Auma Obama, the older half-sister of President Barack Obama, has joined her brother’s ranks as an author. Her memoir, “And Then Life Happens” (translated by Ross Benjamin, St Martin’s Press, $25.99), is a moving account of her life in Africa and Europe, along with her relationship with her now-famous relative.
While the younger Obama grew up in the U.S. and Indonesia, Auma Obama’s childhood played out at the other side of the world in a remote village in Kenya, the birthplace of the siblings’ shared father. They met for the first time in the 1980s, and built a lasting relationship which led to travels together in Kenya, research into their family history and finally Obama’s support for her brother’s political career and eventual bid for the U.S. presidency. Of their first encounter, the president said: “I hugged her, we looked at each other, and laughed. I knew right then that I loved her.”
Auma Obama was born in 1960 in the town of Kogelo in Kenya right after the country gained its independence. She grew up first with her mother and paternal grandparents, and later with her (and President Obama’s) father and American stepmother. She studied German at the University of Heidelberg from 1981 to 1987. After her graduation in Heidelberg she went on for graduate studies at the University of Bayreuth, which awarded her a Ph.D. in 1996. Auma spent 16 years studying and living in Germany, moved to England for love and gave birth to a daughter there. The tension between her original and chosen worlds and cultures was a constant challenge, and eventually she returned to Africa and worked to support young men and women in shaping their futures. She now works in Nairobi for CARE International, an organization specializing in educational projects worldwide.
“And Then Life Happens” is another candid and emotional offering from the extended Obama family that futhers the public’s understanding of the president.