US President Barack Obama embraces his half-sister, Auma Obama, upon his arrival at Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi. AFP PHOTO | SAUL LOEBUS President Barack Obama embraces his half-sister, Auma Obama, upon his arrival at Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi. AFP PHOTO | SAUL LOEB
By HILLARY KIMUYU

Dr Auma Obama, the older half-sister (by one year) of United States President Barack Obama clearly hogged the limelight on Friday night when the American head of state arrived in Nairobi.

Not that she wasn’t famous when she was warmly embraced by her brother while welcoming him to Kenya on Friday night when the President of United States touched down in his father’s homeland.

Auma first met face to face with her younger brother in 1984 when they were both in their 20s. The President later brought Auma to public attention when he wrote about her in his bestselling book, Dreams from My Father.

In a past interview Auma says that she knew she had a brother in America. Her father used to call him Barry, they all called him Barry, which he didn’t like, so they stopped calling him that. He made that clear right from the beginning that he’s Barack.

According Auma, their father and Obama’s mother were in touch, so she would send his school reports because their father was a very keen advocate of education. She would also send photos, so she (Auma) had photos of Barack.

“I felt a kinship with him automatically. I was very nervous and worried about not connecting immediately and then having to be in his home because I was going to be staying with him. But when I met him it was so easy. We just started talking as though we’d known each other always, and that was actually something really special,” Auma says.

NO HIDDEN AGENDA

She says that her brother is authentic and he really believes in what he is trying to do. So there’s no hidden agenda.

“In that sense, he really is an open book. And I think that authenticity, that passion, and the image and the drive it resonates with people.”

She says she’s grateful because she has all these doors that are being opened to her because she is his sister.

A young Barack Obama and his sister Auma Obama in a past photo.

A young Barack Obama and his sister Auma Obama in a past photo.

“I’m always aware of that and very conscious of the fact that that’s where this attention is coming from and I appreciate it. I always try to make it an opportunity to talk about my work, to open doors for other people,” Auma says.

She goes on to say that it’s not always that easy being the president’s sister.

“There are many moments when it’s challenging for me because I’m not used to it. There are many moments when it’s also sometimes a bit daunting.

“But his position has definitely given me a platform, and for the humanitarian work that I do, it’s a very necessary platform. I recognize that very few people get that kind of a platform coming from nowhere as I did. So I’m grateful for that.”