Malik Obama, the half-brother of former U.S. President Barack Obama and a fervent supporter of President Donald Trump, re-ignited a controversy that dogged America’s first African-American president throughout his term of office by tweeting an image on 9 March 2017 of a document allegedly proving that Barack wasn’t born in Hawaii, as he claimed:
Surely. What’s this? pic.twitter.com/jaczNXTIv0
— Malik Obama (@ObamaMalik) March 9, 2017
The image, which first surfaced in an eBay auction 2009 and was immediately debunked as a forgery, is of a birth certificate supposedly issued by the British Protectorate of Kenya in 1961. It’s one of several fake documents circulated by proponents of “birtherism,” a nexus of conspiracy theories holding that Obama was never qualified to hold the office because he could not (supposedly) establish natural-born citizenship.
The document says Barack Hussein Obama II was born in Mombasa, a city on the east coast of Kenya. However, Obama’s paternal family lived (and still lives) hundreds of miles to the west in the Nyanza Province, along Lake Victoria. Mombasa, originally part of Zanzibar, wasn’t incorporated into Kenya until the latter became an independent nation in 1963, two years after Obama was born. Additionally, historians specializing in African history have pointed out several other anachronisms that betray the certificate as a hoax.
The timing of Malik Obama’s reposting of the forgery suggests that it’s a propaganda effort aimed at discrediting his half-brother, who has been rumored in the far-right media to be spearheading opposition to President Trump’s agenda. In a previous tweet, Malik has declared himself the president’s “Thot Patrol General”:
I stopped being the first brother of the United States and became Thot Patrol General for President Trump. God is Great!
— Malik Obama (@ObamaMalik) March 8, 2017
Malik responded to dismissive media reports questioning the authenticity of the birth certificate in a Trumpian fashion by slamming journalists:
Gon peel that onion folks. And I don’t need crooked, dishonest, and TOTALLY CORRUPT JOURNALISTS to help me.
— Malik Obama (@ObamaMalik) March 10, 2017
For his part, President Trump was birtherism’s foremost proponent during the 2016 presidential campaign but broke decisively with his co-conspiracy theorists in September of that year when he stipulated that “President Barack Obama was born in the United States, period. Now we all want to get back to making America strong and great again.”
Bullen, Jamie. “Half-Brother of Barack Obama Shares Former President’s ‘Kenyan Birth Certificate’ with Comment ‘Surely. What’s This?'”
Daily Mirror. 10 March 2017.
Koppelman, Alex. “Birthers Release Forged Kenyan Birth Certificate for Obama.”
Salon. 3 August 2009.
Fox News. “Trump Says Obama Born in U.S., ‘Period’ — After New ‘Birther’ Dust-Up.”
16 September 2016.