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Obama Wore ‘Muslim Garb’ On Kenya Trip

[Note: please see the two updates posted at the bottom of the article.]

A poster named “Bannie” at Free Republic has noted a photo that appeared in the February 4, 2008 edition of the notoriously unreliable supermarket tabloid, the National Examiner:


It appeared in the following National Examiner article:


The resident “experts” at Free Republic are pronouncing this a photoshopped fake. But, oddly enough, there are photographs of Mr. Obama during his (taxpayer funded) trip to Kenya in August 2006, where he is wearing what would appear to be the same red shirt, khaki pants and wristwatch:

US Senator Barack Obama standing next to a camel

[BBC caption:] In Kenya on Sunday [August 27, 2006], US Senator Barack Obama on a visit to his late father’s homeland, is pictured with a camel at an animal market in Wajir, an area hit by a severe drought.

Surely there is some perfectly innocent explanation as to why Mr. Obama felt obligated to get himself done up in Muslim-like gear, if indeed he did.

But why haven’t we seen that photograph until now?

Indeed, there was even a movie made to document Mr. Obama’s historic (taxpayer funded) trip to his father’s homeland. (Again, note the red shirt):

From the Chicago Tribune:

Obama doc is photo op, not propaganda

Filmmakers show senator wooing Africans like primary voters

January 30, 2008

In the documentary “Senator Obama Goes to Africa,” Chicago co-producers Bob Hercules and Keith Walker document the presidential candidate’s August 2006 trip overseas…

Hercules wished for more access to Obama. He got it later when Chicago political consultant David Axelrod hired him and Walker to make two up-close Obama videos that were posted on www.barackobama.com…

The Illinois Democrat sounds like he’s running for office in Africa, not America. “The people of the United States know what wonderful people the Kenyan people are,” Obama tells Kenyans. Long before the Dec. 27, 2007, presidential elections that led to bloodshed, he warned: “Corruption erodes the state from the inside, sickening the justice system until there’s no justice to be found, poisoning the police forces.”

Tribal tensions are not apparent in Obama’s visit to Kisumu, where he and his wife, Michelle, took AIDS tests. “I hope the people of Kenya will see us role models,” says Michelle Obama. Photo-ops occur at the grave of Obama’s father in Kisumu and during a visit with his Kenyan grandmother…

If this low-key documentary is not pro-Obama, its funders are. The credits list six individuals and two companies whose contributions to Obama’s campaign, according to FEC data aggregated at www.politicalbase.com, now total $76,215.

One suspects the scene portrayed in the National Examiner, if it happened, was not included in the movie.


Here is an earlier posting of the photograph at Han-Geeska Afrika Onlline:

[Geeska Afrika caption:] U.S. Senator Barack Obama, right, is dressed as a Somali Elder by Sheikh Mahmed Hassan, left, during his visit to Wajir, a rural area in northeastern Kenya, near the borders with Somalia and Ethiopia. The area is at the epicenter of a severe drought that has hit the Horn of Africa region, after erratic and insufficient rains during the April-June season

So it isn’t a faked photograph after all.



Several people have emailed me about the following post from Rick Moran at the Right Wing Nut House:


… Well, today conservative stupidity regarding Obama and his supposed ties to Islam hit paydirt – as in generating a ten on the laugh-o-meter. Evidently, the probable next president of the United States was caught in flagrante dilecto, dressed to the nines in what appears to be some kind of native garb (probably Kenyan) and with a (gasp!) turban on his head. To some of my unschooled, ignorant conservative friends, this is further proof that if we elect Obama president, there will be a department of Sharia Affairs.

The truth as Jim Hoft (via Sweetness and Light) shows, is a little less dramatic. The costume is that of a Kenyan tribal elder…

Well, Mr. Moran was kind enough to say that we revealed the truth on the issue. And I am usually an admirer of Rick’s writings, especially at the great American Thinker website.

But apparently he didn’t read the caption very carefully, and he does not seem to be as aware as might be of the situation on the ground in the area.

According to the photo’s caption, what Mr. Obama is wearing is NOT a Kenyan elder’s garb, but a Somali elder’s garb. This is quite an important difference, especially in view of the fact that Kenya is 90% Christian and Somalia is 100% Sunni Muslim.

Indeed, here is a photograph of what is considered “traditional dress” in Kenya, from MSN Encarta:

These members of a Nilotic tribe in Samburu, Kenya, are wearing traditional clothing. The men wear solid bright red fabrics; the women have vivid designs on their clothing and collars made of roped beads. Jewelry plays an important role in traditional African dress.

(Note again that during his visit Mr. Obama did wear a solid bright red shirt, which is the traditional color for male dress in Nigeria.)

Furthermore, Mr. Obama is descended on his father’s side from the Luo tribe. Their traditional costumes are described this way in Wikipedia:

Luo (Kenya and Tanzania)

… Adamson (1967) commented that Luos clad in their traditional costumes and ornaments deserve their reputation as the most picturesque people in Kenya. During most of their performances the Luo wore costumes and decorated themselves not only to appear beautiful but also to enhance their movements.

These costumes included sisal skirts (owalo), beads (Ombulu / tigo) worn around the neck and waist and red or white clay were used by the ladies. The men’s costumes included kuodi or chieno a skin warn from the shoulders or from the waist respectively to cover their nakedness. Ligisa the headgear, shield and spear, reed hats, clubs among others. All these costumes and ornaments were made from locally available materials…

So despite claims to the contrary, Mr. Obama was not wearing the traditional raiments of his father’s tribe in the photograph in question.

Indeed, the caption also notes that Mr. Obama is being “dressed” by a Muslim sheik by the name of Hassan. (As in Hassan Nasrallah.)

Moreover, the town Obama was in, his father’s hometown of Wajir, is the capital of the Wajir District in Kenya’s North Eastern Province.

The North Eastern Province is home to almost all of the Muslims in Kenya, who are almost all Somalis or of Somali ancestry. And indeed, Mr. Obama’s father was himself a Muslim and part (maybe half) Somali.

Again, from Wikipedia:

North Eastern Province

The North Eastern Province of Kenya, bordering Somalia, is one of Kenya’s seven administrative provinces outside Nairobi. The provincial capital is the town of Garissa, near Coast Province…

Formerly known as the Northern Frontier District, the North Eastern Province covers most of northeastern Kenya and is inhabited by pastoralist communities. The prominent ethnic group is Somali people. There have been many large Refugee camps in the area, with most refugees from Somalia.

For further elucidation, compare these two maps:



Note that the “Islamist Resistance” (the dark green areas in the lower map) is mostly ensconced down next to Kenya’s eastern border, abutting (and no doubt overlapping) the North Eastern Province.

The “Islamist Resistance” in Somalia are the worst of the worst extremist there. And given how extreme the populace is in general, that is saying something.

As we know, more than a thousand people have been killed recently in fighting over the last election in Kenya — which was in no small part a matter of the position Muslims would hold in that country.

The Muslim angle is heightened by the promises that the losing candidate, Mr. Raila Odinga, is alleged to have made to representatives of the Kenyan Muslims. (A point referenced in the National Examiner’s article.)

And again, on top of all of this, we have Mr. Obama’s own self-professed power as a symbol, a “role model” in Kenya, where is treated like a national treasure.

So whatever else Mr. Obama was doing, he was sending an unfortunate message. And I, for one, see no harm whatsoever in pointing that out.

This article was posted by Steve on Saturday, February 23rd, 2008. Comments are currently closed.

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