When he was a rising young comedian in the 1980s, the late Sam Kinison did a sketch on the topic of starving children in Africa. His routine usually went along the lines of the following:
"I'm like anyone else on this planet. I'm very moved by world hunger. I see the same commercials, with those little kids, starving, and very depressed. I watch those kids and I go, '[Heck], I know the film crew could give this kid a sandwich.'"
Kinison's comedic play on the situation was that the commercial film crew likely had enough food and water to end the child's hunger. Yet, they did not. Kinison's routine came to mind when I read the story of George Hussein Onyango Obama in the Italian version of Vanity Fair magazine. Barack Obama's mother and father had at least nine children between the two of them. George, the offspring of Barack Obama, Sr. and a woman who was the fourth to bear the senior Obama's children, is the youngest of Senator Obama's siblings. Obama, Sr. is known to have fathered eight children with four different women: Kezia, Stanley Ann (Obama, Jr.'s mother), Ruth and Jael. According to Senator Obama's 1995 memoirs, his father had children with Kezia both before and after Barack, Jr. was born to Stanley Ann.
The title of the Vanity Fair article screamed "Barack Obama's 'lost' brother found in Kenya," implying that the young man, aged 26, had been missing. However, this does not appear to have been the case. George was not missing. He simply dropped out of sight.
THE VERY EXISTENCE of George Obama was not a mystery to the Democratic presidential candidate. The Illinois Senator wrote of meeting his youngest half-brother during his first trip to Kenya in 1988. Barack described George as "a handsome, roundheaded boy" and "that if he ever came to me I would be there for him."
According to George, the two did not meet up again until Obama's third trip to Kenya in August 2006. It was during that trip that Obama campaigned on behalf of Raila Odinga, who was challenging Kenya's incumbent president. George described the 2006 meeting. "It was very brief. We spoke for just a few minutes. It was like meeting a complete stranger."
According to George, he is subsisting on less than one dollar a month, which raises the question of why hasn't Senator Obama given some -- even minimal -- financial support to his brother? Sure, it is possible Obama did offer support and George turned him down. That is the excuse we can likely expect from the Obama camp. Yet such an answer would not seem plausible given the circumstances.
Obama's campaign website is replete with phrases such as "it's time for America to be seen as a global leader," "I will lead the world to combat...poverty," and "we also have a collective responsibility to...give every family the chance that so many of our parents and grandparents had. This... [is] a responsibility I intend to take very seriously as President."
The age-old phrase is that charity begins at home. Yet, the man who received a multi-million dollar book deal, whose 2007 family income was $4.2 million, and whose political donor base is two million strong, apparently has not reached out to a brother who is literally living in six by nine foot shack on the outskirts of Nairobi.
NO ONE NECESSARILY expects Senator Obama to buy George a multi-million dollar mansion next to his own in the exclusive Hyde Park neighborhood in Chicago, but isn't it reasonable to expect that Obama would at least send a few hundred dollars to his brother? According to the UN, the average annual income in Kenya is just under $600. For a mere $2,000, Senator Obama could immediately elevate his half-brother into Kenya's upper income ranks. And while Obama has not given any money to his brother George, he gave more than $26,000 to the Reverend Jeremiah Wright's church last year.
George is not the only brother in possible financial difficulties. According to Britain's the Sun newspaper, another Obama brother may be in need of assistance. Bernard Obama, a 37-year old practicing Muslim who is the son of Kezia, is living in a "council house" with his mother in a suburb west of London. A "council house" is English lingo for public housing.
The Democratic presidential contender continually repeats the themes of empathy, service and sacrifice. He claims a personal history of "seeking to improve living conditions in poor neighborhoods." Yet, Barack Obama does not practice what he preaches when it comes to his very own family. One can only imagine what Sam Kinison would have said about this turn of events.