Posted by PrestoPundit on 10/23/2008


The “Rosebud” of Barack Obama’s memoir — Dreams From My Father:  A Story of Race and Inheritance.
Obama on Socialism.jpg
There’s a big mystery at the heart of Barack Obama’s Dreams From My Father:  A Story of Race and Inheritance.
What was Barack Obama doing seeking out Marxist professors in college?
Why did Obama choose a Communist Party USA member as his socio-
political counselor in high school?  Why was he spending his time
studying neocolonialism and the writings of Frantz Fanon, the
pro-violence author of “the Communist Manifesto of neocolonialsm”, in
college?  Why did he take time out from his studies at Columbia to
attend socialist conferences at Cooper Union?

And there is more
mystery in the book.  Why does Obama consider working in a consulting
house for international business like being “a spy behind enemy
lines?”  Why does he repeatedly find it so hard to explain his
political views to others?  Why was he driven to become a
left-aligned political organizer?  It’s a question Obama again and
again can’t seem to answer to the satisfaction of the interlocutors in
his own memoir.

If there is a mystery at the heart of Barack Obama’s Dreams From My Father,
one thing is not left a mystery, the fact that Barack Obama organized
his life on the ideals given to him by his Kenyan father.  Obama tells
us, “All of my life, I carried a single image of my father, one that I
.. tried to take as my own.” (p. 220)   And what was that image?  It
was “the father of my dreams, the man in my mother’s stories, full of
high-blown ideals ..” (p. 278)  What is more, Obama tells us that, “It
was into my father’s image .. that I’d packed all the attributes I
sought in myself.”  And also that, “I did feel that there was something
to prove .. to my father” in his efforts at political organizing. (p.

we know that his father’s ideals were a driving force in his life, but
the one thing that Obama does not give us are the contents of those
ideals.  The closest he comes is when he tells us that his father lost
his position in the government when he came into conflict with Jomo
Kenyatte, the President of Kenya sometime in the mid 1960s; when he
tells us that his father was imprisoned for his political views by the
government just prior to the end of colonial rule; and when he tells us
that the attributes of W. E. B. DuBois, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King,
and Nelson Mandela were the ones he associated with his father and also
the ones that he sought to instill in himself.  (p. 220)  This last
group is a hodge podge, perhaps concealing as much as it reveals, in
that it contains a socialist black nationalist, a Muslim black
nationalist, a civil rights leader, and (at the time indicated in the
memoir) an imprisoned armed revolutionary.

A bit of research at
the library reveals the answers about Barack Obama’s father and his
father’s convictions which Obama withholds from his readers.  A first
hint comes from authors E. S. Atieno Odhiambo and David William Cohen
in their book The Risks of Knowledge
(Ohio U. Press, 2004).  On page 182 of their book they describe how
Barack Obama’s father, a Harvard trained economist, attacked the
economic proposals of pro-Western ‘third way” leader Tom Mboya from the
socialist left, siding with communist-allied leader Oginga Odinga, in a
paper Barack Obama’s father wrote for the East Africa Journal.  As Odhiambo and Cohen write, “The
debates [over economic policy] pitted .. Mboya against
.. Oginga Odinga and radical economists
Dharam Ghai and Barrack Obama, who critiqued the document for being
neither African nor
socialist enough.”

have a copy of Barack Obama’s paper here in my hand, obtained from the
stacks at UCLA (see the picture above).  The paper is as describe by
Odhiambo and Cohen, a cutting attack from the left on Tom Mboya’s historically important policy paper
“African Socialism and Its Applicability to Planning in Kenya.”  The
author is given as “Barak H. Obama” and his paper is titled “Problems
Facing Our Socialism”, published July, 1965 in the East African Journal, pp. 26-33.  [UPDATE:  I sent Politico a copy, and they’ve posted a PDF file of the paper here.]

stakes out the following positions in his attacks on the white paper
produced by Mboya’s Ministry of Economic Planning and Development:

Obama advocated the communal ownership of land and the forced
confiscation of privately controlled land, as part of a forced
“development plan”, an important element of his attack on the
government’s advocacy of private ownership, land titles, and property
registration. (p. 29)

2.  Obama advocated the nationalization of
“European” and “Asian” owned enterprises, including hotels, with the
control of these operations handed over to the “indigenous” black
population. (pp. 32 -33)

3.  Obama advocated dramatically
increasing taxation on “the rich” even up to the 100% level, arguing
that, “there is no limit to taxation if the benefits derived from
public services by society measure up to the cost in taxation which
they have to pay” (p. 30) and that, “Theoretically, there is nothing
that can stop the government from taxing 100% of income so long as the
people get benefits from the government commensurate with their income
which is taxed.” (p. 31)

4.  Obama contrasts the ill-defined and
weak-tea notion of “African Socialism” negatively with the well-defined
ideology of “scientific socialism”, i.e. communism.  Obama views
“African Socialism” pioneers like Nkrumah, Nyerere, and Toure as having diverted only “a little” from the capitalist system. (p. 26)

Obama advocates an “active” rather than a “passive” program to achieve
a classless society through the removal of economic disparities between
black Africans and Asian and Europeans. (p. 28)  “While we welcome the
idea of a prevention [of class problems], we should try to cure what
has slipped in .. we .. need to eliminate power structures that have
been built through excessive accumulation so that not only a few
individuals shall control a vast magnitude of resources as is the case
now .. so long as we maintain free enterprise one cannot deny that some
will accumulate more than others .. ”  (pp. 29-30)

6.  Obama
advocates price controls on hotels and the tourist industry, so that
the middle class and not only the rich can afford to come to Kenya as
tourists.  (p. 33)

7.  Obama advocates government owned and
operated “model farms” as a means of teaching modern farming techniques
to farmers.  (p. 33)

8.  Obama strongly supports the governments
assertion of a “non-aligned” status in the contest between Western
nations and communist nations aligned with the Soviet Union and China.
(p. 26)

So what does all this tell us about Barack Obama, the
father, and how does it help us fill in the gaps and decipher Barack
Obama’s Dreams From My Father?  We know from Obama’s memoir
that his father is an “uncompromising” man whose ideals and principles
gets him in trouble with the “big man” who ran Kenya, Jomo Kenyatta,
leading to a dramatic scene in which Kenyatta personally confronts
Obama the father and in one fell swoop destroys not only his government
career but ultimately his life.  Working with Obama’s book alone it is
hard to know what is going on.  We get only an inkling when Obama
quotes his “Granny” (one of Obama the elder’s wives) as saying the
“I would tell him he was too stubborn in his dealings with the
government.  He would talk to me of his principle .. ”  (p. 424)

if we fill in the missing information we have now learned about Barack
Obama the elder — that he held uncompromising socialist and
anti-Western views in line with Kenyatta’s principle political rival
Oginga Odinga — we can understand why he had conflicts of “principle”
with Kenyatta and government.  And the timeline begins to make sense.
TIME magazine reports the open conflict between the anti-communist,
pro-Western Kenyatta and the communist-allied, anti-Western Odinga in a story from June, 1965, a story in which Odinga declares “communism is like food to me.”  By 1966 Odinga was out of the government.  In Obama’s Dream From My Father these political events and their consequences for Barack Obama the elder are described in the voice of his sister Auma:

Old Man [Obama], he left the American company to work in the
government, for the Ministry of Tourism.  He may have had political
ambitions, and at first he was doing well in the government.  But by
1966 or 1967, the divisions in Kenya had become more serious.
President Kenyatta was from the largest tribe, the Kikuyus .. The
vice-president, Odinga, was a Luo [as was Obama], and he said the
government was becoming corrupt.  That, instead of serving those who
had fought for independence, Kenyan politicians had take the place of
white colonials, buying businesses and land that should be
redistributed to the people.  Odinga tried to start his own party, but
was placed under house arrest as a Communist.  Another popular Luo
minister, Tom M’boya, was killed by a Kikuyu gunman.  Luos began to
protest in the streets, and the government police cracked down ..

of the Old Man’s friends just kept quiet and learned to live with the
situation.  But the Old Man began to speak up.  He would tell people
that tribalism was going to ruin the country and that unqualified men
were taking the best jobs.  His friends tried to warn him about saying
such things in public, but he didn’t care.  He always thought he know
what was best, you see.  When he was passed up for a promotion, he
complained loudly.  ‘How can you be my senior,’ he would say to one of
the ministers, ‘and yet I am teaching you how to do your job
properly?’  Word got back to Kenyatta that the Old Man was a
troublemaker, and he was called in to see the president .. Kenyatta
said to the Old Man that, because he could not keep his mouth shut, he
would not work again until he had no shoes on his feet.

I don’t
know how much of these details are true.  But I know that with the
president as an enemy things became very bad for the Old Man.  He was
banished from the government — blacklisted.  None of the ministries
would give him work.  When he went to foreign companies to look for a
post, the companies were warned not to hire him .. Finally, he had to
accept a small job with the Water Department.”

are a couple of false notes in this account.  To begin with, Barack
Obama the father didn’t “begin” to speak up. Obama was challenging the
policies of Kenyatta’s government from the left in the most prestigious
forum possible, the East Africa Journal, at exactly the same moment
when Vice President Odinga was challenging the Kenyatta government from
the left.  What is more, Obama did so in openly arrogant and
condescending fashion, almost as if saying to Kenyatta and his
government, ‘How can you [be in charge of the economy], when I am
teaching you how to do your job properly?”  The last lines of Obama’s
EAJ paper capture the tone of the whole,

my remarks, it is laudable that the government came out with the
paper.  But this is not to deny that fact that it could have been a
better paper if the government were to look into priorities and see
them clearly within their context so that their implementation could
have had a basis on which to rely.  Maybe it is better to have
something perfunctorily done than none at all!”


“Marxist professors” — see page 100 of Dreams From My Father.

“a Communist Party USA member as his socio- political counselor” — the character “Frank” in Dreams For My Father is the communist poet Frank Marshall Davis.

“Frantz Fanon” — see page 100 of Dreams From My Father.

“attend socialist conferences” — see page 122 of Dreams From My Father.

SELECTIONS from the paper “Problems Facing Our Socialism” by Barack Obama, Sr.:


Paper No. 10] goes into use and control of resources.  The first
statement concerns conflict of opinion on attitude toward land
ownership.  It is true that in most African societies the individual
had sole right as to the use of land and proceeds from it.  He did,
however, own it only as a trustee to the clan, tribe or society.  He
could give it on loan to someone outside the tribe to use, but he had
no right to sell it outside the tribe .. How then can there be a
conflict of opinion on communal ownership?  ..

It is
surprising that one of the best African traditions [the communal
ownership of land] is not only being put aside in this paper [in favor
of private ownership] but even the principle is not being recognized
and enhanced .. we can avoid economic power concentration and bring
standardized use and control of resources through public ownership, let
alone the equitable distribution of economic gains that follow ..

[land consolidation] be easily done through individual action, through
co-operatives or through government ownership?  Realizing social
stickiness and inflexibility and looking at the society’s distrust of
change, one would see that, if left to the individual, consolidation
will take a long time to come.  We have to look at priorities tin terms
of what is good for society and on this basis we may find it necessary
to force people to do things they would not do otherwise.

it not seem, then, the government could bring more rapid consolidation
through clan co-operatives?  Individual initiative is not usually the
best method of bringing land reform.  Since proper land use and control
is very important if we are going to overcome the dual [rich Indian
& European vs. poor black African class] character of our economy
and thereby increase productivity, the government should take a
positive stand and, if need be, force people to consolidate through the
easiest way, which, I think, would be through clan co-operatives rather
than through individual initiative.”


“If one says that the
African society was classless as the paper says, what is there to stop
it from being a class society as time goes on?  Is what has been said
in the paper, if implemented, enough to eschew this danger?  .. The
question is how are we going to remove the disparities in our country
such as the concentration of economic power in Asian and European hands
while not destroying what haws already been achieved and at the same
time assimilating these groups to build one country?

.. On class
problems, the paper states that since there was not such a thing in
Africa, the problem is that of prevention.  This is to ignore the truth
of the matter. One wonders whether the authors of the paper have not
noticed that a discernible class structure has emerged in Africa and
particularly in Kenya.  While we welcome the idea of prevention, we
should also try to cure what has slipped in.

The elimination of
foreign economic and political domination is a good gesture towards
this, so are plans to develop in order to prevent antagonistic
classes.  But we also need to  eliminate power structures that have
been built through excessive accumulation so that not only a few
individuals shall control a vast magnitude of resources as is the case
now.  It is a case of cure and prevention and not prevention alone.”


is a statement made on nationalization [in Sessional Paper No. 10].
True there are cases in which nationalization is bad, but there are,
likewise, quite a few benefits to be derived from it.  On this subject
I would like to refer the authors to Prof. Bronferbrenner’s
[sic] work on the “Appeals for confiscation in Economic Development”*
[sic — the referenced article is titled “The Appeal of Confiscation in Economic
Development”].  Nationalization should not be looked at only in terms
of profitability alone, but also, or even more, on the benefit to
society that such services render and on its importance in terms of
public interest ..”

*Econ. Development and Cultural Change — Vol III, No. 3, 1955 pp. 201-18


is also a statement that nationalization will apply to African
enterprise.  How can we talk of nationalizing African enterprise when
such enterprises do not exit?  If we are going to nationalize, we are
going to nationalize what exists and is worth nationalizing.  But these
are European and Asian enterprises.

One need not be a Kenyan to
note that nearly all commercial enterprises from small shops in River
Road to big shops in Government Road and that industries in the
Industrial Areas of Nairobi are mostly owned by Asians and Europeans.
One need not be a Kenyan to note that when one goes to a good
restraurant he mostly finds Asians and Europeans, nor has he to be a
Kenyan to see that the majority of cars running in Kenya are run by
Asians and Europeans.  How then can we say that we are going to to be
indiscriminate in rectifying these imbalances?  We have to give the
African his place in his own country and we have to give him this
economic power if he is going to develop.  The paper talks of fear of
retarding growth if nationalization or purchases of these enterprises
are made for Africans.  But for whom doe we want to grow?  Is it the
African who owns this country?  If he does, then why should he not
control the economic means of growth in this country?

It is
mainly in this country that one finds almost everything owned by the
non-indigenous populace.  The government must do something about this
and soon.”


“Theoretically, there is nothing that can stop the
government from taxing 100 per cent of income so long as the people
benefits from the government commensurate with their income which is


paper wishes to encourage domestic accumulation.  This is a good
gesture except for the underlying assumption which one only reads
between the lines, that it is individual private enterprise and
business that tends to encourage accumulation.  True, in the paper
there is a realization that taxation can be used as a means of forced
saving, but it is given a secondary place in this respect.  Certainly
there is no limit to taxation if the benefits derived from public
services by society measure up to the cost in taxation which they have
to pay.  It is a fallacy to say that there is a limit and it is a
fallacy to rely mainly on the individual free enterprise to get the
savings.  Who are we going to rid ourselves of economic power
concentration when we, in our blueprint, tend towards what we ourselves
discredit?  In paragraph 47 the paper state that the company form of
business organization is a departure from the direct individual
ownership typical in Marx’s day.  Yet one who has read Marx cannot fail
to see that corporations are not only what Marx referred to as the
advanced stage of capitalism but Marx even called it finance capitalism
by which a few would control the finances of so many and through this
have not only economic power but political power as well.”


is a tautology to say that we want to be independent of other countries
since every country has always wished this.  It would have been more
important to talk of how we intend to break our dependence on other
countries politically and economically, since this is fait accompli.
It may be true that this is still the case because of our lack of basic
resources and skilled manpower, yet one can choose to develop by the
bootstraps rather than become a pawn to some foreign powers such as Sekou Toure did.  While the statement of the policy of non-alignment is good and encouraging, one would wish to see it put into practice.”

[Note:  At the time Obama’s article was written Guinea President Sekou Toure was accepting aid from the United States and acceding to many of its foreign policy demands, after an earlier period when Toure had accepted aid from the Soviets
and the Soviet block.  Relations between Toure and Moscow had cooled
after Toure accused the Soviets of helping to plot the overthrow of his


  1. Hyscience said

    Is Barack Obama not Barack Obama?

    Did the communist background of Barack Hussein Obama just get even more bizarre than we’ve learned up to now – as Yid with Lid predicted? Heck, it almost doesn’t matter “which father was his father” since his Kenyan father was just as much a communist …

  2. […] We actually have a fairly good idea of what Barack Sr., a scholar both brilliant (he graduated summa cum laude from the U. of Hawaii in three years) and boastful, likely told Ann about politics and economics between the time he impregnated her when she was a 17-year-old coed and the time he left her when she was 20-year-old mother. Barack Sr. published in July 1965 a 5,400-word article called “Problems Facing Our Socialism” in the East African Journal, which was dug up in the UCLA library by Greg Ransom of PrestoPundit in 2008. […]

  3. […] the father’s far, far-left politics as revealed in a 1965 article written by Barack Obama Sr. here (Ransom’s work was originally published in April 2008). Nobody has ever meaningfully refuted […]

  4. jpeditor said

    Can you fix the title? It currently reads “BARACK OBAMA HID HIS FATHER’S SOCIALIST”

    and I think you meant to have “PAST” or “BACKGROUND” or something other than how it is now…

  5. […] same way Zimbabwe did. Once upon a time Rhodesia Zimbabwe was the Breadbasket of Africa. Mugabe, who is a big fan of Barack Obama Sr.’s communist policies, turned the Breadbasket of Africa into the Basketcase of Africa. Zimbabwe used to export food, now […]

  6. Good way of explaining, and nice post to obtain data about my presentation focus, which
    i am going to convey in university.

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