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Homeland: An Extraordinary Story of Hope and Survival [Kindle Edition]

George Obama , Damien Lewis
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $19.99
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Book Description


Homeland
is the remarkable memoir of George Obama, President Obama’s Kenyan half brother, who found the inspiration to strive for his goal—to better the lives of his own people—in his elder brother’s example.

In the spring of 2006, George met his older half brother, then–U.S. senator Barack Obama, for the second time—the first was when he was five. The father they shared was as elusive a figure for George as he had been for Barack; he died when George was six months old. George was raised by his mother and stepfather, a French aid worker, in a well-to-do suburb of Nairobi. He was a star pupil and rugby player at a top boarding school in the Mount Kenya foothills, but after his mother and stepfather separated when he was fifteen, he was deprived of the only father figure he had ever known. Now left angry, rebellious, and troubled, his life crashed and burned. George dropped out of school and started drinking and smoking hashish. From there it was only a short step to the gangland and a life of crime. He gravitated to Nairobi’s vast ghetto, and in the midst of its harsh existence discovered something wholly unexpected: a vibrant community and a special affinity with the slum kids, whom he helped survive amid grinding poverty and despair. When he was twenty, he and three fellow gangsters were arrested for a crime they did not commit and imprisoned for nine months in the hell of a Nairobi jail. In an extraordinary turn of events, George went on to represent himself and the other three at trial. The judge threw out the case, and George walked out of jail a changed man.

After winning his freedom, George met his American brother for a second time, and was left with a strong impression that Barack would run for the American presidency. George was inspired by his older brother’s example to try to change the lives of his people, the ghetto-dwellers, for the better. Today, George chooses to live in the Nairobi ghetto, where he has set up his own community group and works with others to help the ghetto-dwellers, and especially the slum kids, overcome the challenges surrounding their lives. "My brother has risen to be the leader of the most powerful country in the world. Here in Kenya, my aim is to be a leader amongst the poorest people on earth—those who live in the slums." George Obama’s story describes the seminal influence Barack had on his future and reveals his own unique struggles with family, tribe, inheritance, and redemption.


Editorial Reviews

About the Author

GEORGE OBAMA is a Kenyan community activist and ambassador for the Kenyan slums.

DAMIEN LEWIS has reported from Africa for twenty years for the BBC, Channel 4, ABC, CNN, and others. In 2007, he won the BBC One World Popular Feature Award for his reporting on the Darfur crisis. He is the coauthor of Tears of the Desert: A Memoir of Survival in Darfur with Halima Bashir and Slave with Mende Nazer.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.


PROLOGUE


You know, they said this day would never come. They said our sights were set too high. They said this country was too divided, too disillusioned to ever come together around a common purpose. But on this January night, at this defining moment in history, you have done what the cynics said we couldn’t do.

The man’s voice boomed out from the tiny TV screen on the shelf above the bar in Kenya where racks of bottles and glasses sat protected behind thick metal bars. His speech was as strong and unyielding as those cold steel bars, the voice resonant, deep, and powerful, like a rich promise of hope.


In lines that stretched around schools and churches, in small towns and in big cities, you came together as Democrats, Republicans, and independents, to stand up and say that we are one nation. We are one people. And our time for change has come.

In the crowd behind the tall, copper-skinned man who was speaking, I could see a bunch of mostly white people—mzungus as we call them in Kenya—smiling and cheering ecstatically, and waving blue placards with the man’s name on them, or red ones emblazoned with the slogan Stand for Change.


We are choosing hope over fear. We’re choosing unity over division, and sending a powerful message that change is coming to America.

This was the voice of a man who in the winter of 2008 had the promise of becoming the next U.S. president. But more than that, perhaps, this was the voice of a man who might truly make history by becoming the first black president of America. But to Kenyans like us, this was first and foremost the voice of a man who was Africa’s lost son, for as far as we were concerned, he was half-Kenyan and hailed from one of the foremost tribes in our country—the Luo.


The time has come for a president who will be honest about the choices and the challenges we face, who will listen to you and learn from you, even when we disagree, who won’t just tell you what you want to hear, but what you need to know.

Unlike every other black Kenyan in that bar, I had a unique and special reason for listening to those words. For the man delivering this extraordinarily rousing speech was my half brother, a brother by blood, but one that I had barely known.


This was the moment when we tore down barriers that have divided us for too long…. This was the moment when we finally beat back the politics of fear and doubt and cynicism, the politics where we tear each other down instead of lifting this country up. This was the moment.

From the wild cheering of the crowd, and his repeated appeals to them personally—“You said… You heard… You called…”—I felt as if the people of America knew this man far better than I, and felt a more personal connection to him, and yet he and I shared the same father. We had lived two separate lives, a world apart, yet in a sense we were joined forever by birth. And that was the strangest thing of all for me; that was both the closeness and the gulf between us.


Years from now, you’ll look back and you’ll say that this was the moment, this was the place where America remembered what it means to hope.

I glanced around the sparse bar, with its plain and yellowing walls. A bare concrete balcony looked out over the noisy, chaotic streets of the ghetto. Old men and young clustered around the chipped Formica tabletops, gazing at that screen and listening with something like rapture. Not a soul in that bar cared much for Kenyan politics, which seemed forever mired in corruption. But in this man—in their lost African son—Kenyans saw their own promise of hope and change that might somehow shine a light into the dark heart of Africa.


For many months, we’ve been teased, even derided for talking about hope. But we always knew that hope is not blind optimism…. Hope is that thing inside us that insists, despite all the evidence to the contrary, that something better awaits us if we have the courage to reach for it and to work for it and to fight for it.

Hope. He used that word a lot, did my big brother in America. Yet for so many years hope had been an alien concept to me. During my darkest, lost years the very concept of hope had been closed to me. It was only relatively recently that I had learned again what it meant to know and to feel the true spirit of hope.


Hope is what led a band of colonists to rise up against an empire. What led the greatest of generations to free a continent and heal a nation. What led young women and young men to sit at lunch counters and brave fire hoses and march through Selma and Montgomery for freedom’s cause.

After living a life of relative privilege, I had crashed and burned in my teens, and I had lost all hope. I had migrated from the plush Nairobi suburbs to a life with the city’s street kids, and from there I had been sucked into the wild chaos of the ghetto. I had lost myself in drink and drugs, and I had become a gun-toting gangster, caught in a life of violence and crime.


Hope—hope is what led me here today. With a father from Kenya, a mother from Kansas, and a story that could only happen in the United States of America.

At the mention of our country the crowd in the bar jumped to its feet, cheering wildly. What would the drinkers think, I wondered, were they to realize that Barack Obama’s half brother sat in their very midst—George Obama, an unremarkable resident of the Huruma slum.


Hope is the bedrock of this nation. The belief that our destiny will not be written for us, but by us, by all those men and women who are not content to settle for the world as it is, who have the courage to remake the world as it should be…

While he was striving to become president of the United States, I was a slum-dwelling ex-prisoner and ex-gangster. And with each day that my big brother’s fame and status grew, I knew deep within myself that my anonymity couldn’t last. In a day, a week, a month, whatever, someone would inevitably make the connection—we shared the same father, but had different mothers—and venture into the closed and dangerous world of the slums to track me down.


We are the United States of America. And in this moment, in this election, we are ready to believe again.

Sure enough, the journalists and reporters came into my ghetto homeland in droves. Having my long-lost brother win the American presidency would prove both a blessing and a curse.

Not even he could erase the darkness and the shame in my past. Only I might do that, by helping build for the people of my slum homeland a better and a brighter future. And one step at a time I reckoned we were getting there.

© 2010 George Obama and Damien Lewis


Product Details

  • File Size: 2118 KB
  • Print Length: 332 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1439176175
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; 1st edition (January 5, 2010)
  • Sold by: Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00321ORB2
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #724,475 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars From the more eloquent Obama August 20, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is the Obama autobiography worth reading. George Hussein Obama is a truly amazing and caring man, who lost his way for a time and paid for it in conditions I read, yet still cannot fathom. He returned to become an inspiration to and leader of those who dwell in the Huruma slum of Nairobi.
His mother's family, and later, his father's family, instilled in him his true worth. He is his own man, and I admire him for being just that.
This is a well written book by Damien Lewis and George Hussein Obama. If you have a heart and a mind you will be moved by the clear, and occasionally, far too detailed (for a Westerner), descriptions of the conditions, the struggle, and the brutality of the `powers that be' that those less fortunate in Kenya experience.

I highly recommend this book and the following websites found at the end of the book.
(...)
(...)
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enlighting and thought provoking February 26, 2010
By ETU
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
A personal account and insight on how he dealt with abandonment from his father figure. The turn of events that caused both a distructive lifestyle and another event that brought him to evaluate what he wanted for his future...one that was to be productive and rewarding. The view of a ghetto that is universal I was left with the new meaning of "family" in a ghetto,and embracing the responsiblity to help our fellow man with a vision of hope. In the end the philosophying became a bit preachy. However, I was left with the need to read how this young man continued his life / lifestyle. Will there be a sequel?
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating Perspective from the Kenyan Slums June 25, 2012
By Popps
Format:Kindle Edition
You learn a lot more than about a single life from this book, but about a way of life. The insider perspective from the Kenyan mean streets is a rare one and George's narrative allows for a vivid presentation of the slums. The life he lead to survive his environment was not pretty, but this book not only exposes not only internal motivations, but also displays how harsh a reality millions of people suffer from. There is a large personal growth from George and you become inspired by his determination to turn his life around. Highly recommended.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Homeland is definitely EXTRAORDINARY September 18, 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
What refreshing honesty, self examination and independent thinking. He has a strong independent personality willing to self criticise, learn from mistakes and take responsibility for his actions. Laced with all of this I found a good person who has a caring personality not afraid to expose his needs and vulnerabilities. This is a fast easy read and I highly recommend it.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Read September 6, 2011
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This books is well worth the read. Georege Obama's story is at times heart breaking and in the end inspiring. To see and feel all the adversity he had to go through in his early years, and to see that in the end he not merely survives but even thrives is truly remarkable.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Obama's half brother!!!! November 2, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I found the book 'Homeland' by George Obama interesting. It tells a story of a young man that has had a hard
life, but seems to have survived. George lives in a country that does not have many 'safety nets'. He has lead a life of crime and addiction, yet he has come through this to be a productive person.

It was interesting to see that the two half brothers are similar and different at the same time. George exeprienced the same death of a father at a young age. He had a male figure for a while in his life. This person left, reasons not stated. This hurt George greatly. He rebelled and for many years he was in a downward spiral. His intelligence kicked in and he has done some really good work for the society around him.

Barack also lost this same father. It seems that he was raised without a strong father figure. Barack is also intelligent. He has taken this intelligence all the way to the presidency of the USA.

What I found most interesting about the two brothers lies in the fact that both have ended up as community
organizers. Barack as a liberal that seems to feel that government is the answer to people's problems. George on the other hand seems to feel that people have to look out for themselves.

I agree more with George than Barack. I was very impressed with this man's idea of self responsibility and that he wants to do it alone. He does not want Barack to step in and it seems that Barack agrees.

A Good Read.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful example of the human spirit...! September 1, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I was absolutely taken in by this book and could not put it down. It is so different than what I expected. Here is a young man whose life started out as privileged and spiraled into a very dark place because of heartbreak. All through the book I could see his good character even during his darkest times. He's honest and holds nothing back about his life. He is living the life he wants to live now and is finding his joy in helping the people, especially the kids, in his slum community. It's his life calling and he loves it. What is that but a dream come true and a success? I admire him greatly. You will come to love George. I sure did.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars From gang crime to huge inspiration - great book June 25, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition
The narrative surpasses a simple autobiography to show the reality of what living in one of the most lawless and poverty stricken slums in Kenya truly means. Revealing a life that most cannot imagine, George Obama explains not only how he fell into car-jacking and street-fighting, but also how he left that lifestyle behind. With a conclusion delving into why George refused to leave his adopted family in the slums, but chose to instead work on bettering their situation, is a moving development. How his path compared to and crossed with that of his brother, President Obama, was also fascinating to follow.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Hope in the slums
This book didn't grab my attention until George Obama's life changed. I know there are people in the world who struggle but I never imagined it to the degree told in his story. Read more
Published 1 month ago by WOB
5.0 out of 5 stars A heart-opening biography.
I fell in love with George from the time he was young all the way through the many obstacles he has faced in his life, including being a youth filled with anger, through to the... Read more
Published 5 months ago by David W. Cox
3.0 out of 5 stars Brother
Fair account of the life of the brother of Mr. Obama. It was interesting to see various sides of Africa and how primitive some areas are compared to other more advanced places. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Florence NIghtingale
3.0 out of 5 stars Bought for a family member.
I bought this for a family member and they said it was an ok read. It came in like new condition.
Published 7 months ago by daddy's girl
3.0 out of 5 stars It's ok, I work to finish the book.
This book needs to be proof read. There are spelling errors. The story seems to come from the heart of a young man. Read more
Published 8 months ago by M. Barney
4.0 out of 5 stars Brother
I always find it amazing to read about separated families on how even though you've never met how much a like people really are. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Heather
4.0 out of 5 stars This book Merits an Open Mind: It Will Make You Think
(Quote) "You know, they said this day would never come. They said our sights were set too high. They said this country was too divided, too disillusioned to ever come together... Read more
Published 10 months ago by Thomas Baker
5.0 out of 5 stars Nice book
I usually hate writing limted reviews. its ok book liked it and it was cool and ok at the same time
Published 11 months ago by Lisa D. Smith
5.0 out of 5 stars Brother
A fantastic story of an individual and country that struggles with life today. An eye opening story of life in the ghettos of Kenya and the individuals that survive there. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Michael D. Connell
5.0 out of 5 stars Warm, Entertaining and Informative.
George Obama writes with warmth & honesty. He is to be admired for the way he turned around his life of crime. Read more
Published 12 months ago by S. Hutek
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