Fact Check

Is This Barack Obama's Kenyan Certified Registration of Birth?

"It's definitely a copy of my certificate. It's so laughable it's ridiculous."

Published Aug. 6, 2009

A Certified Registration of Birth issued in Kenya documents that Barack Obama was born in that country.

On 2 August 2009, realtor/dentist/lawyer Dr. Orly Taitz Esq. unveiled her latest piece of dubious evidence in her long-running quest to demonstrate that President Barack Obama was not born in the United States of America: A photograph of a document purporting to be a Certified Copy of Registration of Birth issued by the Republic of Kenya in February 1964 which recorded a "Barack Hussein II" as having been born to Barack Hussein Obama and Stanley Ann (Dunham) Obama in Mombasa, Kenya, in August 1961. Said document was reportedly obtained by Dr. Taitz from "an anonymous source" who didn't want his name disclosed because he was "afraid for his life":

Skeptics quickly identified a variety of reasons for questioning the legitimacy of the supposed Kenyan document, such as:

  • The document is dated 17 February 1964 and a bears a legend identifying it as having been issued by the "Republic of Kenya," but Kenya (a former British colony) didn't officially adopt that name until 12 December 1964. In February 1964, it was known as the Dominion of Kenya.

  • The listed age of Barack Obama's father is incorrect. (Barack Obama Sr. was born in 1936 and therefore would have been 24 or 25 years old at the time of Barack Jr.'s birth, not 26 as shown on the document.)

  • Mombasa is very far (several hundred miles) away from the part of Kenya in which Barack Obama Sr.'s family lived. Even if Barack Obama's parents and family had wanted to travel away from their home so his birth could take place at hospital facilities within a large city, they would likely have set out for the much closer city of Nairobi.

Within a few days the certificate was clearly revealed to be a fake — it was actually a forgery based on a copy of an Australian Registration of Birth issued to one David Jeffrey Bomford (who was born in South Australia in 1959) which was grabbed off the Internet and used as a template for creating the fake Kenyan certificate:

(Note the many features shared by these documents: Same certificate number, same book number, same page number, and the remarkable similarities in names — the Registrar listed on the Australian document is G.F. Lavender, while on the Kenyan document, it's E.F. Lavender; the District Registrar listed on the Australian document is J.H. Miller, while on the Kenyan document it's M.H. Miller.)

When reporters tracked down David Bomford, who currently lives in Adelaide, South Australia, for comment, he was somewhat bemused at having become the focus of an international news story:

Bomford said it was hard to believe "a grey-haired old guy sitting in a corner in quiet old Adelaide" had been swept up in a push to unseat the most powerful man in the world.

"It is interesting someone from here being involved in a conspiracy — that is so funny," he told public broadcaster ABC.

Bomford said he knew nothing about the "birthers'" claims.

He said the fake Kenyan birth certificate contained his personal details and was clearly based on his own South Australian document.

"It's definitely a copy of my certificate. It's so laughable it's ridiculous," he said.

Bomford said he only expected relatives researching their family tree would be interested in the document when it was posted on the Internet.

Dr. Taitz declined to throw in the towel and admit she was duped by a forgery, however, instead claiming that the "Bomford [birth certificate] was created to try to discredit my efforts" and suggesting that hoaxsters had created an identical (phony) Kenyan Registration of Birth in order to discredit her genuine (phony) Kenyan Registration of Birth.

Another Barack Obama "Kenyan birth certificate" of dubious origin was offered for sale by one Lucas Smith via eBay in August 2009:

This document exhibited many of the same red flags as the previous forgery, including its identification of the location of Barack Obama Jr.'s birth as Mombasa, even though that city was very far away from the part of Kenya in which Barack Obama Sr.'s family lived:

The image is part of the extremely ill-informed conspiracy theory that Obama was born in Mombasa — conveniently, one of the more Muslim parts of the country.

This has always been a red flag for conspiracy theorists, so it deserves some explanation. Barack Obama Sr. was born and educated in Nyanza Province, in southwestern Kenya, on Lake Victoria. This is the area where Obama's family lived and continues to live; Sarah Obama, the step-grandmother of the president, lives in Nyang'oma Kogelo, a small town in the province. But Mombasa is a city on the Indian Ocean, a thousand miles to the east. It didn't even have an international airport until 1979.

In September 2009, Orly Taitz attempted to introduce the second "Kenyan birth certificate" in the case of Rhodes v. MacDonald as evidence that Barack Obama was born outside the United States U.S. District Court Judge Clay Land dismissed the complaint and threatened to sanction Ms. Taitz if she filed any similarly frivolous motions in the future:

Plaintiff has demonstrated no likelihood of success on the merits. Her claims are based on sheer conjecture and speculation. She alleges no factual basis for her "hunch" or "feeling" or subjective belief that the President was not born in the United States ... Unlike in Alice in Wonderland, simply saying something is so does not make it so.

Plaintiff's counsel, who champions herself as a defender of liberty and freedom, seeks to use the power of the judiciary to compel a citizen, albeit the President of the United States, to "prove his innocence" to "charges" that are based [solely] upon conjecture and speculation. Any middle school civics student would readily recognize the irony of abandoning [the] fundamental principles upon which our country was founded in order to purportedly "protect and preserve" those very principles.

Plaintiff's counsel is hereby notified that the filing of any future actions in this Court, which are similarly frivolous, shall subject counsel to sanctions.

A spoof web site, the Republic of Kenya Birth Certificate Generator, allows Internet users to create their very own fake Certified Registration of Birth documents from Kenya.


Colvin, Mark.   "Adelaide Man Caught Up in Bid to Oust Obama."     ABC News [Australia].   4 August 2009.

Riquelmy, Alan.   "Judge Throws Out 'Birther' Complaint in Georgia, Puts Lawyer on Notice."     [Columbus] Ledger-Enquirer.   16 September 2009.

Weigel, David.   "'Birthers' Latch Onto Forged Kenyan Birth Certificate."     The Washington Independent.   3 August 2009.

Weigel, David.   "Is This the Source of the Forged ‘Kenyan Birth Certificate?'"     The Washington Independent.   3 August 2009.

Agence France Presse.   "Australian Man Laughs Off Obama Birth Conspiracy."     6 August 2009.

Daily Nation.   "Anti-Obama Lunatics Living in Denial."     5 August 2009.

David Mikkelson founded the site now known as snopes.com back in 1994.