack credits Auma with helping him to reassess his dad, his own political career, and even his identity.
Auma eventually moved to Germany, to study linguistics and film. In the late 90s she met Branwen Okpako, who would later direct the documentary 'The Education of Auma Obama', which aired at the Toronto International Film Festival. It paints an honest portrait of Auma, as a politically engaged woman who's proud of her brother's accomplishments, but determined to forge a path of her own.