Barack Obama Childhood

Sep 7th, 2008, in Asides, by

Discussion on Barack Obama‘s childhood and schooling in Indonesia.

31 Comments on “Barack Obama Childhood”

  1. Patrick says:

    @ Mets – How did Barrack Obama survive his time in Jakarta as he was mixed race and his mother’s husband (Indonesian man) at the time was not his natural father? Really curious about this. Do you or anyone else know how he was treated by his class mates?

  2. Purba Negoro says:

    I would imagine ok- but probably teased a lot.

    But it was very strange he attended Public School not International school like normal diplomat child

  3. Mets says:

    @ Patrick – I kinda dont think he did as he is a presidential candidate for the US….lol!!!..he is without a trace of an Indonesian accent which will suggest majority of his later childhood & younger adult life was in the US…

    Not sure really as he is still a good few years older than me lol!!

  4. Patrick says:

    @ Met – You really need to get out more, read some newspapers and watch the news! It will go along way to supplement that elitist Indonesian education you received at Santa Ursula you bragged about. Good luck!

  5. Mets says:

    @ Patrick – describing a school setting does not mean one is bragging lets be clear !!! also …..isn’t the Education infrastructure in Hawaii exactly like the US, also didnt Obama graduate from Columbia then Harvard…which would constitute his younger years and younger adult life!!! I don’t know in the US…

    But more to the point…what exactly is your point!!!

  6. Patrick says:

    Mets – My point is that your initial response to my query about Barrack Obama’s treatment by fellow students in Indonesia seemed to suggest that you have no knowledge that he attended schools in Jakarta. Your second response also has no indication of his attending Indonesian schools. Hence, my advice to get out more, read newspapers etc.

  7. Mets says:

    @ Patrick – from my understanding he attended a couple of schools in Jakarta at a very young age for only a few years… what impact did this have on him in those schools which was only for a short period, absolutely none…… for me there is no focus point to explore that minimum experience…

    Hence the overall result, he is now one of your presidential candidate!!! Too too picky on minor detail……it is fairly apparent his spell living in Jakarta has had no major impact… possibly also including the relationship with his stepfather during that time … the experience describe is too woolly and broad & not personalised…….

    Maybe you should digest what you read perhaps….if we are going to work on assumption!!!lol

  8. Patrick says:

    @ Met – Your back pedaling into the “SPIN ZONE”. I asked a simple question based on what you wrote about mixed race children attending school in Indonesia. My question specifically concerned the treatment of Obama by his classmates while he attended Indonesian schools for a period of 4 or 5 years (depending on the source). I only inquired if anyone knew anything anything about that subject? Your replies regarding this matter are at best inane!

  9. Rob says:


    Maybe you could make your enquiry to his campaign office and see if they have a standard spiel that they issue for such questions. The how was Obama treated in Indonesian schools id probably a little off topic in this thread. Unless of course your question pertains to his dating experiences in the 4 or 5 years that he was schooled here 😀

    I don’t know how he was treated. I guess you are looking for people who went to school with him at the time. To this end I think the Jakarta Post ran a few pieces about his formative years in Indonesia. If I recall correctly these pieces ran at the same time as the Democrats held their local “primary”. Also, if I recall correctly, most comments referred to Barack Obama being called “Barry” and pretty much being treated as any other kid.

    But if you are really interested then you can do the research for yourself 😀

    Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

  10. Enigmatic says:

    If I’m not mistaken I read that his classmates thought he was from Irian when he first came…

  11. Mets says:

    @ Patrick – you asked my view I gave it and you accused of me of not reading or getting out much…

    I explained the reasons why – you call me inane…you forget I did state he is quite a few years older than me …… we are of a different school generation age!!!!

    Also you were being rather obnoxious…sorry to say & for ‘spin zone’ – WHATEVER!!!

    & to be frank I do not work for the Obama political campaign !!! so maybe take Rob’s advise – do your own reaseach ???

    @ Rob -good point

  12. Patrick says:

    @ Rob – Gee what great advice “do my own research!” I did before I inquired and thats what picqued my interest in the first place because there is so little information about Obama’s time in Indonesia. The McClatchy news group in one artcle said “On the campaign trail, Obama hasn’t emphasized his years in Jakarta, and by some accounts it wasn’t a particularly happy time in his life.”

    Met made a statement about that mixed race kids in Indonesian schools are often treated harshly by there fellow students. Since I never read anywhere that this happened to Obama I inquired to Mets or anyone else if they knew anything about how Obama was treated by his school mates in Jakarta. I already knew he switched schools frequently in Jakarta and was wondering why? Two other people on this thread gave polite answers to a rather simple question even if their posts provided no new information. Unfortunately, Mets reply was rather condescending in my opinion and therefore was uncalled for considering the benign nature of the question posed. In fact Rob, the same could be said of your reply proving once again the old proverb “Birds of a feather flock together” : > )

  13. Rob says:


    If you are looking to pick a fight in the written form by commenting as you have then so be it…perhaps it is you that needs to get out more rather than sitting perched high up there offering advice to others.

    Have you contacted his campaign team for comment? Either in the US or here in Jakarta?

    As I said there were some articles at the time in the local media, interviews mainly with the people he went to school with. Well, I guess the McClatchy newsgroup answers your question doesn’t it? Obama’s time in Indonesia and Jakarta was not particularly happy.

    What do you want from Mets? Do you want her to go out and find sources of information for you and then put them in contact with you? But in the end I would have thought that the best commentator on Obama’s childhood in Jakarta and the treatment of mixed race children in Jakartan schools would be from the man himself.

    I have not read his books, but I have heard he deals with his Indonesian experiences. In how much detail and to what extent he touches on his schooling and the treatment he received from his fellow students I do not know. But I am guessing that by your patronizing tone you have read absolutely everything there is to read, questioned absolutely everyone there is to question, talked to absolutely everyone, and done all of your own research! You have now admitted defeat in that you have been unable to find the answer in your own search and now you come to IM for help. Is that right? If you haven’t done all of the advice things that I mention then perhaps you have not done all the research you could have done. Hence my good advice to you!

    IN your opinion it was condescending, diddums! Your tone is the same so perhaps the other old adage applies here as well, “you can give but you cannot take!” I don’t know Mets, I don’t agree with everything that she says but if you feel that you are entitled to have an opinion then so is she, don’t you think?

    My original response was pretty tame and in that sense hardly goes to proving the proverb you suggest. Running out of ideas and ways to insult? Read some of Purba Negoro’s stuff and you might get some new ideas about how to do it. Both the insulting and perhaps on the research front as well.

  14. Patrick says:

    @ Rob – There you go bloviating again and all for what, to defend Mets because of the way she chose to answer a question? Go back and read my original question and ask yourself if it is a reasonable question or not to ask? Was I forcing Mets to make an answer? Did she even have to answer at all? Since she did decide to answer were her comments reasonable?

    Your comments concerning my research or lack of are confusing. If I knew all, why would I bother to ask? And what exactly constitutes defeat here? I did not realize asking those questions were a win or lose situation? These questions were formed from my own curiosity and for no other imagined reason as you seem to suggest. After-all I am not a journalist or media reporter nor freelancer of any kind. Your original response you say was “tame” and I say it was at best asinine! But asinine comments seem to be what you do best! If you want to find out about anything of course you can research it on line and sure Obama is one source but maybe he has not disclosed all or has not been completely forthright concerning his experiences? He is after all as a politician and therefore he has an image to protect. What if that information is incomplete as it is clearly so in the Obama Indonesian episode? As far as I know, the classmates interviewed came from only one school so why have we not heard from the class mates at the other school (s)? Why not pose these questions here to people here at Indonesia matters in the hope that someone may step forward and offer us insight not previously disclosed? I know you did not think that part through thoroughly did you? You were so intent on defending Mets and getting a little revenge at me that you lost all your objectivity in this matter. Right?

    As far as picking a fight, I did not start out with that intention but if you think it worth fighting about then by all means take your best shot!

  15. Mets says:

    @ Patrick – my original response was admittedly broad to say the least, but I did point out that he is several years older…that should have been the “white elephant’ in my response….;

    When you later told me to get a life & elitism – thats when it snowballed… responses to you in that manner was to point out to you how silly it was for you to look into/ analyse and jump to conclusions towards simple FAIRLY WITTY response.

    So I say to you ‘GET A LIFE’ & dont take things too seriously!!!

    @ Rob – thank you once again, a fellow IM that can take it and dishes out even more RESPECT !!!

  16. Rob says:


    Asinine you really do need to get out more and do some more research rather than wasting time. I am kind of wondering how my comments have been asinine. But I guess you’re the wordsmith, so I will have to take your word for it!

    My original comment pointed to some comments about the Obama experience. My second comment offered additional alternatives for possible research. You have, as you usually do, failed to address those comments in specifics in preference for a bit of hit and run.

    Have you talked to Obama’s campaign team? Either here or there? Have you read any of his personal writings? A believe there is a memoir! What exactly is it you have done besides the McClatchely news group?

    Maybe rather than issuing orders to go back and read your original comment to gauge the tone of the original question, my take would be start practicing what you preach and then get a dose of humility! I did not criticise your question, my comments merely suggested some research alternatives and then that perhaps there is more research you can do than merely hoping for IM to fill in the blanks. For this I get bloviating and asinine. You really could learn a thing or two from Purba on the insults game.

    But, to each their own. You seem to feel that IM owes you something and that you’re the main man…I am just a bloke making ends meet and wasting time on IM responding to what I read with what I know, right or wrong. And right now I am going to look up the definitions of bloviating and asinine.

    Have a nice day!

  17. Patrick says:

    @ Mets – Looks like your learned something from the criminal justice system in London as it appears you are copping a plea to the lesser charge of being vague (in your original posting) instead of having to defend yourself against the more embarrassing charge of ignorance! ha ha ha! OK your plea is accepted and your sentence is time served! LOL As far as your white elephant is concerned that only proves that you were aware of who Obama is but does not necessarily imply prior knowledge that he attended schools in Jakarta.

    @ Rob – Your obviously a proud man so need to continue our little skirmish. Peace!

  18. Michael Bryant says:

    Patrick has clearly intimated that racially mixed children ( especially those of Black mixture) are not treated well, in schools and other venues, and may very well be actually despised by most Indonesians. No one has dug deeper into this subject, but if it is true, can someone explain why a nation of brown, black and non-white peoples have such an aversion and dislike for Black people ?
    Is Bhinekka Tunggal Ika a truely heart-felt sentiment within the nation or is it a sham to deflect criticism of Indonesia’s possibly racist national character ? Why are Blacks the object of dislike and derision rather than whites ? Are there still large numbers of Indonesians who wish they were Dutch and not Indonesian ( if you can read between the lines ) ? Anyone care to comment ?

  19. Purba Negoro says:

    Bhinnek Tunggal Ika is not about racial diversity. It does not even mean “unity in diversity”.

    It is in Kawi, which is also modern Javanese (I am native fluent in both):
    “Variety that’s one”
    Bhinneka- variety
    Tunggal- one- as in a number
    Ika- itu- that’s

    In the context of the stanza from Empu Tantular’s poem- it is specifically referring to the virtues of Hindu and Buddhism remaining truthful to the goal of Dharma,

    It was chosen because of its connotations of religions and geographical solidarity.
    It’s context of choice was reconciliation between Islamics who wanted an Islamic Indonesian caliphate, and secular Nationalists- who sought a national secular Republic.

    Multiculturalism was not invented until armchair revolutionary hey-days of 1970’s- when the petty leftist bourgeoisie and academia could masturbate publicly about their trite morals and non committal trite vocal disavowel of racism- yet returning home to live in middle-class whitebread surburbia, marrying duaghters off to white doctors and upper management.

  20. Many people associate obama with Indonesia … i don’t know did people think obama is moslem because he had live in Indonesia ?

  21. Aluang Anak Bayang says:

    Hi Michael Bryant re,

    Patrick has clearly intimated that racially mixed children ( especially those of Black mixture) are not treated well, in schools and other venues, and may very well be actually despised by most Indonesians. No one has dug deeper into this subject, but if it is true, can someone explain why a nation of brown, black and non-white peoples have such an aversion and dislike for Black people ?
    Is Bhinekka Tunggal Ika a truely heart-felt sentiment within the nation or is it a sham to deflect criticism of Indonesia’s possibly racist national character ? Why are ? Are there still large numbers of Indonesians who wish they were Dutch and not Indonesian ( if you can read between the lines ) ? Anyone care to comment ?

    Patrick is not local and he is wrong. Just because Nigger bashing and Black bullying are favourite past time hobby of the West, the Bule like to distort things and make it as if it is commonplace in Indonesia. We grew up with Timorese and Papuan Blacks and treat them like one of us.

    Racially mixed children of Asian and Whitey (especially if the mother is Asian) may be bullied and despised. I have not heard of Black bullying in Indonesia. Obama could easily be mistaken for a Papuan in his younger years. Papuans are not despised or disliked; simply regarded as country people or remote people. So your questions of ‘Blacks the object of dislike and derision rather than whites’ are hot air.

  22. Purba Negoro says:

    Hear Hear
    Pak Akmad.

    Yet again- more baseless emotive drivel spouted by moronic whites full of their own urine and flatulence.

    Such loud inane groans from the moral onanists and Armchair Revolutioniaire Front get tiresome and offensive.

    Why don’t they all stay indoors and pleasure themselves sadomasochistically with their wipe-clean Amnesty International centre-page spreads and leave us sane people in peace.

  23. Michael Bryant says:

    Hello Aluang:
    Terima kasih for your thoughtful response although you falsely characterized one of my questions as “hot air”, as you care to state. Perhaps that was just a poor choice of words in response to a serious question. At any rate, your explanatory response appears credible but you are only the voice of one Indonesian whose influence, unfortunately, has not touched the minds of other dark and fair skinned Indonesians I have encountered ( in both Indonesia and US ) who have only contempt for Black people. Apparently, not all Indonesians have had the benefit of your constructive interactive experience with Timorese and Papuan Blacks. I can only speak from my perspective based on what I have observed in Indonesian speech and “uncomfortable” body language whenever most are within arm’s distance of a Black person. I have even observed some Indonesians getting up out of their chair and moving when a Black person sat down next to them. How would anyone care to characterize such behavior ? Do some Indonesians have a false fear of catching a disease or somehow becoming soiled by merely sitting next to a Black person ? I think you would be amazed at the number of people who subscribe to this ignorance.

    By the way, do you agree with Purba’s explanation of Bhinneka Tunngal Ika ? “Variety that is one” , as he states, could still be translated, in my assessment, as ” One (people) out of many ” , much the same as E Pluribus Unum.

  24. Aluang Anak Bayang says:

    Hi Michael Bryant,

    Indonesian is a generic name. There are numerous Pribumi ethnics, Indon Chinese, Dutch and Bule mixs, etc. The Indon Chinese for some reason have a morbid fear of anyone with darker skin tone. Pribumis, Mixed, and Blacks or anyone with skin tone darker than Yellow are consider inferior. You must have heard and seen some nasty comments and uneasy body language from an Indon Chinese. I could be wrong, but I have not seen any Black bullying in Kalimantan (some Dayak tribe such as Bidayuh are as Black as negros) and East Javanese. My wife is from Solo and she had not heard of it either.

    The Pribumis may be frightened of Blackie just as many are afraid of Bules. An example is when you visit a local brothel, many would not want to serve Blackie or Bule; not because they are despised rather than they are afraid of alien. Bully no, frightened yes. An interesting thing to note if you travelled widely in Asia. Pribumis do not have gang culture or gang mentality as the Chinese. We may break and run amok after being pushed over the edge, but bullying is not part of our culture.

  25. Michael Bryant says:

    You amuse me. You sound exactly like an angry wannabe 1960’s socialist radical psuedo-intellectual who was born a few decades too late. Your “revolutionary” rhetoric is both aimless and meaningless without conviction or persuasion. Why are you so angry and who is the object of your anger ? Please explain. You never know…we might agree on a few points !!

  26. Purba Negoro says:

    Michael- I’m glad you find me amusing,

    I am indeed referring to exactly to the kind of moral onanist armchair revolutionary your comments indicate you seem to have affinity for.
    The ‘anger’ you infer highlights your minds’ emotive bias.

    Post modernism and the rest of its intellectually corrupt penny-dreadful self-indulgent tripe is as passe as the orange and brown extra wide kipper-tie. But we patiently await many bule to catch up to anything approaching modernity or intellectual honesty.

    And I completely support Pak Akmad’s comments.

    Chinese are notoriously racist- as highlighted by their infamous cultural belief: “one white covers a hundred defects”.
    The see themselves as the mirror of their former beloved white masters and protectors.
    They will as a rule live in insular colonies of similarly bigoted Chinamen- hence Chinatowns the world over- note no Greektowns or Italisn towns etc?
    Anyone with brown skin to them is ultterly inferior.

    Perhaps the blacks also are just of very low socio-ecoonmic background.
    Same situation occurs when a low-status white sits next to a high-status white.
    We’ve all been to the trite, hypocritical and facile West- do not attempt to bullsh*t- our knowledge of the West is far better than you attribute we quaint ‘natives’ us to having.

    “Malays are so lazy wan- not work hard like the Cheena man”:- Lee Kwan Yew

    When was the last time you spoke anything other than barking orders to your black baggage handler, “Soul-brother”?

  27. Aluang Anak Bayang says:

    Further response re,

    I have even observed some Indonesians getting up out of their chair and moving when a Black person sat down next to them. How would anyone care to characterize such behavior ? Do some Indonesians have a false fear of catching a disease or somehow becoming soiled by merely sitting next to a Black person ? I think you would be amazed at the number of people who subscribe to this ignorance

    I am in Brisbane at the moment. Reminded me last Saturday night when dining alone in ‘Restaurant Two’. A group of Indians was seated not too far from me; tried not to be rude but I could no longer take their body odour. Politely asked the manager for a change of seat, somehow the Indians overheard it and was offended. No, I do not think I would catch any disease from them, nor do I despise them. I would do the same for anyone who pongs regardless of race. Probably this is what you observed.

  28. Michael Bryant says:

    It seems you and I have had a similar experience. I also have have been offended by some Indians and Pakistani’s whose body odor was too pungent to endure. I sometimes wonder if strong body odor is considered attractive or acts as a pheromone in the Indian and Pakistani cultures because I encounter it far too often for it to be an example of isolated personal hygiene. But my previous example of an Indonesian moving away when a Black person sat next to them was not the result of offensive body odor, I can assure you. And the Indonesian who moved was dark skinned and not Chinese, as you may have assumed.
    But I am intrigued by your previous statement ” Racially mixed children of Asian and Whitey (especially if the mother is Asian) may be bullied and despised “. I am curious about your evaluation as to why the bullying or despisement would be more intense/hurtful if the mother is Asian rather than the father. Why is it more degrading to be a mixed child of an Asian mother ? Please advise.

  29. Michael Bryant says:

    You are not only amusing but now you are becoming clownish. It’s amazing how someone such as yourself seems to have an aversion for Chinese while at the same time being a hold-over supporter of Mao. Are you still reading Mao’s Little Red Book ?
    Spout some more revolutionary drivel and babble. It’s very funny.

  30. Purba Negoro says:

    No problem Soul Brutha- despite me being a Nationalist I’ll try:
    From the Cheenamans Littoh Led Boo’ (with pretty LED flashies):
    “One white cover one hun led defect lah”
    (One white coevrs one hundred defects- Chinese cultural racism based on skin tone”

    “Wan easy plofit wun- make fake baby milk ! Flanchise avay-or-buh”
    “Want easy profit- make fake baby milk! Franchises Available”

    “Flied Lice? Two Dollar!”
    Fried Rice- only two dollars!”

    “Malay so lazy wan, lor”

    “Baby have kidney stone- he win lucky plize of fortune golden rainbow cloud of thousands virtue”
    “If your baby has kidney stones- that means he was won first prize courtesy of Sanlun Milk, Coking Steel and Nerve Agent Concern”

    How was that?
    Lay some skin on me, blood.

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