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CNN LARRY KING LIVE
Mark Obama Desanjo Gives his First Interview About Brother Barack Obama, and Father's Abuse; Rihanna Breaks Her Silence About Chris Brown's Abuse.
Aired November 7, 2009 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LARRY KING, CNN HOST (voice-over): Mark Obama Desanjo, in his first in-depth interview about his famous sibling, and the forceful father that shaped both their lives.
Rihanna has broken her silence about abuse of the hands of Chris Brown. Embarrassed, ashamed, she says they were dangerous for each other.
And now, Robin Givens, Mary Murphy and Denise Brown are here with their reactions. Did Rihanna help others from returning to abusers? Next on "LARRY KING LIVE."
(on camera): Good evening, our subject tonight is domestic violence, a very important subject. Later in the program, we will be joined by Dr. Gail Saltz, the psychiatrist and best-selling author, and by Barack Obama's half brother, also a victim of domestic violence.
We begin with Robin Givens, the actress, author and advocate, the ex- wife of the former heavyweight champion, Mike Tyson. She is New York, spokesperson for National Domestic Violence. She is in Washington, I'm sorry. In fact, she came to Washington to be keynote speaker at a fundraiser gala for Knockout Violence against Women.
Here in Los Angeles Mary Murphy, a judge on the TV reality competition show "So You Think You Can Dance," recently told the world she is a survivor of domestic abuse.
And a return visit of Denise Brown, sister of the late Nicole Brown, O.J. Simpson's ex-wife, and advocate against domestic violence, which has been reported often about here sadly late sister.
Robin, do you feel you are making headway? Do you feel that all these outspoken programs about it, the domestic violence program you are involved with, do you think you are helping people?
ROBIN GIVENS, ACTRESS, AUTHOR, ADVOCATE & EX-WIFE OF BOXER MIKE TYSON: I do think so. I think this is something, Larry, that kind of grows in the dark as most problems do. I think the more that we speak about it and talk about it and scream about it and write about it and come on programs like yours, I think we are making headway, yes.
KING: I wonder if it helps though if it stops the men from doing it. Rihanna says she is stronger, wiser and more aware because of what happened to her. She opened up about her feelings to ABC. Let's watch. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RIHANNA, RECORDING ARTIST & MODEL: This happened to me. I didn't cause this. I didn't do it. This happened to me and it can happen to anybody.
There are a lot of women who have experienced what I did, but not in the public. So it made it really difficult. I just felt like, oh, my god, here goes my little bit of privacy just exposed like something that nobody wants anybody to know. So here I am, the whole world knowing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Yours, Mary Murphy, did not affect your privacy? You were not known then. You were young.
MARY MURPHY, REALITY TV JUDGE, "SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE": No. This is so completely different with Rihanna because she is so in the public eye at the time that it happened and the whole world saw her beaten face to a pulp and left on the side of the road unconscious. It is really different. I think it was so hard and I think she was forced to pretty much come out and talk so quickly about it. You know, and it couldn't have been easy. She's very brave.
KING: Do you think worse for her than for you, or apples and oranges?
MURPHY: Maybe apples and oranges, but I feel for her because of it being so public. I'm just grateful, too, that she got out of the situation. When I first heard she was going back to him, I completely understood. I completely understood.
DENISE BROWN, SISTER OF NICOLE BROWN SIMPSON, & DOMESTIC ABUSE ADVOCATE: Did you do the same thing? Is that why?
MURPHY: Oh, yes. I went back many times. You want to believe. When you are in love with someone, that's what makes this very different.
BROWN: That is true. That is what it is, hope, shame and fear. The hope that things get the way it used to be when your relationship was wonderful, the shame of not wanting anyone to know. That is what Rihanna was going through. I saw her interview this morning. It was brilliant. I thought she did a world of good for these teenage girls coming out and saying what she said. I thought, yes. She's ready. Otherwise, she wouldn't have done it. I don't think she was pressured into doing it. I think she was truly ready to come out and say it. And the fear. The fear of where am I going to go.
KING: Do you think your sister -- you knew about your sister being hit, right?
BROWN: No. Not until we read her notes and diaries after she was murdered.
KING: Didn't know?
KING: One more clip from Rihanna. She said she felt ashamed about what happened with Chris Brown. Diane Sawyer asked her why. Here is how she answered.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RIHANNA: I didn't want people to think that's the kind of person -- I fell in love with that person. That's embarrassing. That's embarrassing that that's the type of person that I fell in love with, so far in love, so unconditional that I went back.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We'll get Robin's thoughts and the other panelists as well right after this.
KING: Robin, what did you make of what Rihanna had to say?
GIVENS: I completely understand. I think it is so still new to her. I can hear it in the sound of her voice. I completely understand. What begins to happen or what begins instantly is you feel so embarrassed. You do take it on as your own. You become determined -- I did -- to fix this. If you fix this person, you are fixing the choice you made to love this person.
Another thing that happens, I don't know what happened to her, but you immediately, when you make the choice to go back, there is like a chunk of you that is chipped away. and the numbness begins. So what is so interesting about listen to her or Mary -- and Denise Brown and I have done work together before. This happens to all women. It's the same symptoms. Everybody feels the same shame and embarrassment. I love that she said, "This happened to me. I did not cause this." That is what all of us have to remember as survivors of domestic violence.
A few weeks after the February incident, Rihanna and Chris Brown were back spending time together. She took a lot of criticism for that. Diane asked her about that. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RIHANNA: I'm a human being. And people put me on a very unrealistic pedestal. And all these expectations -- I'm not perfect. Also it's pretty natural for that to be the first reaction. It's completely normal to go back. You start lying to yourself. The minute the physical wounds go away -- you want this thing to go away. This is a memory you don't want to have ever again.
(END VIDEO CLIP) KING: You are nodding your head, Mary, because you went back, right?
MURPHY: Yes. And it's been a long time for me, but there are things in your life that trigger it, and it comes back fresh. and getting my story out has just -- everything is back to the surface. It is like raw. It is right under my skin again. Fear, even. Like I've said before, it's not easy and it's not something that you want to talk about either.
But I agree with what Robin said, you have to talk about it. You have to scream about it. It has got to end in this country. It is way out of control.
KING: Chris Brown, Denise, was on this show. I asked him about his reaction to the photos of his former girlfriend's battered face. Here is what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS BROWN, RECORDING ARTIST: I first saw it like maybe a week after the incident. I think TMZ posted it. But I first say it, yes.
KING: What did you think?
BROWN: I didn't know what to think at the time. I was like, what. At the time, I didn't know honestly what to think. I didn't know if the pictures were altered. I didn't know if they were real. Man, I felt so disappointed in myself.
KING: You accepted the fact that you caused it.
BROWN: I accepted the fact. Yes.
KING: When you look at it six months later, you have a different reaction?
BROWN: When I look at it now, it's like, wow, I can't believe that actually happened. It is really like took a toll on me. I was like, wow.
KING: Do you understand him, Denise, or not?
BROWN: I do. Because a lot of times when abusers do something like this, they always seem to put it on to somebody else. He said, he didn't know if it was altered or not. It is a typical response. It really is. It is somebody else's fault. It's always somebody else's fault.
But I have to say something. Chris came from the cycle of domestic violence. His mother even said on your show she was a victim of domestic violence and it was a cycle that continued and continued. What Chris has to do and what the mother has to do -- she didn't think it affected Chris or it could ever affect Chris. I remember her saying that as well. I thought wait a minute. Let me sit down and speak with this woman because that is the cycle of violence that needs to be broken. That is what we are talking about, that cycle of power and control, of the verbal, emotional psychological abuse, chipping away of one's self-esteem. like what happened to Rihanna. She was embarrassed. They were chipping away at her self esteem.
KING: By the way, Mary Murphy was a guest on last Sunday's show.
We spoke to her ex-husband and he strongly denied ever -- any of the allegations you made. According to him he never harmed you in any way. You deny what he said.
For more information on domestic abuse, go cnn.com/larryking. Back in 60 seconds.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PAMELA ANDERSON, ACTRESS: I think at some point you really lose all your self esteem and it is scary to think you are going to be on your own because a lot of the abuse stems from them trying to control you and be the powerful person and you feel weak. And it's scary. The hardest thing I ever did in my life was leave Tommy in that situation.
TINA TURNER, RECORDING ARTIST: I realize I wasn't appreciated no matter that I was staying because I was paying a debt of being loyal or whatever. It was getting worse and I realized it also wasn't helping by staying there.
HALLE BERRY, ACTRESS: I loved him so much I think on some level and desperately wanted a father. But having him come back into our home and being very violent and being an alcoholic and abusing my mother and my sister, but never me. I think I grew up with a lot of guilt.
MINDY MCCREADY, COUNTRY MUSIC RECORDING ARTIST: I loved him. I just loved him. I missed him terribly even though he did terrible things to me. The relationship was tumultuous. It is amazing how you can forget such terrible things so easily, even when they are still fresh in your mind, and try to remember the good things.
KING: By the way, happy to tell you, Mary Murphy makes her Broadway debut, one night only on December 22nd, in "Burn the Floor." Proceeds go to ccssd.org, which works to treat and prevent relationship violence.
Here is another clip from Chris Brown, when I asked him if he thought he lost his temper and became violent toward her, from that occurrence. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: Just in relationships, in general, there's a chance you lose your temper, or like arguments get heated or whatever the case may be. But I'm not saying domestic violence is a part of a relationship. I feel like that just -- we're young. We're both young. So nobody taught us how to love one another. Nobody taught us a book on how to control our emotions or our anger. So it is like I'm -- I'm not trying to fall on the fact that I'm young. I'm just saying there are a lot of stuff I wish I could have changed that night.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Robin, you dealt with temper, did you not, with Mike?
GIVENS: Oh, yes. I dealt with temper. I have to say that, you know, I was around the same age as Rihanna. Mike was around the same age as Chris Brown. Being young is no excuse for this. I recently heard him talk about "We were young." That is no excuse. We, as a society, can't allow these excuses.
You know, I had Michael give an interview some time after our divorce saying the best punch he ever threw was against me. And that he watched he bounce off the walls. This is unacceptable. We have to have a very firm line in the sand. A man cannot hit a woman. It is inexcusable.
KING: Age doesn't matter.
We'll be right back, and Dr. Gale Saltz will join us. Don't go away.
KING: Psychiatrist and best-selling author, Dr. Gale Saltz, joins our panel. Later, Barack Obama's brother will be with us.
Gale, domestic violence, one, is it curable? Can you take someone prone to violence and stop them from it?
DR. GALE SALTZ, PSYCHIATRIST & AUTHOR: It is really very difficult to treat. It is treatable. There are definitely men who -- and as been pointed out, they have usually grown up in homes where there has been domestic violence. And that's where they learn this. But it happens at a young age and it is embedded. You have to really be able to be honest with yourself about what is going on to begin treatment. And treatment takes a long time. Someone very committed, someone willing to suffer in the meantime, because it is painful to have a shot.
KING: Mary, do you agree?
MURPHY: You know, I don't know that much about...
KING: What happens after.
MURPHY: ... if someone can repair anything, because I have never been involved with anybody that I have seen go to counseling and stop the cycle. I'm sure it's possible. Like she said, if somebody works hard enough, I think anything's possible.
KING: You think so, Denise?
BROWN: Yes. Yes, I do. I think -- in our court system right now there are 52 weeks of batter treatment program mandated through courts if you get arrested. There is nothing that I know of that's voluntary for somebody to go into, to go and join one of those batter treatment programs. But I do believe it takes a lot longer than 52 weeks. I had spoken to a man who really works with batterers. He says it probably takes about three years to change that mindset around.
KING: Isn't Mike Tyson pretty much OK now, to your knowledge, Robin?
GIVENS: I have no idea. I have no idea what he does at home. I only know what happened with me.
KING: In talking to Diane Sawyer about going back to Chris Brown, Rihanna indicated she rethought it, in part, because of the impact it might have on others. Watch this and I will have Dr. Saltz comment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RIHANNA: When I realized that my selfish decision for love could result into some young girl getting killed, I could not -- I could not be easy with that part. I couldn't be held responsible for telling them "Go back." If Chris never hit me again, who is to say their boyfriend won't? Who is to say they won't kill these girls.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Dr. Saltz, young people around the world affected by this, aren't they?
SALTZ: Absolutely. They were tremendously affected by this when it happened. They were listening to many different messages, including, as she's pointing out, the message that she went back. So really I commend her for stepping up now because, in fact, girls do look up to people like Rihanna as role models and emulate them. It is brave of her to acknowledge that that brings a responsibility, that along with the fun and the gifts of being a celebrity, is the responsibility that young girls look up to her. They will follow their lead. She put their needs to some degree in front of her needs at the moment, maybe to take her time, to take more time, to her desires to do something that wasn't good for her. In the meantime, she saved herself as well quite honestly. I think it is a very brave and important move.
GIVENS: It is interesting when you have these men, O.J. Simpson, Michael Tyson, Chris Brown, who are heroes. I mean, Michael -- I know, when I was married to him. I know it happened to me. I know it happened to people around me, that later went on to be in prison for rape. We later watched him bite Evander Holyfield's ear off. But we still, with our heroes, want to kind of have this sort of white out where we make -- we just want everything to be OK. I think it is difficult to look at certain realities. And I think what she did that was so commendable was to force us to look at reality, and own up to the responsibility in that young people were looking up to her. I commend her immensely for that.
KING: Mary, it took you years to come forward, right?
KING: She probably did a good thing coming forward sooner, didn't she?
MURPHY: She absolutely did, the best thing not only for herself, but like Robin said, for thousands and thousands of young girls. And not just young girls, there are women of all ages right now going through the same thing. Honestly, it was Rihanna too that got my juices going when I saw her face, is when everything started to bubble up inside of me again and to come forward.
KING: By the way, if you need help or know someone who does, go to CNN.com/Larryking. We have information and links for you there.
We'll be right back.
KING: Denise Brown, do you think Nicole Simpson should have come forward, talked about it more?
BROWN: I don't think it was anything -- it wasn't talked about as much then, 15 years ago, as it is now. There weren't even laws in place that police could come in and arrest somebody, either one person or the other. There were no laws like that in place. It all happened after Nicole was murdered, where it was put into the spotlight of it can happen to anybody. Because people used to think that it happened to the poor. It happened to homeless people. People didn't think it would happen to affluent people. It was after Nicole's murder that a lot of laws were changed, the Violence against Women Act was passed, which funds a lot of the shelters and law enforcement. A lot of it happened after that. There was not that much that, you know, that could be done then.
KING: Chris Brown did an interview with "MTV News" about the abuse episode and its aftermath, and was asked about how the public views him now. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: How do you think people see you?
BROWN: I'm confused right now as far as the public perception. I think with my fans, they still love me. They support me. But definitely, definitely, you have those people that don't support you. It is like kind of 50/50. I have the people who will come out and support me and then you've got the people that don't want to see me do anything. They want to see me basically in jail.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Robin, do you think Mike Tyson has overcome the incident? Do you think people view him differently?
GIVENS: I don't know. It was more than an incident. It is something that has taken me years to recover from. But whether he went on to go to prison or his encounter with Holyfield. The thing is I lived with that man. I lived with that man that bit Holyfield's ear off. It was frightening in my house. So do I hope that he's changed? Of course. Do I want him to live a good life? Of course. Do I think that we should hold Chris accountable, Chris Brown? Absolutely. Can he change? I hope so.
But, you know, with our heroes, these people that are in the spotlight, they are good at what they do, but they are not necessarily great men of great character, you know.
KING: Dr. Saltz, do you -- this age old question. I'll ask it again. Why do they stay?
SALTZ: You know, to some degree, it starts with why they were drawn in the first place. There are often issues of self-esteem to begin with and a co-dependency to begin with. Usually, there has been a systematic breaking down of this woman's confidence, her esteem, her belief in herself, so that by the time the violence is happening, she has been made to feel guilty. She has already been isolated. She is frightened. And so she is weak and vulnerable. And therefore, highly likely to return because she feels somehow she must have done something or she can fix this in some way, and doesn't want to go through the pain and the loss, because it is very, very scary.
I also have to tell you, Larry, it is mostly happening to women, but we shouldn't leave out that sometimes it goes the other way. There are women that abuse their husbands. That is even quieter and even more shameful and it's even harder for men to step out of the shadows and say that they're victims of domestic violence.
KING: Denise, you're going to say something?
BROWN: I wanted to say something. I wish they would turn that question around. Instead of you saying, Why did they stay, it's like, Why do they hit?; Why do they abuse?; Why do they batter?; Why do they have to put that person down?
Why don't we turn it around and get it off the victim and put it on the perpetrator where it really belongs? That is really where we need to get to as a society.
KING: Who is clapping?
BROWN: Who is clapping?
ROBIN GIVENS, SPOKESMAN, NATIONAL DOMESTIC VIOLENCE HOTLINE: That's me. That's me clapping. Sorry. That's me. You know I agree.
KING: I tell you why that occurred. A famous psychiatrist once said to me - and I wonder how you would all react to this - he said, "If you come home at night -- you are a man -- and your wife hits you with a lamp, and you come home the second night and she hits you with a lamp, and you come home the third night, and she hits you with a lamp, on the fourth night, if you come home, who is nuts?"
KING: So that we relate to. If you are hit all the time, granted, the hitter is wrong. Again, why do you come back to get punched?
MARY MURPHY, DOMESTIC ABUSE SURVIVOR: First of all, there is this whole pattern of courtship and falling in love, and you don't even see these symptoms often until you get married or shortly thereafter.
So there is a history, and then the first time that it happens, it is such a shock and you are devastated and you are ashamed, and you can't believe you allowed this to happen. And then there is the honeymoon period, where this person comes back and tells you, "Oh, I am so sorry. It will never happen again. Let's go off on a vacation. Let's do this together. I swear. I just care about you."
And then they minimalize it: "Oh, it really wasn't nothing. It really wasn't nothing."
KING: By the way, there are some inspiring and supportive words from the CEO of the National Domestic Violence Hotline. Go to cnn.com/LarryKing, click on "blog" to read what she wrote just for us.
Back with some more moments with this panel and then Barack Obama's brother.
KING: We are back. During her ABC interview, Rihanna offered some very tough advice about dealing with domestic abuse. Here's what she said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RIHANNA: I'll say that to any young girl who is going through domestic violence: Don't react off of love -- "F" love -- to come out of the situation and look at it third person, and for what it really is, and then make your decision because love is so blind.
KING: Robin, you agree?
GIVENS: I do agree. I do agree, and I can't believe that she seems so clear so soon, and I'm happy for her. But it is exactly what Mary said. It is just not a matter of hitting all the time. There is a courtship. There is a sense of love, as Rihanna said, but also the isolation.
That person -- what is interesting is nobody understands your situation better than the person that is inflicting you the harm, causing you the harm. So there is almost this sense of intimacy. I know it might sound strange -- and also what the doctor said, what has drawn us to the situation to begin with.
I'm embarrassed -- talk about embarrassed - I'm embarrassed every time I have to admit to myself the first time Michael hit me, which is the time he talks about, you know, I did the right thing. I didn't take his calls for a few days -- and when he finally did - I let him come over, and he is crying on my lap, and I thought - I didn't grow up with my father - I thought, well, this man must really love me.
And that began our cycle - the hitting, the dragging you down the hall and then the crying and my consoling him. It is - I am proud that Rihanna is out sooner than later.
BROWN: They turn it around. They turn it around, don't they, Robin? I mean, here you are consoling...
GIVENS: Yes, completely turn it around. That's right.
BROWN: ... the guy who just beat you to a pulp, and - they -- yes, they constantly turn this thing around that it is your fault.
KING: They are good at it.
BROWN: They are very good at it. They are very manipulative.
KING: Did you have that, Mary?
MURPHY: Yes, and your self-esteem keeps - like someone said earlier -- eroding time after time, so all of a sudden it's just like it only takes that little bit of crumb of some positiveness, even if it is after getting hit. It is the hope that things are going to change.
KING: Gail Saltz, other than the apparent fact that they were violently treated themselves, have we had a definitive study of the violent person?
SALTZ: You know, that is a vast territory - the "violent person." There are just so many different kinds of violence. But, you know, when you look at domestic violence...
SALTZ: ... Yes. You are usually talking about somebody who has -- as has been brought up -- has been involved in a cycle of violence from a young age. Usually there has been abuse of either one spouse toward the other or parent to child. This person has been abused themselves - that is very common - has been abused themselves as a child.
And, unfortunately, you know, aggression simply begets aggression. It just teaches violence as the solution to intense, overwhelming feelings that that person cannot contain. That is why it is so difficult to break.
KING: We don't know what is happening in homes all over the world tonight, but do you think you have made progress, Denise? Do you think...
BROWN: Oh, yes...
KING: ... there is less domestic violence than five years ago? BROWN: No, no. It is not that there is less, because now with the job - or with the economy the way it is, and with the way things are happening right now -- people losing jobs, people losing homes -- no, domestic violence is escalating because there are situations that are happening. There are 911 calls...
SALTZ: Financial - yes.
BROWN: ... There are hotlines getting more phone calls right now because of the financial stresses upon people.
But you know what, things will turn around, and here in California alone, we had six shelters close because the governor cut 100 percent of the funding a while ago, and then he just reinstated some of that as well.
So, yes, some of them were able to stay open or possibly even re-open, but that is just for a year. That is just putting a Band-Aid on something. You know, what we need to do is we really need to strategize, and we need to come together, and we need to work together -- all these organizations -- and that is what we are trying to do with the Nicole Brown Foundation, with the national network, the coalition, and the 24-hour hotline -- to get together and have some uniformity.
KING: Thank you all very much, Dr Gail Saltz, Denise Brown, Mary Murphy, Robin Givens. Coming up, President Obama's half brother, and we will be back in 60 seconds.
KING: It is a pleasure to welcome to LARRY KING LIVE, coming to us from Hong Kong, Mark Obama Ndesandjo. He is President Obama's half- brother. He has just published a new autobiographical novel, "Nairobi to Shenzhen."
Mark, you have kept out of the spotlight for so long. Why now?
OBAMA NDESANDJO: What happened is, that over the past few years, with the extraordinary events, I had come to a sort of re-evaluation of many things in my life which were very moving - and things which I had shut out of my life for a long time started to come together.
You know, I think sometimes -- I hear your question, and I go back, and I think sometimes I hear as, you know, "What prepared you for writing this book?" or "Where does this book come from?"
And sometimes you ask yourself, "Why? Why now?" And I think life prepares you for -- life prepared me for this book. I have lived in -- I have been through so many experiences. I have lived in China, in America. I was raised in Kenya.
And coming from a multiracial family, also being exposed to different religions, different people -- and I think what happens is when you write a book, certain things - you think -- I started this book actually 10 years ago.
And at that time it didn't -- there were things that were not true, that did not seem to come together. And then, I think what happens in every person's life, there's a point when things come together and you just know that it's time to -- it's time to finish the book, and it's time to actually have something...
KING: I got you.
NDESANDJO: ... that you can call your own.
KING: Mark, as your brother related in his memoir "Dreams From My Father," President Obama's life was shaped by his father's absence and impressions he formed of him from others. You have the same father.
Barack Obama was asked about this in a Q & A with students in September. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My name is Brandon. I was wondering, you said that your father wasn't really in your life. That is kind of like me. My parents were divorced.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Right.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But how do you think your life would have been different if he would have been there for you?
PRESIDENT OBAMA: He was a very, very smart man. He was sort of arrogant and kind of overbearing, and he had his own problems and his own issues. So my mother always used to say that if he had been around, I probably would have been having a lot of arguments with him all the time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Since your book obviously deals -- while a novel -- with things that happened in real life, as you have already explained, first, do you talk to your brother, the president, a lot?
NDESANDJO: Let me just share with you one thing, and that is -- getting back to your question, what I just heard. I think one thing is that I heard the boy ask about my father, and it was interesting -- it was good to hear, you know.
This is the first time I had actually heard that particular clip. But it makes me think -- it makes me think of the book and the focus, you know, the focus of my thoughts right now have really been around the book. And I just wanted to share really quickly, Larry, with your audience that the focus of the book is not so much my brother Barack. It's not so much me. The novel is a work of fiction.
The three messages that I really wanted to bring out in this book is to raise an awareness of domestic violence -- but not just that -- also the power and the beauty of a very American dream of being able to start from scratch. You've lost your job, you don't know where you're going, and you can actually start again.
And the third one that I really hope this book can actually bring out is the power and the spirit of service, the ability to volunteer and to actually spend five minutes --not just talk about it -- but actually do something.
These are three messages that -- regardless of the reflections of my life or of my brother's life or of my family's life -- these are the important things, and that is what I wanted to share.
I think one thing is that I'm in contact with not just my brother, but also my family. And -- but I think these themes are not just about the Obama family. The goal was really to share this -- these are themes which run across all countries, across all regions, all religions.
And the important thing is that for a long time I put a lot of things in my mind. I closed them out, and this could be -- maybe it is a cultural thing. Maybe it is -- maybe there are other reasons, but I think what happens is that I know that when I was a child -- and I am speaking for myself, and once again, the novel is a work of fiction -- is that I encountered things that I did not want anyone else to encounter. And I hope that will work into a global message.
For the audience, the book is a novel, and it is a novel based -- which has strong parallels with my life and my experiences.
KING: Hold it right there, Mark. Let me get a break, and we will come right back. We will talk about domestic violence in your life. First, this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NDESANDJO: My father beat me. He beat my mother. You just do not do that. I shut these thoughts in the back of my mind for many years.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Since our program, Mark Ndesandjo, is dealing a lot with domestic violence tonight, can you describe -- and obviously your brother felt some of it, as he discussed his father -- what the impact has been on you.
NDESANDJO: Let me -- I guess one thing I would like to share, Larry, is that, just to recap a little bit, my life has always been about self-expression, whether it is through music, calligraphy, writing, and so forth.
And as I have been writing all through my life, there are certain things that I never really came to terms with -- and we talk about the themes of domestic violence. A lot of times people don't want to talk about some of these things, but at some point in a man's life there are things that sometimes are extraordinary situations that occur. It could be the death of someone who is close to you. It could be a loss of a job. It could be an extraordinary political movement where people move from fear towards hope, as happened in the last few years. And then you start to re-evaluate your life.
Now, I remember...
KING: And the effect on you was what?
NDESANDJO: I remember - I remember when I was growing up in Kenya, that - I remember my - I remember times when I would wake up in the morning, and I would -- it would be about 2 or 3 in the morning -- and, you know, when you're -- when you're a child -- this is one reason I don't very much like to do interviews, by the way, recently.
But one of the things is that when you are a child, and you wake up -- you're maybe 6 or 7 years old -- and you wake up and it's 2 or 3 in the morning, and you hear thuds, and you hear screams, and you hear your mother shouting.
This is your mother. This is the person who -- who is the closest person to you in the world. When you hear that, and you -- you see the light. There's like a golden -- the light of the lamp in the living room, and you hear thuds -- and I have mentioned this before in the interviews -- and you can't protect your mother, this is the sort of thing that you don't - you see, the thing is, when you're a child -- I'm not talking about a child who is maybe 12 or 13 years old or a 20-year-old, but when you're -- when you're a child and you're -- you're in an environment which doesn't talk about these things, or maybe -- maybe in an environment where you are an outsider because, in many cases, as a multiracial child, you know, you're black, too black for some people. You're too white for others.
And the only person who understands you is your mother. Now, this is true for any -- any child, really. But there is a bond between a child and its mother, and I found out that -- I found out that in many ways because I didn't get the love or the support -- I got the love from one parent -- but because my father had many problems -- as my brother said, he was a brilliant man but my mother used to say that "He was a brilliant man, Mark, but he was a social failure."
KING: Let me get a break, Mark. Hold it. Let me pick right up in a minute.
KING: The book is - the book, by the way, is "From Nairobi to Shenzhen." The guest is Mark Obama Ndesandjo, the half-brother to the President of the United States. More in a moment.
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PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: This isn't an obligation. This is a privilege -- to be a father.
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PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Any fool can have a child. That doesn't make you a father. It's the courage to raise a child that makes you a father.
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PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Responsibility for our children's education must begin at home. That is not a Democratic issue or a Republican issue. That is an American issue.
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KING: Mark, I am really looking forward to reading the book. We have limited time left on the satellite. So, your brother reflected on his youth during a 2008 forum with Pastor Rick Warren. Here is some of what he said, and then I want you to comment.
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PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: I had a difficult youth. My father wasn't in the house -- I have written about this -- and there were times where I experimented with drugs. I drank in my teenage years. And what I trace this to is a certain selfishness on my part. I was so obsessed with me and the reasons that I might be dissatisfied that I couldn't focus on other people.
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KING: Mark, have you and your brother discussed your father with each other?
NDESANDJO: I want to just get back to one issue, and that is that my brother talked about having a difficulty in terms of relating to people, and I think this is very true, because what happens is that when you are in such situations, your skin -- you become hardened to emotional attachments to people.
And in the book, while the book is an autobiography -- excuse me, is a novel that is semi-autobiographical -- it has strong parallels with my father, with my mother, with me, and also my grandmother.
Now, I just wanted to say that what happens is that sometimes -- because you're not able to connect with other people, you do things which are very strange -- for example, when you fall in love. In the story there is a character called David, and he falls in love with Spring.
And what happens is that they butt against each other; they seem to break apart. And it's because of dumb emotion and dumb emotion. And then what happens is that David discovers his father's diary.
Now, I have not discussed my father with -- with Barack, but I do know that we have had similar thoughts, and we have had similar -- I think similar reflections on certain things, but I -- Barack and I never had the benefit of a diary which could explain the fullness of, for example, my father.
I thought my father was just a bad man for a long, long time, and I shut a lot of things out of my life. And then what happened is that I felt that there had to be good in him. There had to be good in him - and so I wrote this diary in my book because that would fill out the good parts.
I learned that my father lost his mother at a very early age, and I started to think, "Mark, maybe this affected him." But it's because I believed that there is good in all of us that I started to write this novel.
KING: OK, and I'm anxious to read it. Mark Obama Ndesandjo, thank you so much. The book is "From Nairobi to Shenzhen."