January 31st, 2009
10:04 AM ET
7 years ago

Obama's half brother arrested in Kenya

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/WORLD/africa/01/31/george.obama.arrest/art.obama.brother.cnn.jpg caption=" George Obama was arrested in Kenya on a charge for possession of marijuana, according to police."]NAIROBI, Kenya (CNN) - George Obama, the half brother of U.S. President Barack Obama, has been arrested by Kenyan police for possession of marijuana, police said Saturday.

Inspector Augustine Mutembei, the officer in charge, said Obama was arrested for possession of cannabis, known in Kenya as Bhang, and resisting arrest. He is scheduled to appear in court Monday, Mutembei said.

He is being held at Huruma police post in the capital of Nairobi.

CNN Correspondent David McKenzie talked with George Obama at the jail where he is being held. Speaking from behind bars, Obama denied the allegations.

"They took me from my home," he said, "I don't know why they are charging me."

George Obama and the president barely know each other, though they have met before. George Obama was one of the president's few close relatives who did not go to the inauguration in Washington last week.

In his memoir, "Dreams from My Father," Barack Obama describes meeting George as a "painful affair." Barack Obama's trip to Kenya meant meeting family he had never known.

McKenzie tracked down George Obama in August 2008 and found him at a small house in Huruma, a Nairobi slum, where he lives with his mother's extended family. His birth certificate shows he is Barack Obama's half brother.

The two men share the same Kenyan father.

In the memoir, Barack Obama struggles to reconcile with his father after he left him and his mother when he was just a child.

Like his half brother, George hardly knew his father. Barack Obama Sr. died in a car accident when George was just 6 months old.

George was his father's last child and had not been aware of his half brother's fame until he rose to prominence in the Democratic primaries last year.

Unlike his grandmother in Kogela, in western Kenya, George Obama had received little attention from the media until reports about him surfaced in August 2008.

The reports sprung from an Italian Vanity Fair article saying George Obama lived in a shack and was "earning less than a dollar a day."

The reports left George Obama angry.

"I was brought up well. I live well even now," he said. "The magazines, they have exaggerated everything.

"I think I kind of like it here. There are some challenges, but maybe it is just like where you come from, there are the same challenges," Obama said.

Obama, who is in his mid-20s, said at the time that he was learning to become a mechanic and was active in youth groups in Huruma. He said he tried to help the community as much as he can.

- From CNN's David McKenzie

Filed under: Obama family
soundoff (138 Responses)
  1. Ernie in LA

    No problem, just move him into the White House with the rest of the family.

    January 31, 2009 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  2. Vincent Petrosino

    This proves that President Obama comes from family with many problematic members just like other presidents. Remember Billy Carter? Remember Roger Clinton and Neil Bush? But in this case, President Obama does not even know this half-brother living continents away. How fortunate for us he was raised by a loving mother and two very loving grandparents in the United States of America.

    January 31, 2009 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  3. philip

    Sooooooo, the guys is half a world away, only met the President once, is not even a US citizen and this is news? Maybe this is what the far right has been looking for – maybe we need a special prosecutor and an impeachment hearing in the House. Who cares about some third world nobodybeing arrested for pot?

    January 31, 2009 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  4. Colin the Salesman

    In all honesty, is this anymore relevant to our current situation than Bristol Palin's mother-in-law getting busted? I want to state from the outset that while I am center/left in my politics, and I'm tired of tabloid journalism designed to divide and titlate, rather than inform our citizenry. I don't see how this is news-worthy in the least, except to appease the conservatives who violate orders and read CNN. Please use some real editorial discretion, and cover stories that actually impact our lives.

    January 31, 2009 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  5. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    Only one person out of millions of Kenyans caught and arrested for marijuana possession and it happens to be George Obama is remarkable.

    January 31, 2009 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  6. Jim

    Look out. LOL, likes to puff the joint once in a while, who doesnt. No story here, not exactly "drugs" in todays world. Be more worried about that hickish meth making its way around the US, or all the drinking and driving our kids love to do, which is the real "gateway" if ive ever seen one. Weed is such a distraction. Nice pic too to top off the story =)

    January 31, 2009 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  7. Nick

    Ahhhhh.....I can smell it CNN, the desperation of getting the latest news, trying to stay ahead of your competition. Having worked in local media for years, I know what that's like. But I also know the difference BETWEEN ACTUAL NEWS AND GARBAGE! This is ridiculous – who gives a rip? How does this have an impact at all on Americans' lives? Because of national media outlets like you, my job is harder, because people believe I'm out to attack them on bogus leads. Pathetic....

    January 31, 2009 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  8. gbrown2

    And this is newsworthy because? Who cares about a half brother who lives in another country!!!!!! Give us a break with this crap!!!!

    January 31, 2009 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  9. 82nd Airborne Division

    George OBAMA was arrested for smoking cannabis, oh my God the world is coming too an end! Why is this news? George pay the fine
    and remember that your half brother is now the President of the most
    powerful Nation in the world so expect your every move too be watched.

    I guess them Obama boys like the to smoke the Herb.LOL

    Peace People each one teach one!

    January 31, 2009 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  10. tws1906

    So what...

    January 31, 2009 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  11. Kenya

    Barack Obama should understand the african politics. The big mistake he did is to say that he is not happy with the win of President Kibaka of Kenya. What do you expect? That is Africa my friend. He should call him and apologize or be ready to see his family members suffer.

    January 31, 2009 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  12. mayah

    maybe you can report on all the other thousands of people that have been busted also, so what he is the presidents half brother, who cares..

    January 31, 2009 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  13. Sue

    Someone else needing their 15 minutes of fame...obviously jealous of the attention his brother has received.

    January 31, 2009 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  14. magella

    This story does NOT belong on the political ticker.

    January 31, 2009 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  15. Amy

    Really CNN, do you really have to report news about every distant relative of someone to cause controversy. Is there not enough real news to report. I am tired of seeing all these stories whose only intention is to create ire and political discourse. How about writing something useful!

    January 31, 2009 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  16. Mike O'Brien

    Hard to comment on.. His half brother did it when he was young. I did it when I was young. He has been under some 'unusual' stress lately with his half brothers election and the media bugging him everyday. However, we 'all' make mistakes and there is 'no excuse' for this one. George.., we wish you the best. Don't know the laws in Kenya. Hope everything goes well. Mike in Montana

    January 31, 2009 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  17. James

    Why don’t you cover issues that will make a difference in the lives of millions of Americans and millions of people around the world? There is no scarcity of troubling issues to cover, take for example my issues. Why don’t you cover my story – my beef wit the medical insurance industry? Recently, a doctor prescribed a medication to me – The prescription paper wrote 5 refills and 4 pills per refill. Each time I go to the pharmacy, I pay an average of 25 dollars per fill, as my co-payment. At the end, I paid a total of 125 dollars for 20 pills. Logically the doctor could have prescribed 20 pills in one fill, which would cost about 25 dollars out my pocket – as a co-payment.
    This is a troublesome because I am paying over 2,000 dollars a year for medical insurance.
    My question to you – Is the doctor getting kickback from the insurance company?
    What if I did not have medical insurance – How much would I pay for these 20 pills? What can we tell 20 millions plus of uninsured Americans? Here is a real story – contact me if you’d like to cover this story – drama.real@yahoo.com

    January 31, 2009 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  18. HB In LA

    Why is this making news? This has nothing to do with our President... The news media is out of control...

    January 31, 2009 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  19. No Bull

    How is this relevant to American Politics?

    Barack Obama has ZERO dealings with this stepbrother halfway around the world.

    January 31, 2009 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  20. Dan, TX

    Are we looking at a future President of Kenya?

    January 31, 2009 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  21. Coherent1

    So what does this mean? Impeachment? LOL! You've got to try a little harder than this. Try attaching President Obama to his own faults, please?

    January 31, 2009 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  22. It runs in the family.....

    A bigger problem than the 1/2 brother selling drugs is the illegal immigrant aunt who has lived off taxpayer money in Public housing even though she was deported 4 years ago.

    Now someone is hiding her illegally in the U.S. when she should be on the next boat to Kenya

    As a "legal" immigrant, I am outraged at this.

    January 31, 2009 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  23. flyer

    Sorta looks like using drugs runs in the family.

    January 31, 2009 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  24. David of West Virginiia

    Watch the Limbaughs of the Right Wing Republican Party have a field day with this one. The druggie, himself, will play holier than thou with this one.

    January 31, 2009 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  25. jackquilne

    I am Kenyan and this story is a lie....

    Obama's dad died in 1982. Obama has 1 sister and two brothers in kenya of who are all well educated......

    His sister is a Lecturer in Nairobi University.

    His brother works with Central Bank Of kenya

    The younger brother is an actuarist with an insurance company......

    wow, where did the media get this story from?

    January 31, 2009 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
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