From Nairobi to Shenzhen
Mark Obama Ndesandjo is one of the President’s younger brothers. A very interesting man who looks very much like his older brother. They both have white mothers who were married to Barack Obama Sr. and both have written semi-autobiographical novels which have their father as a pivotal character in their lives.
But that’s were the similarities end. Unlike Barack, Mark was born in Kenya and lived with both of his parents – until his mother divorced his father because he was emotionally and physically abusive.
In the 255-page novel, self-published through Aventine Press, Ndesandjo’s character is called David. The author depicts his Kenyan father as an abusive alcoholic who beats David and his mother.
“My mother used to say of my father, he’s a brilliant man but a social failure,” Ndesandjo told reporters. “I remember times in my house when I would hear screams and I would hear my mother’s pain.” “The relationship I had with my father was a difficult one,” he says. I didn’t have positive memories of my dad because of domestic violence.”
It also must have been very difficult for Mark and his mother, who are Jewish, to live with Barack Obama Sr.’s family, who are Muslim. See Aug. 25, 2009 entry.
After finishing high school in Nairobi, Mark, an American citizen, moved to the United States where he earned physics degrees at Brown University and Stanford.
The two brothers, who have met a handful of times in their lives, the last of which was on January 20, 2009 at Obama’s inauguration in Washington. Their first meeting was in Kenya. When Mark came to the U.S. to go to college, one wonders why the older brother, Obama, didn’t want to take his little brother under his wing.
With a Master’s Degree in physics from Stanford, Mark went to work in the telecom industry. After getting laid off from Nortel in 2001, the telecom marketing executive, who was fluent in Mandarin, moved to China. Mark decided to try his hand at setting up websites for Chinese companies who wanted to do business with the U.S. In addition to the website consulting firm, Mark and his friend, Sui, opened a barbecue joint called Cabin BBQ in Shenzhen.
Cabin BBQ now has seven branches, including one in Yingchuan in the northwest of China. They are also planning on entering the Kenyan market with their next Cabin BBQ. Sui said, “From a simple joke out of desperation to a viable business, we feel like we’re in a dream!” Thanks to the opening of their first Cabin BBQ, which became a very successful, profitable business, they were able to pay themselves a salary while covering the overhead of the consulting firm, which is still not profitable.
In his spare time, Mark teaches piano at an an orphanage and studies Chinese brush painting. He and his wife live in Guangzhou.
Here’s a recent CNN video of Obama talking about meeting up with Mark in China.