Dreams from my father; A story of race and Inheritance is a book by Barrack Obama who is now the current president and commander in chief of the United States. The book was first published in the year 1995 at the time when Obama was just about to launch his political career for the Illinois senate seat. The timing of the book release was just right since Obama had just been elected the first African-American head of the Harvard Law review in the year 1990.The book was later re-published in the run to the America presidential race of 2004 when the then senator delivered a keynote address that propelled him into political stardom and endeared him to the voters aligned with the Democrat Party. From the book, it is clearly distinct that the author surmounts all odds and racial stereotypes that stand in his way in order to achieve his dreams.
The story kicks off with the sudden news of the death of Obamas father Barrack Obama Snr in 1982. The sad news is passed by by his Aunt Jane who makes a phone call from Nairobi to relay the tragic demise of the man who would later influence his life to a great deal. Obamas father was a Kenyan intellectual who left his motherland to search for greener pastures in the thriving Harvard school of economics. The Snr. Obama was a beneficiary of the airlifts of the visionary Kenyan leader Tom Mboya who organized scholarships for bright students. It is at Harvard that he met Barracks mum miss Ann Dunham originally from Kansas. The marriage however did not last long and personal differences led to the divorce of the two in the year 1964 a year later after their separation in 1963 (Obama, 9).
After their parents divorce his mother falls in love with an Indonesian man by the name of Lolo who convinces her to move back to the Asian nation with him. The family first moves to Jakarta but later Barrack returns to live with his grandparents. She leaves Barrack with his grandfather Stanley Armour Dunham whom, he fondly refers to as gramps and his grandmother Madelyn Payne Lee who he calls Toot throughout the narrative. During this time, he was filled with lots of thought about his father whom he had not met but had only heard lots of stories of him from the people that knew him. In the young boys mind, his father was the ultimate macho man, the great inspiring visionary whom he craved meeting. Like every young boy who has never met his father, he was extremely hopeful that one day he would meet his dad. The dream just like many more would come true when he visited during Christmas holidays. The senior Obama teaches Barrack how to dance and inspires him in his upcoming basketball passion by buying him basketballs. The stage of self-discovery starts with his father bringing him some African figurines(Obama, 39).
Barrack Obama Senior visits Obamas school and talks to the students there about Africa specifically his motherland of Kenya. He explains to the young minds about the ills and inner workings of colonialism and his life at Harvard. The most alluring thing about his father is his voice which he describes as deep and sure, cajoling and laughing. He then goes on to reveal how the man seemed inspiringly mysterious to him, a fact relayed by his words it fascinated me, this strange power of his. (Obama, 40).
The young Obama starts his own journey of self-discovery and from a tender age the negative effects of racism catch up with him. At school, whenever he speaks about his fathers origin among the Luo tribesmen of Kenya, some of the other students would make intimidating monkey noises. The result is that from a young age the lad figured out that he was of different racial origin and that some would treat him differently so (Elovitz,98). In order to avoid the torment and psychological trauma of racist remarks based on the colour of his skin, the young Obama passionately goes into basketball playing. He humorously explains that it was not really the abundance of talent but rather the intensity of his passion that drove him to the basketball courts. His words are a clear expression of this By the time I reached high school, I was playing on Punahous teams and could take my game to the university courts. (Obama,46).
Drugs also take a key part in the young boys life and he starts marijuana and dope use. In his very rich manner of expression the young man describes how he turned into the experimental marijuana user for enjoyment more so as a rebellious phase in his life. The main reason behind his behaviour is the fact that he was at an adolescent stage in his life and he wanted to show had thrown caution to the winds. He describes the scenario as I had learned not to care. I blew a few smoke rings, remembering those years. Pot had helped, and booze; maybe a little blow when you could afford it. Not smack, though-Mickey, my potential initiator had been just a little eager for me to go through with that. (Obama,53). He was also into cocaine use but he did not progress to heroin due to his disapproval of the would be dealer. At the stage of life, he was trying to make forget the questions that lingered in his mind and therefore get himself a new place of comfort and solace. The thought process in his head was a testament of the mindset of a young man struggling to find his place in a challenging world (Elovitz, 98).
The scene of the narrative changes to New York where Barrack moves to New York but he knows no one in the big city except a guy by the name of Sadik whom he calls up and ends up co-renting a flat (Obama,63). It gets to a point when he starts attaining the focus that would shape not only the course of his life but also propel him into achieving his dreams and aspirations. He exerted himself upon his studies and attains the state of focus that characterize the would be future politician and activist. At that time, he stopped the rebellious attitude and started running tracks for three miles a day and the zenith of this focus is regular religious fasting every Sunday (Elovitz, 98).
Soon thereafter we see the metamorphosis of the young man into an activist for the empowerment of the minority in society. He ventures into community organizing initiatives in order to bring about a change which segregated people are in dire need of; all fueled by his desire to make things better for them. His unyielding urge is portrayed by his words Thats what lll do, Ill organize black folks at the grassroots. For change. (Obama,73). It is clear that the resolute and sharp leader is breeding and growing right out of the wild young man. He takes up initiative and starts taking charge of the situations around him and engaging all those around him to make the difference he is so passionate about (Hammack,182-200). The aspiring young man hasnt yet revealed his political ambitions but it becomes clear that he is one to watch out for due to the way opportunities come his way in droves. Soon he catches the eye of prominent community work organizers such as Marty Kaufman. He engages them and is brought on board the Developing Communities Project. The group was charged with improving the lives of people living on the South Side of the City of Chicago affected by massive layoffs from nearby giant steel mills and neglect by large corporate employers. Here he earned his reputation as a front row defender of human rights by fighting for better playgrounds for children, better housing and job training CITATION Dre08 \l 1033 (Dreier).The dedication he brings to the initiative is so intense that the organizers such as his manager Marty who advises him to occasionally take a break and at least focus on other aspects of his social life.
At this time Obama starts getting in sync with the issue of his origin. Though raised American by every inch of the yardstick, he soon realizes that he has another side to his ancestry that is by far unexplored- his Kenyan roots. He accepts the fact that even though his father is already dead he still has a lot to learn about the man and get to know more about him. He actively engages his sister Auma who is studying in Germany after she just makes a call to him. Thereafter starts a long journey deep into his ancestral origins and he starts discovering about his family back in Africa. He explains this craving to be around his own people in words so thoughtful and philosophical yet poetic in the same breath Without power for the group, a group larger even than an extended family, our success always threatened to leave others behind. And perhaps it was that fact that left me so unsettled- the fact that even here in Africa, the same maddening patterns still held sway that no one could tell me what my blood ties demanded, or how these demands can be reconciled with some larger idea of human association. (Obama, 331). Here we see the young man try to find the source of his ancestry and map out his bloodline. The process is entirely natural as he seeks a sense of belonging, a real cultural group with which he can identify and trace other people who bear the same bloodline as he does(Hammack,182-206).
The young man soon learns of the things that were dear to his death father and it is at this point that the narrative earns its title. The story introduces are introduced into the mind of the young thrill seeking intellectual who later sired Barrack Hussein Obama. The Senior Obama is portrayed as a man who loved the finer things in life from his favorite cold bear in the hangout joints of Nairobi to his outgoing nature that earned him a reputation as a party animal. Nonetheless the man is still brought out as a clean-hearted man with the interests of the people at heart. The father appears as the man who aspired that his motherland and nation of Kenya would develop into a utopian state whereby the masses could enjoy the same standards of living as he had witnessed during his visits to developed nations. The elder Obama craved universal healthcare, quality education and protection of the people from exploitative practices by those in control of the economy and the political elite. The socialist mindset put him at odds with most of the young nations leaders who at the time were busy with accumulations of wealth and looting of public coffers. Even though he himself as a senior economic adviser to the government of Kenya was at a position of power, he did not strive to deprive the people of what was rightfully theirs. It is these values and aspirations that the younger Obama picked up and made his guiding policies (Hammack,182-206). The young man was in some way warming up to his fathers ideals and developing political ideologies that would propel him into active politics unlike his father who was mostly a technocrat in nature.
The aspect of transcendence of dreams across generations is made more prominent when Obama interacts with his grandmother and learns more about his paternal grandfather by the name of Hussein. As a young man his grandfather was drafted into the Kings African Rifles battalion of the British Army. He then realized that time had come for the Kenyan people to be liberated from British colonial rule and the yoke of Empire. He fought against his previous employers to the point of his detention in Zanzibar and subsequent torture that culminated in his permanent physical disability. Obama describes his appearance whilst coming from detention as narrated by his grandmother He had difficulty walking and his head was full of lice. He was so ashamed he refused to enter his house or tell us what had happened. (Obama,222). The reader is able to discern the suffering for the ideals the three men of the Obama lineage believed in- himself, his father and his grandfather Onyango. Each of them ultimately suffered a lot just because of what they believed in. Even though the grandfathers pain and torment was more severe in its physical manifestati...
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