Obama’s African Relatives Think His Father Was Murdered.
(Oct. 18) — Perhaps the president can add this one to his list of myths to bust in December when he appears on the Discovery Channel show “MythBusters”: His father was not killed in a car accident in 1982, as was reported, but was murdered.
So goes a family theory investigated by Peter Firstbrook in his history of President Barack Obama’s African side of the family, “The Obamas,” and dissected by Obama biographer David Remnick in a post today on the New Yorker’s website.
Barack Obama Sr. was “a thwarted politician and bureaucrat,” outspoken in his criticism of the Kenyan government’s acceptance of corruption among its ranks, according to Remnick.
He was also a heavy drinker, nicknamed “Mr. Double-Double” after his usual Scotch orders. On the night of his death he was found inside his car, which had hit a tree.
Firstbrook talked to Charles Oluoch, a cousin of the president, who related the family’s suspicions. Obama Sr. had been in a number of accidents before and had survived them all. His body appeared to be fairly unharmed — no broken bones and only a small amount of blood.
“Although it looked like an accident, our family suspected that there must have been foul play. I am not a medical doctor, but the way we saw Barack lying there, he didn’t look like somebody who was involved in an accident,” Oluoch said.
Sarah Obama, the president’s step-grandmother, told the author a similar story.”We think there was foul play there, and that is how he died, and they covered it up [by saying] that he had an accident,” she said. “But we just had to leave it like that because the government then was very ruthless.”
Remnick talked to Caroline Elkins, a historian at Harvard, who said she doesn’t buy it. Obama Sr. was a “serious, fall-down alcoholic” and his family is probably trying to restore his reputation now that they have one of their own in White House, she said.
But as Firstbrook points out 25 years later, we will probably never know the truth …