Obama’s Mama in Malamalama

What’s all this about? I have a story published in Malamalama, the University of Hawaii biennial magazine, about Stanley Ann Dunham, President-Elect Barack Obama’s mother.

Ann was a student at the University of Hawaii. It’s where she met Obama’s father, Barack Obama, Sr., the first African student enrolled at UH. The story is about a woman who questioned authority, crossed cultural barriers, sought to improve working conditions in third-world countries, in particular in Indonesia and other Asian areas, and helped by establishing microfinancing for the crafts men and women of these areas. 

In her eyes, all were equal. Through her eyes, both “Barry” and his little sister Maya, developed a broad view of the world. The skills of a simple villager hammering out a metal puppet or dyeing a gorgeous batik would be compared by Ann to the wisest of government officials. She saw the value that a peasant brought into the world and demanded that those in high places appreciate that value.

August 2008 Obama body surfing at Sandy Beach
August 2008 Obama body surfing at Sandy Beach

And now we have her son as our next President of the United States. Someone who spent time overseas absorbing different cultures, someone who attended the prestigious Punahou School on scholarship, while staying with his grands. Someone who has as often been on the outside as he has been on the inside. Someone with empathy. His Mama must be proud. We in Hawaii most certainly are.

I am honored for the opportunity to have written this story. Anyone would be blessed to know Ann’s story. You can find it here.

The magazine of the University of Hawaii
The magazine of the University of Hawaii

By lavagal

Hawaii Kai wife and mom. Melanoma Stage 3a Cancer survivor. English Language Arts teacher, English Learners Coordinator, and Paraprofessional Tutor. Super sub teacher. Dormant triathlete. Road cyclist and Masters swimmer. Gardener. Mrs. Fixit. Random dancer. Music Curator. A teenager trapped in an aging body. Did you know 60 is the new 40? It is.


  1. Congratulations again on a great article! President-elect Obama has brought hope to our country and the world. I pray that he will have the support of Congress and other world leaders to do what is necessary to make America and our global society a better place for everyone, especially our children.

  2. Great article, Paula. I have so much respect for ‘Toot’ for her selfless contribution to the raising of our 44th President. However, after reading ‘Dreams from My Father’ a couple of years ago and, of course, your article, I so would have liked to know Stanley Ann Dunham. She was quite a woman; clearly ahead of her time.

  3. I read Time’s article on Obama’s momma, and I found it a bit stilted. I prefer the way your story flowed. You also covered more of her academic work, which is fitting for a Malamalama piece. Good read :_)

Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: