Sunday, February 17, 2008

Ús Barack foar President!

On Sundays at our house the tradition is to call the in-laws in Amsterdam to hear how they are doing. Father-in-law (85) is Frisian, Mother-in-law (81) is Dutch. Usually the news is about how the top Frisian soccer club did or as was the case last week to hear how many Frisians took medals at the World Speedskating Championships. This week the news was quite different. In the liberal newspaper my father-in-law's younger brother reads was a story about the origins of the name Obama. This was to be brought to the attention of the family's only American at the earliest opportunity, i.e. today.

The gentleman on the left is Mr. Jelle Obbema, a Frisian, who around left 1870 left Friesland for Kenya where he made a small fortune in the peppermint oil business. He was one of the founders of the famous Frisian King Peppermint company.

While in Kenya, de Volkskrant writes, Mr. Obbema had many love affairs. Offspring of these affairs were given the name Obama, the African version of the Frisian name Obbema. One of the sons was Sjoerd-Bark Obama, Barack Obama's great-grandfather.

Many Obbemas in Friesland have been famous for their athletic abilities. Finally, there is an Obbema Family Crest and on the crest are the words "Ja, wy kinne - Yes we can." The campaign slogan making the rounds in Friesland these days is: "Ús Barack foar President!"

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