In his three years as U.S. president, Barack Obama has been dogged by claims he is not patriotic enough.
Last year he even had to publish his birth certificate to silence doubters who suggested he was not born an American.
Now it emerges that similar fears were expressed about his father, who was categorised with others as ‘anti-American and anti-white’ when he moved to the United States in 1959.
Mr Obama Snr had grown up in Kenya under British rule and aroused the fears of both colonial officers and American officials when he won a chance to study in Hawaii. The officials felt Kenyan students were ‘academically inferior’ with a ‘bad reputation’ for turning anti-American.
A memo from a British diplomat in Washington to Whitehall – released today by the National Archives in West London – sets out their concerns about the young Kenyans.
Dated September 1, 1959, it says: ‘I have discussed with the State Department. They are as disturbed about these developments as we are. They point out that Kenya students have a bad reputation over here for falling into the wrong hands and for becoming both anti-American and anti-white.’
In one of the Foreign Office files, the future president’s father appears on a list of Kenyan students as ‘OBAMA, Barack H’ – they shared the same name.
At the age of 23, he enrolled at the University of Hawaii in Honolulu to study economics with classmates including Ann Dunham, a 17-year-old white American from Kansas. The couple had a short marriage that led to the birth in 1961 of the future president, Barack Obama II.
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