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. Proud American

    Give me a break the entire republican party are drug addicts and perverted. Cindy, Rush or and let's not forget the Jeb's daugther. There no story here move on. cannabis? what a joke

    January 31, 2009 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  2. Lois

    WOW, what an earth shattering news item!

    January 31, 2009 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  3. JAE

    Typical. The blacks NEVER do anything wrong, they ALWAYS blame others or "circumstances" on everyone or everything else. Where there's smoke, there's fire dude. Now that his mug has been splashed all over the world and, he's Barack's half brother, a BIG deal will be made of this, that he's "just got to be" innocent. B.S.!

    Just watch, now George Obama will get a big bail out. Doesn't seem to me, these guys had a stable Dad or Mom. Different Mom's for each kid, geez, nothing like screwing whoever, huh?

    Barack, if I were you, and thank goodness, I'm not, I would NOT acknowledge the jungle boy over in Kenya. As the story says, you hardly know him and the visit was painful anyway.

    One other thing about George Obama, WHO CARES???

    January 31, 2009 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  4. dennis lee hoffman, citizen of the world

    I see Kenya has the same unnecessesary law we do

    January 31, 2009 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  5. janet, ohio


    I wonder if all the libs who made fun of Palin because her daughter's fiance's mother was arrested for possession, (and called her trailor-trash, and said they should all go on Springer, etc,) will now say anything negative about Barack when his own blood brother is arrested.

    And BTW, as an ultra-conservative right-wing Republican, I'm actually intelligent enough to realize that George Obama's behavior says nothing whatsoever in regards to the character of Barack Obama.

    January 31, 2009 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  6. Cory, MD

    who cares?

    January 31, 2009 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  7. Joe the Troll

    This bust wouldn't be news-worthy if it weren't oh-so-tenuously related to Obama. I expect that Republicans, being the fair-minded people that they are, won't make a any more of this than they did Bush's niece or Palin's future son-in-law's mom.

    January 31, 2009 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  8. Bridgette-PA

    OK, CNN, this isn't news. Do you plan to "tickerize" every EXTENDED family member of our new president for everything they are involved in (good and bad) for the next 8 years??? If so, if will be the longest 8 years of my life!

    January 31, 2009 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  9. Sharon

    President Obama is not his brother keeper. Bush & Carter had family member involed with the law. This news have no reflexation on Barack Obama

    January 31, 2009 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  10. david

    c'mon now, what happens in kenya should stay in kenya.

    January 31, 2009 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  11. Peter (CA)

    Oh, what will the right wing folly be today:
    1) All of Obama's family and friends are criminals?
    2)Obama forgets his family?
    3)Obama will probably try to pardon him?
    Given the vapid nature of the comments regarding a Super Bowl party, ANYTHING is possible.

    January 31, 2009 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  12. MK

    Siblings and close relatives of current Presidents always have a hard time. Anyone remember "billy beer" or Roger Clinton? How about Neil Bush and his ex-wifes tell all family book or W's neice (Jeb's daughter) and her arrest for xanex prescription forgery? Swings both ways. Best be squeaky clean if you have a sibling, aunt, uncle, running for office or else we'll find you and make a mockery of all your problems. It's the American way folks.

    January 31, 2009 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  13. cnnnewser

    WHO CARES!!!

    January 31, 2009 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  14. tiff of Lithia Springs

    Why is this on the top priority of new in this country. Barack barely even knows this guy. They just happen to share a half set of genes not even a complete set.

    I would be concerned if this was the sister who was raised in the same household that her was raised in.

    January 31, 2009 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  15. Mike

    At first i thought "The kenian government is holding him ransom!", but after reading on BBC that it was just one (one!) joint they found on him i think this has nothing to do with them being brothers, just a stupid thing done by a young man. Who can ever forget Bill Clintons "i did not inhale" defense. Slap him on the wrist and let him go, he's no dealer, just a user of the softest of illegal drugs.

    January 31, 2009 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  16. Max

    Is this so important??

    January 31, 2009 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  17. Scott L

    You morons elected him into office, you deal with him now. America has lost all credibility on the world stage now that Iran is thumping their chests and we just sit on the sidelines. Obama is worse than Carter and Pelosi is pork barreling the heebie jeebies out of the American tax payer. Congratulations! Did you pay attention to the senate Dems that are now distancing themselves from the pork filled bill? Let's see how fast Obama throws Pelosi under the bus for this ridiculous bill that is fill with iron griddled pork.

    January 31, 2009 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  18. Luis from Maryland

    Who cares?

    January 31, 2009 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  19. Gretel

    Why is this news??? Pray tell, how many reporters on CNN who may have relatives who have used marijuana – I'm sure the answer is NOT zero. So what will be the next headline – "Obama's cousin takes an extra teaspoon of cough medicine to help her sleep at night?" By printing this story, the news media just proved how far one needs to go to get any kind of "dirt" on our president.

    January 31, 2009 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  20. Mari

    Oh...... my goodness. WHY is this a story on CNN? This man, George Obama, is hardly part of the Obama family. He only met his brother briefly.

    More drama created by the media.

    January 31, 2009 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  21. Erphan for LA

    President Obama barely knows this man and yet George Obama is being publicized. If he does Marajuana, then shame on him and if not I hope the Kenyan Government relieves him of his charges.

    January 31, 2009 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  22. eric in texas

    Good thing it isn't Bush's half brother. Or even McCain's half brother. If it were, I could hear the amount of bashing coming from the left. In this case, they will call it "worthless journalism"

    January 31, 2009 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  23. Florida Dude

    Not sure what this has to do with Obama. He barely knows his brother and his brother has said many times that he does not want help or pity. Leave him alone and let him find his way. It seems to me that the Kenyan government or police are trying to exploit him and the US media just plays along.

    January 31, 2009 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  24. Tom in Delaware

    Wha'da' know?!? That's what we call cannabis in this country too.

    Bhang...now you're a Liberal.

    January 31, 2009 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  25. Tim W

    But why is alcohol OK?

    January 31, 2009 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
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