Barack Obama Snr: Drunk, bigamist and wife-beater
Barack Obama Snr started life with the advantage of being able to read and write, but he also felt a profound sense of injustice. His father was a cook for British settlers in Kenya, who demeaningly called him their 'personal boy'.
Grandfather Obama sent his son to a missionary school but after completing his education, the youth could find little work except goatherding in his remote village of Nyangoma Kogela, in the roadless hills of Western Kenya.
At 18, he married a girl called Kezia. But Obama Snr was more interested in politics and economics than his family and his political leanings had been brought to the notice of leaders of the Kenyan Independence movement.
He was put forward for an American-sponsored scholarship in economics, with the idea being that he would eventually use his Western-honed skills in the new Kenya. At the age of 23 he headed for university in Hawaii, leaving behind the pregnant Kezia and their baby son.
Relatives say he was already a slick womaniser and, once in Honolulu, he promptly persuaded a fellow student called Ann - a naive 18-year-old white girl - to marry him. Barack Jnr was born in August, 1961.
Two years later, Obama Snr was on the move again. He was accepted at Harvard, and left his little boy and wife behind when he moved to the exclusive east coast university.
At the time, Ann explained to their son that his father had gone because his meagre stipend would not support the family if they lived together. But finance was the least of her worries.
Mr Obama Jnr claims that racism on both sides of the family destroyed the marriage between his mother and father.
In his book, he says that Ann's mother, who went by the nickname Tut, did not want a black son-in-law, and Obama Snr's father 'didn't want the Obama blood sullied by a white woman'.
In fact Ann divorced her husband after she discovered his bigamous double life. She remarried and moved to Indonesia with young Barack and her new husband, an oil company manager.
Obama Snr was forced to return to Kenya, where he fathered two more children by Kezia. He was eventually hired as a top civil servant in the fledgling government of Jomo Kenyatta - and married yet again.
Now prosperous with a flashy car and good salary, his third wife was an American-born teacher called Ruth, whom he had met at Harvard while still legally married to both Kezia and Ann, and who followed him to Africa.
A relative of Mr Obama says: "We told him[Barack] how his father would still go to Kezia and it was during these visits that she became pregnant with two more children. He also had two children with Ruth."
It is alleged that Ruth finally left him after he repeatedly flew into whisky-fuelled rages, beating her brutally.
Friends say drinking blighted his life - he lost both his legs while driving under the influence and also lost his job.
However, this was no bar to his womanising: he sired a son, his eighth child, by yet another woman and continued to come home drunk.
He was about to marry her when he finally died in yet another drunken crash when Obama was 21.
Mr Obama's 40-year-old cousin Said Hussein Obama told The Mail on Sunday: "Clearly, Barack has been very deeply affected by what he has learned about his father, who was my father's older brother.
"You have to remember that his father was an African and in Africa, polygamy is part of life.
"We have assured Barack that his father was a loving person but at times it must be difficult for him to reconcile this with his father's drinking and simultaneous marriages."
Said adds: "His father was a human being and as such you can't say that he was 100 per cent perfect.
"My cousin found it difficult when he came here to learn of his half-brothers and sisters born to four different mothers.
"But just as Africans find the Western world strange so Americans coming here will find Africa strange."
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