Several months ago I was sitting with Barack Obama in his Illinois home. I had just joined his campaign as an advisor and this was the first real chance I had in a long while to get to know him better. He has an impressive study filled with books along with some notable pieces of African art.
My eyes discovered a particular item on one wall. “That is an impressive fertility cane,” I said.
“Excuse me?” Obama asked.
“The fertility cane,” I pointed at it and he turned and looked. “It is from Kenya, is it not? I see it is made from mvuli wood and it is beautiful”.
Obama paused and then spoke, “Thank you…I must admit I don’t know much about it.” His eyes gazed down at the floor, perhaps in the shame of acknowledging this.
“It is alright my son. This is why I am here.” I told him. “You have been in America for a long time and it has divided the African soul from Africa. This has happened to so many of us. But you can change that and I will help you.”
“I cannot thank you enough for your help,” Obama said. “I feel you can help fill a void in my life and help me find my purpose.”
“My son, your purpose is in your blood. You are the son of Kings and Queens and I help you find your African roots”.
That was nearly six months ago. I enthusiastically joined the Obama campaign knowing that he represented a historical moment of redemption and salvation for all African people. There was no question that there was African royalty in his blood but from where and from whom?
I originally planned on taking a full sabbatical from the university. But I already had planned to teach a class on Obama’s campaign and the demand from students to get into that class was so great that I felt it would be a broken promise not to teach it this semester. So between my time at the university, my research and travels with Obama, my schedule has been full but it has been joyous.
I know that Obama’s ancestral home is Kogelo village, in Kenya. Many hundreds of years ago the Baganda Kingom stretched across the land in what is today Uganda and Kenya. This is where my search began...