Obama's half brother happy to live in China

Updated: 2011-06-25 08:21

By Todd Balazovic (China Daily)

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Obama's half brother happy to live in China

US President Barack Obama's half brother Mark Obama Ndesandjo autographs for a reader his new book Nairobi to Shenzhen: A novel of Love in the East in Beijing on Friday. Wang Jing / China Daily

US expatriate visits Beijing to promote book

BEIJING - US President Barack Obama's half brother said he hoped the Chinese version of his book will help China and the United States understand each other better.

"I hope that my book will let Chinese people know more about some aspects of American life, and on the other hand, I hope it will help those in America and other parts of the world understand China," said Mark Obama Ndesandjo, who lives in China.

He was talking exclusively to China Daily ahead of a news conference in Beijing on Friday to mark the release of the Chinese translation of his semi-autobiographical book, Nairobi to Shenzhen: A novel of Love in the East.

The book, originally released in English in 2009, is billed as a part-fiction, part-fact account of his journey to China.

"The book is not only about the theme of family, it's also about China, it's about Shenzhen," he said referring to the city in Guangdong province he has called home for the last nine years.

Ndesanjo, who has adopted the transliterated Chinese name De Ma Ke, said he was drawn to China to learn the language and culture while helping orphans learn to play the piano.

A percentage of the proceeds from sales of the book will go toward helping orphans in China.

He said his decision to write the book as fiction was in part because he had still not yet come to terms with his childhood.

"I imagined if I was my father and I was writing a diary, what would I say? So I started to write that diary."

Obama senior died in an traffic accident in 1982 aged 46.

Ndesandjo, who was born in Kenya but has US citizenship and a physics degree from Stanford University, first came to China in 2001 after leaving his telemarketing job following the Sept 11 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York.

He said the current conditions in the United States are similar to those that first inspired him to look at his life and move out of the country.

"I went through what a lot of people are going through right now," he said, referring to the economic hardship people are suffering in the US.

He is not sure whether he will stay in China or eventually move back to the US.

"Tomorrow I don't know, but right now I am happy in China," he said.

He also revealed that he is in the final stages of writing a memoir about life in the Obama family.

Ndesanjo declined to discuss specifics about the memoir, but said it would go into detail about growing up with the US president's father.

The normally media-shy half brother, who was born to Barack Obama Sr's third wife after he divorced the president's mother, hinted the upcoming memoir would be more in-depth about his brief relationship with the US leader as well as providing more details about his childhood.

"It will all become much clearer," he told China Daily.