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Barack Obama Sr. - Timeline


This page presents important events in Barack Obama Senior's life. Barack Obama Sr. is Barack Obama's father.





1936 – 1955

Barack Obama, Sr., is born on Nyangoma Kogelo village, Kenya. The village is situated on the shores of Lake Victoria and is part of the Siaya District.

- At a child, Barack Obama Sr. attends a missionary school.

- As a youth, Obama Sr. works as a goat herder in his village.


- At 20 Barack Obama Sr. gets a job as a clerk in Nairobi, Kenya. That same year, while on holiday, he meets a 16-year-old girl called Kezia at a dance in Kundy Bay, Kezia's home town. The school girl Kezia falls in love with Barack Obama Sr. and decides to follow him to Nairobi on a whim. Kezia's father is furious and goes to Nairobi with Kezia's brothers to try and bring her back home. When Kezia refuses, they threaten not to speak to her again.


January, 1957: Obama Senior's father sends Kezia's parents 14 cows for her dowry and soon after they get married in a tribal ceremony. Barack Obama Sr. and his wife Kezia set up a home in Jericho, a district of Nairobi.


At 21, Barack Obama Sr. and Kezia have their first son, Abongo (Roy).


At 23, Barack Obama Sr. is awarded a scholarship from an American program offering educational opportunities to Kenyan students. The leaders of the Keynyan Independence movement, who put him forward for the scholarship, hope that Barack Obama Sr. would use his western education to help develop Kenya.

Barack Obama Sr. writes to 30 colleges and universities and is finally accepted at the University of Hawaii.

Barack Obama Sr. then moves to the United States to study economics at the University of Hawaii, leaving behind his 18-year-old wife Kezia with their 1-year-old son Abongo. At the time of his departure Kezia is three months pregnant with their daughter Auma. Barack Obama Sr. promises Kezia to come back.


At 24, Barack Obama Sr. meets fellow student Ann Dunham at a Russian language class. Ann is 18, an American white girl, who recently moved to Honolulu from Washington with her family and enrolled in the University of Hawaii. The two start dating.


At 25, only several months after they first meet, Barack Obama Sr. marries Ann Dunham in a discreet ceremony to which no one is invited. At the time of the wedding Ann is 18 and already three months pregnant with Barack Obama Junior. Ann doesn't know Barack Obama Sr. has a wife and children back in Kenya.

On August 4, 1961, Barack Obama Jr. is born.


At 26, Barack Obama Sr. wins a graduate scholarship to Harvard. He enrolls in September 1962 to pursue a Ph.D. in economics and for that end moves from Hawaii to Boston, Massachusetts, leaving behind his 19 year-old wife Ann and his 1 year-old son, Barack Obama Jr.


Ann Dunham divorces Barack Obama Sr.

1965 - 1981

At 29, Barack Obama Sr. receives his Master's degree in economics from Harvard. Upon completing his Master's degree he returns to Kenya with Ruth Nidesand, an American teacher he meets at Harvard. Ruth later becomes his third wife.

In Kenya, Barack Obama Sr. works as an economist in the Ministry of Economic Planning.

In 1965, the East Africa Journal publishes an article by Barack Obama Sr., where he criticizes the government approach to economic planning. Barack Obama Junior in his autobiographical book Dreams from My father says that his father's published views put him in a conflict with Kenyan president, Jomo Kenyatta, and consequently his career is ruined. Philip Ochieng, Obama Senior's friend, says that Obama Senior's character ("extraordinary clever, but also cruel and given to boasting about his brain and wealth") is the reason to his failure.

When Barack Obama Sr. later loses his job he suffers long periods of poverty and wounded ego.

Barack Obama Sr. and Ruth Nidesand have two children together, but she too divorces him. Ruth, who was married to Obama Sr. for seven years, says he was a "very difficult man" and that "he wasn't an easy person to be around." Obama Senior is described by his friend Philip Ochieng as one who is "excessively fond of Scotch". He adds that Obama Senior "in his later years had fallen into the habit of going home drunk every night." And that "this was what forced Ruth to sue for a divorce."

In 1971 Barack Obama Sr visits Hawaii to see his 10-year-old son, Barack Obama Junior. This is the last time the two see each other.


At 46, Barack Obama Sr. is involved in a car accident and both his legs are amputated. Not long afterwards he dies in another car crash in Nairobi, Kenya.




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