Academic journal article The Journal of Pan African Studies (Online)

An Obama Journey: An Interview with Mark Obama Ndesandjo

Academic journal article The Journal of Pan African Studies (Online)

An Obama Journey: An Interview with Mark Obama Ndesandjo

Article excerpt

Kam Williams is a syndicated film and book critic who writes for 100+ publications around the world. He was voted Most Outstanding Journalist of the Decade by the Disilgold Soul Literary Review in 2008, and he is a member of the New York Film Critics Online, the NAACP Image Awards Nominating Committee and Rotten Tomatoes. He has a B.A. in Africana Studies from Cornell University, a M.A. in English from Brown University, a M B A. from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, and a J.D. from Boston University. He lives in Princeton, NJ with his wife and son.

Mark Obama Ndesandjo (at the left) was born in Kenya in 1965 to Ruth Baker and Barack Obama, Sr., he is an accomplished musician, author, artist and businessman. Prior to settling in Shenzhen, China, he earned a B.S. in Physics from Brown University, a M S. in Physics from Stanford University, and a MBA. from Emory University. A halfbrother of President Obama, Mark consults worldwide, employing his considerable telecommunications, international marketing and branding experience gained as a senior manager at Lucent, Nortel and other companies. He is also fluent in Mandarin, both as a speaker and as a writer, and he's an avid brush calligrapher, too. As an author, he has published the novel, ""Nairobi to Shenzhen," as well as an intriguing autobiography, "An Obama's Journey" Musically, he's released 3 piano CDs, "The Untimely Ones," "Night Moods" and his own composition "Reflections on William Blake." He regularly gives piano lessons to orphans in and around the city of Shenzhen, and he was appointed Volunteer Image Ambassador and Special Olympics Image Ambassador by China. Furthermore, he founded the Mark Obama Ndesandjo Foundation, Ltd for cultural exchange, whose goal is to bring art to disadvantaged children and youth.

Kam Williams: Hi, Mark. Thanks for the interview.

Mark Obama Ndesandjo: No, I am actually very honored, and I'm glad we finally linked up. It's been months, hasn't it? [Laughs]

KW: Yeah, the 12-hour time difference can make it a little hard to connect by phone. I already know that from writing for some Asian outlets.

MON: That's right. You're truly a global person in many ways. I've read your interviews. You've touched base with so many interesting people from all over.

KW: Including your sister, Maya, who touched me at the end of my interview with her, when she said, "I won't forget you and I would love to meet you someday."

MON: That's great! The art of the interview includes understanding yourself, and if one is trying to be thoughtful, it's a way in which one can see parts of yourself that perhaps weren't so clear before. So, you have a very important tool, and I can understand what Maya meant.

KW: Did you know that I also went to Brown and lived in the Grad Towers while I was there.

MON: Omigosh! Another Thayer Street refugee. [LOL] What a small world it is, Kam.

KW: I found "An Obama's Journey" fascinating.

MON: Thank you. It was a very difficult book to write.

KW: I can imagine. It's so revealing emotionally. Plus, you had to deal with the burden of your brother's being in the public eye.

MON: I'm so glad you liked it. Writing a book, you have to reach very deep inside of yourself to share a message that will touch the readers. Otherwise, people will know, and it won't connect.

KW: Some of what you wrote about Barack, like how, for political reasons, he lied to the press about when he first met you, was very revealing.

MON: One of the focuses was just to share some of the important facts that have shaped lives in our country and in individuals in my family. Hopefully, people can take positive lessons from that, and use it to make a change or do something positive. I don't speak for Barack. I speak for myself, as you know. There are many things about him that are difficult and almost inscrutable. That's part of the mystery and also part of the reason for his success. …

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