Malik Abon’go Obama sits in a leather armchair in western Kenya, places his hand on his heart as speaks softly and recounts the days he and his half-brother, President Barack Obama, bonded.
Malik first brought his brother to Kogelo, 310 kilometers (193 miles) northwest of the capital, Nairobi, in 1988. He was fulfilling a promise to their father to bring his sibling to the ancestral home. His house is across the road from Sarah Obama, Barack’s 94-year-old step-grandmother, near where their mutual father, Barack Hussein Obama, is buried. The homestead has free-range chickens and cattle roaming around the grass, which is littered with mangoes that fall from the trees.
Malik recalls the days when they’d listen to music by artists like Mario and Franco from the Democratic Republic of Congo. And the time they went tramping through the bush looking for chang’aa – moonshine that translates as ‘‘kill me quick’’ – though Barack was a teetotaller at the time, as Malik is now. The two would also play games such as one in which Barack would try and step on the older Malik’s toes.
The U.S. president touches down in Kenya today, but he won’t be visiting Kogelo. U.S. Ambassador Robert Godec says the president is expected to meet members of his family in Nairobi.
‘‘I would like for us to just sit down and have a vanilla ice cream or a strawberry fruit cake, just to have a nice dinner, nice steak, Caesar salad, sit down and enjoy each other,’’ Malik said.