He’s running for office on a campaign of change. We’re sure his beaten wives would appreciate a change themselves.
Indeed, female members of his extended family accuse him of being a wife-beater and philanderer, who seduced the newest of his estimated 12 wives while she was a 17-year-old schoolgirl — a crime in a country where the legal age of consent is 18.
To the dismay of teachers and the girl’s mother, Mary, Obama had secret trysts with the girl after spotting her attending prayers at the mosque he has built in Kogelo — he and his brother’s ancestral home — as part of his promotion of the Islamic faith across the country.
Now in hiding at her mother’s mud house, down a rutted track, Sheila Anyango, 35 years younger than her husband, told me this week that marrying him was the ‘worst decision’ of her life — and confirmed that they had ‘kept a secret’ since she was 17.
Shy and softly-spoken, Sheila, 20, says: ‘At first he was good, after he started speaking to me at the mosque. But he has changed. Marrying him has been the biggest mistake of my life. He beats me, but mostly he’s just nasty and quarrelsome.’
Mary, 36, whose husband died from malaria soon after she gave birth to Sheila, can barely contain her fury. ‘He abuses my daughter,’ she tells me. ‘He is a bad old man. She was a child at school. There was no negotiation with me.
‘He made a secret plan to take her away and gave her 3,000 shillings [about £24] to get her to marry him. She’s a young girl — she was confused. I just don’t like that man.’
Sheila, who has an 18-month-old daughter by Obama called Hafifa, had spent the past two years living with three of Malik’s other wives at the ‘Barack H Obama Foundation rest and relaxation centre’ — a restaurant complex built by her husband to profit from the visitors attracted to the area by his links to his brother.
Nor is Sheila the only one of Malik’s wives to accuse him of beating her.
Hafsa Abwanda, now 33, also married the politician as a teenager, but escaped in 2008 after five years of marriage, saying he beat her and her ‘co-wives’, of whom she says she saw at least 12 come and go over the years.
Before Hafsa fled her miserable marriage to live with relatives, she had a son with Malik, who she took with her when she left. ‘He is a bad man and I don’t want to ever see him again,’ she says.