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News :: Human Rights
‘Am I my brother’s keeper?’ No he’s not. Sen. Obama’s brother, George, faces cholera, malaria every day, alone
by David James
01 Oct 2008
Barack Obama does not live by his own admonitions -- to be his brother's keeper. His own half-brother lives in squalor in a hovel in Nairobi, Kenya. Senator Obama does nothing to help the 26-year-old man, who lives a dissolute life, where his health and welfare are seriously threatened every day.
“That spirit of looking out for one another, that core value that says, ‘I am my brother’s keeper, I am my sister’s keeper,’ that spirit is most evident during times of great tragedy. It’s most evident during times of great hardship, it’s most when natural disasters strike. We all understand that we have to come together.”
– Sen. Barack Hussein Obama (D-Ill.) on the campaign trail, Sept. 2, 2008
Senator Barack Obama (D-Ill.) frequently claims on the hustings, as part of his campaign for the presidency, that he would like to usher in a new era of “change” where Americans would indeed be their “brother’s keeper.” But the multi-millionaire author of the best-seller Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance (Random House) does not live by his own professed ethos. His own half-brother lives in squalor in a hovel in Nairobi, Kenya. Senator Obama does nothing to help the 26-year-old man, who lives a dissolute life, where his health and welfare are seriously threatened every day.
The conditions his brother lives in are worse than those on the south side of Chicago, where Obama was a community agitator for the radical Saul Alinsky organization during the late 1980s. Much worse.
The Kenyan government has not lent a helping hand to Senator Obama’s younger brother, George, either, even though it professes to have a policy to help the poor and sick there.
Infection Protection & Control’s Nairobi, Kenya Correspondent David James interviewed George Obama, the presidential candidate’s brother, last week.
Here is his story:
George Hussein Obama, lives in a tiny single room in a sprawling ghetto in Nairobi, known as Huruma. When I visited, I noticed that his room stinks of a foul stench of alcohol, cigarettes, and marijuana smoke. The neighborhood is fetid and teeming with prostitutes. The most common food sold in the streets in this neighborhood is rotting fish. The fish is exposed to all sorts of infections; hordes of flies and other parasites are able to feed on it before it is sold to Obama and his neighbors. These living conditions put Obama’s brother in grave danger of contracting a host of deadly infections including: salmonella, listeria, malaria, HIV/AIDS, gonorrhea, syphilis and Chlamydia, asthma, and tuberculosis, Dr. Kimotho, a medical doctor in Kenya’s leading hospital, Nairobi Hospital, tells Infection Protection. The environment also is conducive to “cancer,” Dr. Kimotho says. Senator Obama’s brother languishes here, while senator Obama lives comfortably in a mansion in Chicago near the prestigious University of Chicago, and makes about $2 million annually from book royalty revenues and his $160,000 senate salary.According to George Obama, who shares the same biological father with Barack, and the same middle name, Hussein, and last name, Obama, he was born in this environment of depravation and ill-health, has never left it, and has “not received any help from my brother.”
Cases of cholera and typhoid have also sometimes been reported in George Obama’s neighborhood.
According to George Obama, he doesn’t “worry” much about his health. He really has little choice in the matter. He lives reclusively, and begs for money from journalists, who come to interview him. However, in a friendly, familial spirit, he supports his brother’s presidential ambitions and hopes to meet him soon.
During the interview with Infection Protection, the younger Obama sported a black baseball cap with the “Obama for president” logo.
Kenya’s Luo tribal community - Obama’s ancestral clan - is also excited about the presidential ambitions of Sen. Obama. Clan members who own taxis have festooned them with laudatory images of Sen. Obama, as if he is some sort of pagan god.
Obama’s brother is not the only member of his family who still lives in Africa. In rural Kisumu where senator Obama’s grandmother lives, the already-high rates of HIV/AIDS have recently increased. Diseases like cholera and typhoid have also been prevalent there.
I asked if Sen. Obama offers him financial assistance, but George confessed that “Obama has not offered me any financial help, nor my aunt who I live with.”
He is skeptical whether his multi-millionaire brother will rescue him from his current abject poverty. George lives next to a “twilight girls den,” a brothel, located in an area with poor drainage, and even worse sanitation.
Infection protection measures for these public health hazards should include: proper sanitation, proper food handling, public health education and legitimate housing, rather than the shanties that dot the streets.
No effective government measures have been implemented, however.
The Kenyan government issued a new policy to adopt male circumcision as a standard HIV prevention strategy, Kenya’s Nation newspaper reported just last spring. The Policy on Male Circumcision in Kenya 2008 calls for the procedure to be provided to all willing males. The decision to adopt circumcision as an HIV intervention follows reports showing that male circumcision can significantly lower risk for HIV, the Nation reports.
Kenyan health workers, meantime, are continuing to prescribe non-recommended antimalarial drugs that cause drug resistance because new prescribing policies have been poorly implemented, according to a recent study.
The study, led by Beatrice Wasunna – a researcher at the Kenya Medical Research Institute-Wellcome Trust Research Programme – was published in Malaria Journal in February of this year.
The Kenyan government introduced the WHO-recommended artemisinin based combination therapy (ACT) of artemether-lumefantrine (AL) for uncomplicated malaria treatment in 2006, after the malaria parasite was found to have developed resistance for the commonly used sulphur-based drugs.
Sen. Obama, during last week’s Clinton Global Initiative in New York City, offered yet more lofty rhetoric about health care. He promised that he would “eliminate” malaria from Africa by 2015. Many are skeptical this will happen due to the high rates of malaria infection throughout the continent.
Sen. Obama’s campaign, headquarted in Chicago, would not comment when asked, three times, for a quote for this story about his forsaken sibling by Infection Protection.
As Hillary Clinton said during the Democratic primaries this past year, Sen. Obama offers words, while others offer actions.
Though Sen. Obama promises “change,” we can probably expect more of the same characteristically evasive and elusive behavior from him for the rest of the campaign against Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), the Republican nominee for president.
As Obama himself has said, to him it is his beautiful words that matter most. “I want to wake up and know that every single American has health care when they need it, that every senior has prescription drugs they can afford, and that no parents are going to bed at night worrying about how they’ll afford medicine for a sick child. That’s the future we can build together. That’s the choice you’ll have this fall. And that’s why I’m running for President of the United States of America,” said Barack Obama, on the campaign trail on June 5, 2008, the very week he clinched the Democratic nomination for the presidency.
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