Obama inspires brother to run for office in Kenya elections

Fri Jan 18, 2013 9:23am EST
 
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By Duncan Miriri

KOGELO, Kenya (Reuters) - U.S. President Barack Obama's message of hope and change has inspired his half-brother Malik to launch a political career of his own, with his eye on elections in Kenya in March.

"If my brother is doing great things for people in the United States, why can't I do great things for Kenyans here?" Malik Obama told Reuters in the village of Kogelo, President Obama's ancestral homeland.

Malik, 54, is running for governorship of the rural Siaya county as an independent candidate.

His sibling's message resonates with a Kenyan electorate angry over a political class widely regarded as greedy and corrupt.

However, the odds are stacked against lone candidates in a country where ideology is trumped by tribe or clan ties. This is the first time independents have been permitted to run in an election after a constitutional change in 2010.

For Obama, the inspiration comes from elsewhere.

"He is an inspiration to me and I feel that he is an embodiment of my father's dream," he said of the U.S. leader.

"All he told me is ‘brother, it is not an easy thing to get into public office. Just have a thick skin because people will be targeting you. The media will be saying this and that. There will be people who love you and people who won't love you'."   Continued...

 
Malik Obama, half-brother of U.S. President Barack Obama, speaks during an interview with Reuters on Obama's re-election as U.S. President in his ancestral home village of Nyangoma Kogelo, 430 km (367 miles) west of Kenya's capital Nairobi, November 7, 2012. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya