Most people are by now aware that Lupita Nyong’o and Barack Obama share a cultural heritage in that their fathers both belong to the Luo ethnic group in Kenya but there are three lesser known facts that link the two personalities.
1. Education USA
Lupita’s father and Barack’s dad both received their higher education in the United States. While the Academy Award winning actress’ father got his masters and doctorate degrees in political science at the University of Chicago, Barack Obama snr obtained his undergraduate degree at the University of Hawaii and masters at Harvard University.
2. Political harassment from autocratic governments
Barack’s dad became an opponent of Kenya’s first president Jomo Kenyatta as well as his successor Daniel Arap Moi leading to his losing his government job. Peter Anyang Nyong’o, Lupita’s father, had similar problems with Daniel Arap Moi, leading to the constant harassment of his family.
The disappearance of his brother Charles finally forced him out of his government job and into exile in Mexico where Lupita was born three years later in 1983.
3. Citizens of the world
Peter Nyong’o, who was a political science professor at the University of Nairobi, became a visiting lecturer in 1980 when the family moved to Mexico. They relocated briefly to the United States before going back to Kenya where the political harassment resumed.
At age sixteen, Lupita’s parents sent her back to Mexico to learn Spanish after which she went to Hampshire College in the United States where she graduated with a degree in film and theater studies. She returned to Kenya at age 25 to work in film and television. Then she traveled again to the United States to study for a master’s degree in acting from the Yale School of Drama before landing the coveted role in the definitive movie 12 years a slave.
Lupita’s father said in a British Broadcasting Corporation interview that the need to constantly be on the move and adjust to changing circumstances that she has been through since she was a kid might have played a major role in molding her into a strong actor.
Barack also had his fair share of moving from place to place. His parents divorced in 1964 and in 1967, he left the United States with his mother to join his stepfather in Indonesia. In 1971, He returned to Hawaii to live with his maternal grandparents.
After completing high school in 1979, Barack moved to Los Angeles to attend Occidental College. Later in 1981, he transferred to Columbia college, Columbia University in New York where he majored in political science.
In 1987, Barack went to Kenya for the first time, and in 2006 visited Kenya again as well as South Africa, Djibouti, Ethiopia and Chad.
“I was raised as an Indonesian child and a Hawaiian child and as a black child and as a white child,” Obama later recalled. “And so what I benefited from is a multiplicity of cultures that all fed me.”
And in his memoir, ‘Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance,’ Barack said “I’m inspired by the people I meet in my travels–hearing their stories, seeing the hardships they overcome, their fundamental optimism and decency. I’m inspired by the love people have for their children. And I’m inspired by my own children, how full they make my heart. They make me want to work to make the world a little bit better. And they make me want to be a better man.”