Statue of Barack Obama as a child in a parc in Jakarta, the Indonesian capital. Image posted on Facebook.
Barack Obama said it was “wonderful” but “a little disorientating” to be back in Indonesia, a country he spent four years in as a schoolboy, for his first official visit as US president. One of his old schoolmates remembers the boy Indonesians know as ‘little Barry’.
Obama, who lived in the capital Jakarta with his mother and Indonesian stepfather as a child between 1967 and 1971, said he could hardly recognise the teeming, modern city. Speaking at a press conference after talks with Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, he said he had "great affection for the people" of the mainly Muslim south-east Asian country. "Obviously I have a sister who is half Indonesian, my mother lived and worked here for a long time, so the sights and the sounds and the memories all feel very familiar," he said.
Nevertheless, the president was forced to shorten his whirlwind visit to his childhood home by two hours due to fears that volcanic ash spewing from Mount Metapi volcano in central Java, which has recently plagued aviation in the region, could ground his flight.
The US embassy invited 26 of Obama’s former classmates to hear him speak at the University of Indonesia. They say they clearly remember a tall, slightly chubby boy they called “Barry”.
The two metre high statue bears a sign that reads : "The future belongs to those who believe in the power of their dreams".