Part 5 in a series to delve deeper into who Obama is by learning who the people are that shaped his life. Who were the people that raised and mentored him? And just WHO is Barack Hussein Obama, II?
Lolo Soetoro was born January 2, 1935 in Bandung, Indonesia. He obtained a grant from the East-West Center for graduate study in Geography at the University of Hawaii. He arrived in Honolulu in September of 1962. It was during his time at the University that he met Ann Dunham.
There have been different websites with varying dates of the marriage. These dates range from 1964 to 1967. The Hawaii Registrar shows the date of the marriage to be between 1960 and 1965. I have located a passport application for Ann Dunham Soetoro which shows the date of the marriage as 1964. It is here:
Documents show that Soetoro tried in vain to remain in the United States beyond his visa, even going so far as to get a court order for an extension, essentially going around the East-West Center. Ultimately, his visa was denied and he returned to Indonesia on July 20, 1966. Ann and Barry stayed behind with her parents in Hawaii.
In 1967, Ann and Barry were reunited with Lolo in Indonesia. Barry was 6 years old. Here is where it gets interesting. In order for Barry to have attended school in Indonesia, he would have to be a citizen of the country. This is why Lolo adopted him and why, on his school records, his name is very clearly Barry Soetoro and his religion is Islam. The document from Barry’s first school in Indonesia is here. He attended the Santo Fransiskus Assisis, a Catholic school from January 1968 to December 1970.
The first line gives his name, the second where he was “born” and the third his religion. At this time, Lolo worked at Dinas Topografi, a mapmaking survey company that contracted with the Indonesian army. You can see it is listed as his employer in the above document right under his signature. In 1970, he left that company and went to work for Union Oil where he became a very well-connected government liaison officer. That job came with perks and among those perks was access to the best schools for Barry. This is why he attended Besuki School, one of the three best schools in Indonesia. Besuki School is where the well-connected send their children if they are not already sending them to the very expensive international school. In fact, once Ann divorced Lolo, she got a job working for the Ford Foundation in 1980 and began sending her daughter, Maya, to Jakarta International School.
Other than Obama, there has only been one non-Indonesian at the Besuki School and that was a Dutch student. But, since Besuki School was founded in 1934 by the Dutch for Dutch colonialists and the Indonesian elite, this isn’t surprising. It was taken over by the Indonesian government in 1962. Even now, as it was then, Basuki School is a prestigious place where potential students are on waiting lists. It doesn’t seem likely that they would waste one of their prime seats on a student who wasn’t even Indonesian considering it is the place that government officials and the well to do send their children.
According to Liperty Marpaum, a staff member of the department of Law and Labor (Hukam & Pegawaian), which handles the education policies for the Indonesian government, “It is extremely rare that non-Indonesians go to Indonesian public school”. He said that, “foreigners must apply and ask permission for the department of education before they may enroll and even must give a copy of their passport and reasons for wanting to go to school in the country. Most of the foreigners are Asians—Filipinos, Thai, and the like, not Europeans. And Americans? No. All of the Americans go to international school.”
We do know, through Obama’s own admission, that his last name was legally changed to Soetoro. In order to have a legal name change at such a young age, an adoption would be in order. I will cover all of this in greater detail when I get to Obama himself. The rest of Soetoro’s life is pretty much inconsequential as it relates to Obama.
Lolo Soetoro died March 2, 1987 in Jakarta, India of liver failure. He was 52.