Report & Essay

Obama, My Uncle.
Samuel Munene

 It is amazing how easy it is for us to judge people by first appearances. We look at what they wear, what they drive or even how they smile and make instant conclusions. Perhaps we have so much in our minds, leaving us no room to dig deeper before making any assumptions.

Hand in hand with this is the distrust we have cultivated between us. The very first minutes of any conversation are filled with suspicion, doubting every word being said. It is as if the truth no longer exists. This is not surprising considering most of us are dishonest and think everybody is the same. There are some of us, however, who still treat the truth as a virtue, and dare not tell a lie.

Take me for instance. If I told you that I am Obama’s nephew you would surely not believe me, but that is the truth. Barrack Obama, the US Democratic presidential nominee is my uncle, my maternal uncle. I won’t waste time telling you how I dug up my family history and discovered one of Obama’s great grandfathers had an affair with one of my grandmothers, that is too rudimentary a method to prove my linkage to Obama.

I will use science and in particular genetics. Those who know me well will agree that I share, with Obama, one of his very unique and astonishing traits, indeed the trait that won him the votes. I am talking about the Look Off Into The Future Pose. You know how Obama talks, he says something like “ America needs change we can believe in” then keeps quiet for some time, looks at the crowd, his gaze transfixed at some point, then slightly raises his head, before looking to the left, and the crowd after a second or two bursts in applause. That is the Look Off Into The Future Pose .It is not by coincidence that I have a similar pose, its in the genes. Or how else do you explain the fact I bend my head at the same angle as Obama? And that I have the same hypnotizing effect on crowds?

Not long ago, a think tank, which of course doesn’t wish my uncle well, was claiming that he practices this “Look Off Into The Future Pose”. Listen to what they were saying. “Obama practices the Look Off Into Future Pose. It involves him standing upright with his back arched and his chest thrust out, his shoulders positioned 1.3 feet apart and opened slightly at a 14-degree angle, and his eyes transfixed on a predetermined point between 20 and 27 meters away. This creates the illusion that Obama is looking forward to a bright future, while the downturned corners of his lips indicate that he acknowledges the problems of the present.
If he looks up an inch too high, he appears aloof or confused. If he looks down too low, it appears that he is distracted by the future. If the curvature of his upper lip is not at the exact 0.87-centimeter radius, it reads that he does not care about preserving the environment for future generations.

The pose also requires Obama to arch his eyebrows at 32-degree angles, open his mouth to prevent the misconception that he is frowning about the future, and briefly flare his nostrils to convey faith in the nation’s children.
He must then clench his jaw with enough force to express strength and decisiveness—if he uses too much force, his forehead vein becomes visible and makes it appear as though he is in physical pain, doubtful of the future. Every millimeter of that head vein costs him 150,000 votes.
When looking to the future, he looks to the left; Looking to the right is an I-am-sorry-for-the-mistakes-I’ve-made-in-the-past-but-promise-to-work-my-hardest-for- this-nation-from-now-on pose. “
Certainly all this is true expect the claim that he practices the look. The think tank evidently doesn’t know of my existence, for if it did, it would be obvious to them that’s its not possible for two completely different people to practice this pose, down to the last degree & millimeter. The pose is in the genes.

That proved I wonder why no media organization has been seeking to interview me, yet I am the only of Obama’s relatives who is almost, if not exactly like him. I mean the only one with his kind of brain, character and most important, Look Off Into The Future Pose.

All the media does, is talk to so called scholars of the US political space, who discuss such serious topics as “Obamania : Is Africa The Next Illinois” or “ Obama Win: The Kogelo White House”

The other day one of these scholars, a distinguished professor and an authority on the new field of “ Obama-nism and Black Expression” , was on national television betting his balls that if Obama wins the elections the F word in hip hop, and generally in black lingua would be replaced with the word “Change”. Isn’t that ridiculous? For a start its bad English and doesn’t have the same semantic punch. Just think of the once in a week times when your boss pisses you and you end up using the F word to curse her. Now replace the F with the word “change”, it surely doesn’t have the same effect, it’s simply too polite. A more practical prediction would have been to suggest that if Obama wins the F word would be replaced by its Luo equivalent, those who know the Luo word will agree it would be a masterpiece, both when used semantically and as a curse.

Talking of the latter I know there are many people falling head over heels to honor my uncle. Some of them are doing this by naming their animals, and especially cattle, after him. This is not only an insult but in bad taste. What legacy will a cow leave? Shitting and providing manure or farting carbon monoxide and polluting the environment? Should my uncle, who is campaigning on a green platform, be associated with such?..A more respectable way to honor my uncle would be to name your children after him. You surely can’t compare human beings, however evil they may eventually become, with animals. There are those who may argue that you need to plan for children, and unless you had seen his victory coming, and taken the right measures, you don’t have a ready child who can be named, after him. But there is still time and opportunity. We are in June, if you stick long enough in the bedroom with your partner, come February next year you will be a proud parent of a newborn, who you will name Obama,there will be no better way to celebrate my uncle’s second month in office. And yes Obama is a unisexual name.

Now that uncle has won the nomination, he is surely going to ask my guidance on the best way to conduct the remainder of the campaigns and the first few months in office. What follows is a draft of the email, with my advice, that I plan to send him.

Dear uncle,

Let’s not waste time and go directly to business. Below are some of the issues you should think about:


I hear that seven out of ten Americans say they want their president to have a strong faith. And here too we like to have our leaders attend Sunday service .So its time you joined another church, now that you disowned Reverend Wright’s Trinity United Church. You can’t trust those American churches, just see how close Wright was to bringing you down or what uproar John Hagee generated by endorsing McCain. Something must be amiss with those American pastors. Why not join a Kenyan church? I know someone may have told you that most of our churches are places of raising money than of worship. But there are some pure churches, undiluted by worldly pleasures and pursuits. You could join one of these. I suggest you join Dini ya Msambwa because its near your grandmothers home.I am sure the Democrats can afford to fly you to western Kenya every week for spiritual nourishment.Here you will rest assured that Mzee Namasaka Barasa, the senior pastor will not utter anything that will hurt your campaign. He doesn’t speak English.


Perhaps due to their state of insecurity, Americans want to have a brave president. That is why McCain won’t waste a chance to say he is a decorated war veteran, and Hilary Clinton claimed, wrongly, she dodged sniper fire in Bosnia. What about you uncle? Is there anything that shows you are a daring man? You told us that you used to smoke marijuana when you could afford it and Aunt Michelle told to us you snore and throw your socks on the floor. Unfortunately, uncle, that’s creates the illusion that you are a sissy. And no one wants a sissy for a president. Try think of something that will show you are tough. If you cant think of anything start by claiming you survived driving on Kenyan roads…if that doesn’t work you could say that you were tested for HIV at a rural clinic in Kenya, where there is no electricity, water… blah blah blah.You know what those working class voters think of Africa? Seize on that to show your heroism. As Hilary would say these “hardworking Americans, white Americans” might warm up to you.


The American flag is associated with Republicans, whenever people see the flag they see George Bush, they see Dick Cheney, they see Condoleezza Rice, they see war and destruction…You have to modify this flag to reflect your message of “change we can believe in” .The most acceptable way to do it is to merge the American and Kenyan flags .The new flag would be a symbol of the might of the US and tameness of Africa.The only thing necessary would be to give the colors of the flag new meaning.

Both flags have the color red and the new flag must have it. Red certainly represents blood. In the new spirit of a harmonious humanity, the red in the new flag should not represent the blood shed by our respective freedom fighters. That would raise emotions. Instead it should represent the blood shed by our ancestors, Australopithecus, who fought dinosaurs and ensured the survival of humanity. Just don’t forget Kenya was the cradle of man.

Since America is not an agricultural nation the green on our flag, which certainly will be on the new one, will represent the mobile phone network that makes it possible for bilateral communication cooperation between the US and Africa. Not to mention free calls for your relatives.

The meaning of white will be obvious: The purity of Dini ya Msambawa.This will encourage more of your country men to join the church, and you won’t be the only one in the congregation who doesn’t understand a thing being said by the pastor

Black will be for doom. What will happen if you don’t fulfill our expectations? And here Kenya’s and Africa expectations. As for the Americans they will merely vote you out if you don’t fulfill your promises to them.

The navy blue from your present flag will represent the US Democratic Party, and our Party of National Unity. Too bad there is no orange.

The stars on your flag represent Americas 50 states. Here we don’t have states but 42 tribes, so the stars should be increased to 92

And do please give Michael a call. I need come see you and the staffs at the embassy have denied me a visa. They are treating me like any other Kenyan. They don’t know I am your nephew; the only of your relatives with the Look Off Into The Future pose.

(Samuel Munene contributes to Kwani? He first read this piece during the Sunday Salon in June.)

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