Obama half-brother plays Jazz for Shenzhen fundraiser

SHENZHEN, CHINA: A fundraiser last night in Shenzhen featured a unique jazz pianist: Barack Obama’s half-brother.

As I have detailed in the past – and on this profile page about Mark Ndesandjo – Obama’s half-brother has lived in the south China boomtown city of Shenzhen for more than seven years.

The event was organized by the American Chamber of Commerce in South China to benefit Orphans in Shenzhen, South China and Sichuan via The China Foundation for Poverty Alleviation. The China Foundation is sanctioned by both the Chinese Central Government and the United Nations, according to the AmCham.

Ndesandjo is co-chair of the fundraising committee, along with the AmCham president, Harley Seyedin.

Entry was RMB99 (US$14) at the door for an evening of food, drink, great music and a chance to meet the US Consul General and community leaders. Attendees were urged to donate an additional 999 RMB (US$145).

Ndesandjo did not work to publicize his link with Obama in the email or poster publicity. He has worked to support an orphanage in Shenzhen for many years and has never pushed for recognition as Obama’s half-brother.

Ndesandjo started a chain of restaurants in southern China called Cabin BBQ and the publicity for the fundraiser referred to him as a strategic market consultant. This is a reference to his company, World Nexus, that helps Chinese companies set up websites for export.

At the concert, Ndesandjo had “a thin mustache, shaved head and a gold stud in his left earlobe,” the AP reported.

Any mention of Barack Obama?

He told the crowd that chamber president, Harley Seyedin, was fond of the president-elect. Ndesandjo added, “I like my president, too!” That was the closest he came to mentioning Barack Obama.

He also said that would be flying to Washington on Saturday, failing which he would “lose face”.

He played – at times hunched over the keyboard in passion – as his Chinese wife watched, the AP reported. The songs he played began with a Chinese tune called “Liuyang River” followed by what he said was “Chopin’s First Nocturne” and finally a jazz tune by Fats Waller called “Viper’s Drag.”

The event raised a grand total of RMB250,000 (US$36,558).

After the charity event, Ndesandjo chatted with friends and shook hands as he slowly walked out of the venue pursued by journalists hoping for a comment. He slipped into an elevator and continued to ignore questions as the door slowly closed, AP said.

UPDATE: Brent Deverman of Shenzhenparty.com attended the party and took some great photos (two of which appear above.)

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  1. Glad to know that there are new inroads to the heart of the Chinese market. Arts and Culture make better bridges than politics, I have always believed in it.

  2. Gabby

    Fascinating Thomas. Simply fascinating. I am very pleased to know about your work. Additionally, it is wonderful to know about Mark's contributions where orphans are concerned and I say this from first hand experience because I was an orphan in Germany, post WWII. I like your style.

  3. Ms.Carol Bautista

    At least they all inherited the late Barack Obama's Sr.talent.Their father was an exceptionally gifted and honest human being.
    bravo Mark.
    We love the President too.

  4. Ms.Carol Bautista

    They are oh so gifted and talented these children of the late brainy and honest Mr.Barack Obama Sr.
    You've got wonderful children,wow,a President and a pianist speaking Chinese guy!!
    Bravo Obamas.

  5. Ms.Carol Bautista

    The talented Obamas,my gosh,a brother who speaks fluent Chinese and write in Chinese,as well as an accomplished pianist!!!
    Wow the more I adore our President Bam.

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  7. The good thing about Mark Ndesandjo is that he is not using his half brothers name in order to be famous, although he never intended to be famous his good deeds are pretty remarkable and deserves an acknowledgment.

  8. The good thing about Mark Ndesandjo is that he is not using his half brothers name in order to be famous, although he never intended to be famous his good deeds are pretty remarkable and deserves an acknowledgment.