Obama recounts his life growing without a father figure around

Thursday, March 25th, 2021 00:00 |
Barack Obama and his wife Michelle. Photo/Courtesy

Nyaboga Kiage

Former US President Barack Obama has revisited his relationship with his father Hussein Obama Snr and how it impacted his future life.

In a podcast he runs alongside US musician Bruce Springsteen, Obama lamented that his late father’s perennial absence robbed him of a role model he could look up to when making choices in life.

Obama recalled that the last time he saw his father was when he was 10 years old, forcing him to soldier on in life on his own with no fatherly figure to look up to. 

“My father was never in the house and one of the things about this is that I was not seeing someone who had a craft or a trade or a profession that looked like something that I should emulate or do,” the 44th President of the US said. 

He recounted how his father left the US for Kenya when he was only two years old, only to return when he was 10 years old.

He recalled that for over one month after his father returned to the US, he could not get along with him because he did not know who he (Obama Snr) was and what he was doing at their home.

Obama said that his father tried to convince his mother to accompany him back to Kenya and establish a home here, to no avail.

Obama Snr eventually resigned to the fact that Barack’s mother Ann Dunham was not ready to relocate to Kenya and stayed with them for a month before flying back to his homeland. 

After joining college, Obama made a decision to travel to Kenya and spend some time with his father.

This was never to be as Obama Snr perished in a car crash before he could travel to Kenya, says the former US president.

 Looking back, Obama reminisces that staying away from his father perhaps saved him the agony of watching him struggle in life.

“It was probably good that I had not lived in his home because much in the same way that your dad was struggling with a bunch of stuff, he was struggling with a bunch of stuff and it created chaos and longstanding wounds in my siblings that I did not have to deal with,” Obama said. 

Obama faulted society for defining toughness rather than compassion to humanity as the measure of fatherhood.

Instead, men are seen as a domineering lot, something the former US leader terms unfortunate.

He added that his long absence from his father as he grew up was felt by his wife Michelle, who at one point questioned why he always wanted to do the hard stuff at home. 

According to Obama, he was finding himself doing the tough tasks if only to prove some point. 

“Maybe the reason he left is because he didn’t think it was worth staying for him and that at some point I could have told him that he made a mistake not hanging around with them because I was worth investing in,” he said. 

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