November 18th, 2009
01:55 PM ET
5 years ago

Obama brothers meet in China

(CNN) – President Obama's four-day visit to China was aimed at building deeper ties - and also spending time, albeit briefly, on family relationships.

In between his arrival in Beijing, China, on Monday and his informal dinner with Chinese President Hu Jintao a few hours later, President Obama met with his half-brother Mark Obama Ndesandjo.

"We just had a big hug. ... It was very, very powerful and very, very intense, because he's my big brother," Mark Obama said.

Mark Obama, who has spent the past seven years living in southern China, recently wrote a semi-autobiographical book titled "Nairobi To Shenzhen."

In it, he claims that he was often physically abused by his father, Barack Obama Sr.


"What I wanted to do is write about my father," he said. "My father beat me. He beat my mother."

Mark Obama went on to say that oftentimes, he heard thuds coming from the living room and would "hear my mother's screams and my father shouting."

"I wanted to protect her ... but I couldn't do anything."

When asked whether the president shared experiences with their father, Mark Obama - a pianist in China - simply said that "we talked about family."

In an interview with CNN, President Obama said that although he has not read his half-brother's book, "it's no secret that my father was a troubled person."

Just like the president, Mark Obama was the child of a mixed marriage.

Although he never knew his half-brother while growing up, the two have met from time to time as adults.

"There is always that personal connection. I honestly don't see him as the president of the United States when I am next to him," Mark Obama said.

As to how the two stay in touch, Mark Obama said that "I would rather not go into that for various reasons, but we know how to get in contact with each other if we have to."

– CNN's Ed Hornick contributed to this report.


Filed under: President Obama
soundoff (6 Responses)
  1. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Wow, just wow!! For all of those seeking for inspiration in order to escape and elevate themselves out of their current conditions look no further than our President. Obama's family is not your cookie-cutter portrait of Americana a la Rockwell, but rather a modern day and more realistic depiction of our interwoven American tapestry. With it's imperfections yes, but ultimately a portrait of a family where circumstances were overcome, and the individual triumphed. What could be more American than that I ask you?

    November 18, 2009 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  2. Marry

    Wonderful! So glad they met.
    Great President!

    November 18, 2009 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  3. gary davis Harbor Oregon proud american

    thats great that he has a brother . and that who cares if there father was a jerk .. they have moved on about it just like alot of people do all over the world . no ones family is perfect . and this is a perfect example of how each of use deal with problem family neighbors

    gary davis
    harbor oregon
    proud of our president :)

    November 18, 2009 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  4. Laverne

    President Obama truly is a special person and it is nice he is reconnecting with his blood line.

    November 18, 2009 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  5. Pepou

    It's very moving. They both are wonderful people and I remember the way President Obama affectionately referred to his half-brother in his memoirs.

    November 18, 2009 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  6. jk

    That is an inspiring story....
    President Obama doesn't hold grudge with his brothers sisters or even get bitter over his dad leaving him when he was 2.
    What a role model. I believe this helped to be who he is today...

    November 18, 2009 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |