Filmmaker Peter Firstbrook traces Barack Obama’s family back 700-plus years to the Sudan.
Barack Obama never lived in Kenya and he met his African-born biological father only once (at the age of 10, when his father visited him in Hawaii for part of a day). On his mother’s side, the 44th president of the United States has a multiple-nationality ancestry typical of that of tens of millions of Americans: 37 percent English, with smaller mixtures of German, Irish, Scottish, Welsh, and Swiss.
So is there any reason to take a particular interest in President Obama’s African roots? Would it not be overreaching to suggest that his Kenyan heritage plays a particularly significant role in shaping the man who today occupies the White House?
Perhaps. But Peter Firstbrook, a British documentary filmmaker who has traced the roots of the Obama family back to the year 1250, has nonetheless performed a useful service. Not only does his book, The Obamas: The Untold Story of an African Family, dig where other researchers have failed to look, but it also provides a compelling narrative about a place, a tribe, and the difficulties of uniting humanity across boundaries.