Idealism Met Different End for Obama Sr.

Kenya's graft drove Dem's father to drink, untimely death at 46
By Jonas Oransky,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 17, 2008 4:03 PM CDT
A photograph of Barack Obama Sr. hangs on the wall of his own stepmother's house.   (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)
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(Newser) – Like his candidate son, Barack Obama Sr. was charismatic, eloquent and idealistic, those who knew him say—so idealistic he was devastated by the corruption he saw in his native Kenya. The Harvard grad was so disillusioned upon his return to Africa, the Los Angeles Times reports, he turned to drink, with several DUI accidents preceding the car crash that killed him, at 46, in 1982.

"In developing countries, it is always the brightest people who suffer the most," said a friend of the elder Obama, regarded as a rising star upon his return after Kenya's 1963 independence. He bucked when confronted with corruption, quitting or getting fired from several governmental jobs for whistle-blowing and combative behavior—eventually ending up a changed, even broken man.