© Miri WTPOTUS October 6, 2011
Recently, new information turned up concerning the second husband of Ruth Beatrice Baker Obama Ndesandjo (Barack H. Obama II’s stepmother). Ruth’s second husband’s name is Simeon Ndesandjo. As previously reported, he was a friend of her first husband Barack Hussein Obama (BHO Sr.). Simeon is Tanzanian, not Kenyan.
Ruth Beatrice Obama married Simeon Ndesandjo about 1980. See our O Timeline for links and details. Subsequently, Ruth’s two sons by BHO Sr., Mark and David, took Simeon’s surname: Ndesandjo.
American news stories state that with Simeon, Ruth had another son by the name of Joseph. “Joey” is mentioned in Barack II’s fictional “memoir”, Dreams From My Father. But no Richard. More about him later.
We know that Ruth’s husband was Simeon Ndesandjo, and that’s confirmed by this public notice from the Kenya Gazette, Feb. 3, 2006:
That notice also confirms that Ruth’s middle name is Beatrice (unless that’s her maiden name). Until Janny Scott wrote her biography of Stanley Ann Dunham (A Singular Woman), we were told that Ruth’s maiden name was Nidesand (suspiciously close to her eventual married name). Scott informs us for the first time that Ruth’s maiden name was Baker and that she’s the daughter of the late Maurice and Ida Baker, of Newton, Massachusetts. So far, we have no independent secondary confirmation of that information. Ruth isn’t talking.
One of our regular commenters, alfy, recently tipped us to a 2010 Kenyan magazine article about Ruth. In the interview, Ruth described how she named the kindergarten that Simeon Ndesandjo had built for her. The school is known as Madari. Her sons, she says, are Mark, David (reportedly deceased), and Richard; the first two letters of each name make up the name of the kindergarten: MA DA RI.
Now this is quite a puzzlement, because heretofore it’s been reported that Ruth’s children are Mark and David, by BHO Sr., and Joseph, by Simeon, although very early news stories from Kenya reported that Ruth had sons (plural) with Simeon, which leaves open the possibility that she does have another son, named Richard Ndesandjo.
There are news articles about a Kenyan tennis player (from the early 2000s) named Richard Ndesandjo, who competed for the Davis Cup (among other titles) and who also apparently attended Cornell University from 1994 through 1998. (Those articles are now available only by subscription.) Today, Richard is about 35 years old, being born circa 1976, so about 4 years before Joseph. But wait!
Ruth and BHO Sr. were divorced by then, and she and Simeon were not yet married, although as with most stories about the extended Obama clan, accounts vary. Perhaps this is a different Richard Ndesandjo. Or perhaps that timing explains the apparent quasi-news blackout about Richard.
Another day, another Obama family puzzle.
Maybe Joseph was merely a twinkle in Simeon’s eye when Ruth named the kindergarten after her then-3 sons. The kindergarten’s website says that the school was “purposely built in 1979″ but opened the following year. Ruth also said that she’s a grandmother, as of 2010. Which son provided these grandchildren, is not known.
But back to Simeon. It appears that he was a very well-connected man of government as well as business. (Like BHO Sr., in fact!)
In June of 1963, the Kenya National Assembly Record (the Hansard) mentioned Simeon Ndesandjo. Specifically, friend of BHO Sr. and then Kenyan Minister for Justice and Constitutional Affairs, Tom Mboya, referred to a photograph in the East Africa Standard, stating that the House of Representatives had been
told that the top executive management at K.B.C. [Kenyan Broadcasting Corporation] is all Luo.
He referred to and named the men in the photograph (not available to WTPOTUS), referring to the men as those who
are going to be the top persons in the Voice of Kenya.
Mboya identified Mr. Simeon Ndesandjo, Head of Swahili Service, and then went on to complain that
out of this effective list, there is only one Luo.
Whether that one Luo was Simeon Ndesandjo, is anyone’s guess. Below is a screen shot of the excerpt that mentions Simeon Ndesandjo:
That House debate concerned nationalization of the Kenya Broadcasting Corporation. According to Wikipedia,
Kenya Broadcasting Corporation (KBC) is the state-run media organization of Kenya. It broadcasts in both English and Swahili, as well as in most local languages of Kenya. The corporation started its life in 1928 when Kenya was a British colony. In 1964, when Kenya became an independent country, the corporation’s name was changed to Voice of Kenya. In 1989, the Kenyan parliament reverted the corporation’s name from Voice of Kenya to Kenya Broadcasting Corporation. … During the rule of former president Daniel arap Moi, KBC became the official mouthpiece of the government. Each broadcast opened with a piece on what the president had been doing that day.
Daniel arap Moi was the Speaker of the House at the time of that 1963 debate; Mboya congratulated involved parties on the swift Africanization of the KBC.
So Mr. Simeon Ndesandjo, early on, was a key player in the business of Africanization and nationalization during the move to Kenyan independence from British rule. Not unlike his friend, BHO Sr.
Between 1964 and 1979, Simeon became the owner of a firm called High Fidelity Productions of Nairobi. In 1979, he obtained another prestigious and likely lucrative position: Chairman of CBS Records Kenya, a new subsidiary of CBS Records, International. That would be Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS), not the current CBS Records, which is a division of Viacom.
The caption reads:
Launch Party: Peter Bond, right, CBS Records International vice president responsible for African affairs, officially opens the company’s new Kenyan subsidiary at a special ceremony in Nairobi. Left is John Dolan, CBS Records International vice president out of New York; center is Simeon Ndesandjo, chairman of CBS Records Kenya.
Following is text from the article; see this link for the rest.
Overseeing the new company is Peter Bond, vice president of CBS Records International, whose considerable African experience (including the stewardship of Phonogram Kenya [Ltd.]) led to the partnership choice of High Fidelity. Latter firm’s owner, Simeon Ndesandjo, will serve as chairman of the new CBS subsidiary.
In addition to Ndesandjo, CBS Records Kenya will have a managing director, to be appointed (probably from the current 10-person staff) by Peter Bond.
The company has temporary headquarters at Uchumi House in Nairobi, but is seeking a permanent site. Bond, normally based in London, is currently working out of the Kenyan capital during the launch period.
John Dolan characterizes the Kenya move as a significant, though not major, investment. It’s a modest market in sales terms, he says, but vital as a talent source and springboard into other African territories. There are good concert venue facilities and a thriving club scene. …
He also mentions the help received by the multinational during the formation of its new subsidiary, from banking, government and media circles.
With the appointment of a managing director, one wonders if Simeon was selected to Africanize the company, for the sake of appearances. In the same way that some “minority-owned” businesses today are actually fronts for white-owned businesses, with a minority figurehead. Was affirmative action at work, way back then, in 1979, in Kenya?
When the stolid colonial government was confronted with the Mau-Mau rebellion and a world spotlight turned on African nationalist aspirations, Colmore was the obvious choice to initiate one response – to inaugurate a new more human Swahili broadcasting service. He again recruited announcers, quiz masters, musicians and comedians and, once that painful era of Kenya’s history had passed, he was in a good position to contribute to further improving race relations in the new Kenya.
He took Kenyan citizenship and his succession of houses in Muthaiga – a prestigious Nairobi suburb soon bristling with ministerial and ambassadorial residencies – was always full of African guests, by no means all from the new up-and-coming good and famous classes. He was never poor and, if one overlooks the five Rolls-Royces he owned during this period, nor was he at all ostentatious. Ever a natural liberal, if he nevertheless unconsciously continued to insist on the attention and precedence in Kenyan daily life formerly demanded by the settler classes, most Africans cheerfully continued to accord them to him, largely perhaps on account of his age and good, if quite often bawdy, humour.
A gifted photographer – he took the official portrait of President Jomo Kenyatta – and also no mean mimic, occasionally he could be persuaded to perform at parties and before hilarious audiences at Muthaiga Country Club. His Swahili was immaculate, but he could also converse in several other Kenyan languages and was never happier – or more popular – than when joking and haggling in vernacular markets.
The man sounds very much like the kind of guy BHO Sr. would seek out. BHO Sr. and Colmore probably knew each other, since they likely ran in the same circles. Did Simeon Ndesandjo know Colmore? Both were involved in Swahili broadcasting. Ndesandjo, during the sixties, at KBC. Later, both men were involved with High Fidelity Productions. Colmore may have been Ndesandjo’s boss, if High Fidelity of Nairobi was a subsidiary of High Fidelity of Kenya. We already knew that BHO Sr. and Ndesandjo were friends.
So is this record and broadcasting mogul–Simeon Ndesandjo–Ruth Obama’s second husband? Circumstantial evidence argues yes. Currently, he’s Facebook “friends” with Joseph’s wife Dora. He’s 75 years old, the perfect age for a contemporary of both Ruth and BHO Sr. And Ndesandjo is not a very common name in Nairobi. Likely, this connected guy is Ruth’s mysterious Tanzanian husband. If memory serves, he very much resembles the man we once saw in a wedding video.
Here’s a fun link to an example of High Fidelity’s work. Talk with the animals!
h/t to all our crack researchers here at WTPOTUS. For more information and details, check out this thread on our research blog. This post will be updated as more information is found about Simeon and Ruth, and especially with regard to the mysterious Richard Ndesandjo.
Stay tuned, as they used to say in broadcasting!
A photo of Simeon at his son Joseph’s wedding:
The Kenya Gazette informs us that in 1962, Simeon Ndesanjo (aka Ndesandjo) was appointed to the position of Broadcasting Producer by the Kenyan Civil Service. He made £855-1170. Haven’t a clue what that translates to in today’s British pounds.
So not only was Simeon a producer, a recording executive, and a broadcasting mogul, he seems to have been a TV star! A man of many talents. His program, Bata Shoe Box Show, must have been quite a hit, especially with that illustrious, madcap co-star Peter Colmore.
Here is a newer post about Ruth “Nidesand”.
Note: 11/20/2012 post was modified to reflect the true author and main researcher for this article.