Brits Tortured Obama Patriarch in Kenya Revolt

Granddad was jailed, beaten for 2 years in '50s Mau Mau uprising
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 3, 2008 9:09 AM CST
Sarah, the step-grandmother of Barack Obama, reacts as she gives a news conference at the family's homestead in Kogelo village, Kenya, Wednesday, Nov. 5, 2008.   (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
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(Newser) – British jailers tortured Barack Obama's grandfather during the struggle for Kenyan independence, his family tells the Times of London. Hussein Onyango Obama, who worked as a cook for a British army officer, was arrested in 1949, aged 56, and imprisoned for two years. There he was subjected to daily whippings and horrific sexual torture that left him permanently scarred, according to his widow, Sarah Onyango.

Obama's grandfather was arrested during the Mau Mau rebellion, when the British killed up to 50,000 Kenyans in response to the deaths of just 32 Europeans. His widow describes torture with "castration pliers," a brutal practice documented in a Pulitzer-winning history of the independence struggle. In his autobiography, Dreams From My Father, the president-elect mentions that his grandfather was jailed for "more than six months" but provides no detail.