Lolo Soetoro

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Lolo Soetoro
Lolo Soetoro in 1971
Born (1935-01-02)January 2, 1935
Bandung, West Java, Dutch East Indies
Died March 2, 1987(1987-03-02) (aged 52)
Jakarta, Indonesia
Cause of death Liver failure
Nationality Indonesia
Alma mater Gadjah Mada University
University of Hawaii at Manoa
Occupation Geographer
Governmental relations
Employer Government of Indonesia
Union Oil Company
Spouse(s) Ann Dunham (married 1965–1980)
Erna Kustina
Children Maya Kassandra Soetoro-Ng
Yusuf Aji Soetoro
Rahayu Nurmaida Soetoro
Barack Obama (step-son)

Lolo Soetoro, also known as Lolo Soetoro Mangunharjo[1][2] or Mangundikardjo[3] (EYD: Lolo Sutoro) (Javanese: [ˈlɒlɒ suːˈtɒrɒː]; January 2, 1935[4] − March 2, 1987), was the Indonesian step-father of Barack Obama, the 44th President of the United States.[5]

Early life and education

Born in Bandung, West Java, Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia), Soetoro was the ninth of ten children of Martodihardjo, who was employee of mining office from Yogyakarta.[4] Soetoro's father and eldest brother were killed during the Indonesian National Revolution, when Indonesia won independence from the Dutch, and the Dutch army burned the family's home. Soetoro fled with his mother to the countryside.[6]

Soetoro earned his bachelor's degree in geography from Gadjah Mada University, in Yogyakarta.[4] In 1962, Soetoro, then a civilian employee of the Indonesian Army Topographic Service, obtained an East-West Center grant for graduate study in geography at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.[7] He arrived in Honolulu in September 1962 and graduated from the university with a M.A. in geography in June 1964.[8]

Marriage to Ann Dunham

After living in Seattle, Washington, with her infant son Barack from September 1961 to June 1962 while taking classes at the University of Washington, Ann Dunham returned to Honolulu and resumed her undergraduate education at the University of Hawaii in January 1963.[9] In January 1964 she filed for divorce[10] from her estranged husband, Barack Obama Sr., who had left Hawaii in June 1962 to pursue graduate study at Harvard University.[11]

Soetoro and Dunham met at the East-West Center while both were students at the University of Hawaii.[10][12][13] Soetoro and Dunham married in Hawaii on March 15, 1965.[13][14] Soetoro, a geographer,[13][15] returned to Indonesia in 1966,[16] to help map Western New Guinea[11] for the Indonesian government, while Dunham and her son moved into her parents' house in Honolulu to complete her studies at the University of Hawaii;[17] she earned a B.A. in anthropology in 1967.[18] Her son attended kindergarten from 1966 to 1967 at Noelani Elementary School in Honolulu.[17][19]

In 1967, Dunham and her six-year-old son moved to Jakarta to rejoin Soetoro.[20] The reunited family initially lived in a new modest stucco and red tile house at 16 Kyai Haji Ramli Tengah Street in a newly built neighborhood in the Menteng Dalam administrative village of the Tebet subdistrict in South Jakarta for two and a half years,[20][21][22] and owned a new Japanese motorcycle.[23] From January 1968 to December 1969, Dunham taught English and was an assistant director of the Lembaga Persahabatan Indonesia Amerika (LIA)–the Indonesia-America Friendship Institute–which was subsidized by U.S. government.[24] Obama attended the Indonesian-language Santo Fransiskus Asisi (St. Francis of Assisi) Catholic School around the corner from their house for 1st, 2nd, and part of 3rd grade.[20][21][22]

In 1970, with his financial situation improved by a new job in government relations[25] at Union Oil Company,[4][11][13] Soetoro moved his family two miles north to a rented house at 22 Taman Amir Hamzah Street in the Matraman Dalam neighborhood in the Pegangsaan administrative village of the Menteng subdistrict in Central Jakarta,[20][22] with a car replacing their motorcycle.[26] From January 1970 to August 1972, Dunham taught English and was a department head and a director of the Lembaga Pendidikan dan Pengembangan Manajemen (LPPM)–the Institute of Management Education and Development.[24] Obama attended the Indonesian-language government-run Besuki School one and a half miles east in the exclusive Menteng administrative village of the Menteng subdistrict for part of 3rd grade and for 4th grade.[20][21][22]

In mid-1970, between 3rd and 4th grades at the Besuki School, Obama spent the summer in Hawaii with his grandparents, Stanley and Madelyn Dunham, and interviewed for admission to the Punahou School in Honolulu.[27] On August 15, 1970, Soetoro and Dunham had a daughter, Maya Kassandra Soetoro.[28][29]

In mid-1971, Obama moved back to Hawaii to live with his grandparents and attend Punahou School starting in 5th grade.[30] A year later, in August 1972, Dunham, with the help of her employer (LPPM), obtained an Asia Foundation grant to begin graduate study in anthropology at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.[24][31] She and her daughter moved back to Hawaii where they rejoined Obama.[24][31]

Dunham completed her coursework at the University of Hawaii for a M.A. in anthropology in December 1974,[18] and after three years in Hawaii, returned with her daughter to Jakarta in 1975 to complete her contract with LPPM and do anthropological field work.[24][31] Obama chose to stay with his grandparents in Hawaii to continue attending Punahou School for high school.[32] In 1976, Dunham and her daughter moved to Yogyakarta, living for half a year with Soetoro's 76-year-old mother.[31]

During their years in Indonesia, Dunham became increasingly interested in the country's culture, while Soetoro became more interested in Western culture,[10] and their relationship was in conflict over differing values.[33] Their divorce became final on November 6, 1980.[10]

In his 1995 memoir Dreams from My Father, Obama described Soetoro as well-mannered, even-tempered, and easy with people; he wrote of the struggles he felt Soetoro had to deal with after his return to Indonesia from Hawaii.[34] He described his stepfather as following "a brand of Islam that could make room for the remnants of more ancient animist and Hindu faiths."[35][36] In a 2007 article, Chicago Tribune foreign correspondent Kim Barker reported that Soetoro "was much more of a free spirit than a devout Muslim, according to former friends and neighbors."[20]

Later life

Soetoro married Erna Kustina in 1980 and had two children, a son, Yusuf Aji Soetoro (born 1981), and daughter, Rahayu Nurmaida Soetoro (born 1987).[37]

Soetoro died, age 52, on March 2, 1987, of liver failure,[28][35] and was buried in Tanah Kusir Cemetery, South Jakarta.


  1. Asydhad, Arifin (2006-07-06). "Jejak Barack Obama: suka pramuka, sering bagi cokelat (Barack Obama impression: scouts like, frequently for chocolate)" (in Indonesian). Jakarta: (a web portal founded in 1998 by Abdul Rahman and Budiono Darsono as part of PT Agranet Multicitra Siberkom (PT Agrakom)—an Internet startup company founded in 1995). Retrieved 2008-11-11.CS1 maint: unrecognized language (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> Google Translate's English translation
  2. . (2008). "Lolo Soetoro Mangunharjo". Lisbon: Retrieved 2008-06-19.CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Oraw, Nirina (citizen journalist) (2007-01-25). "Barry Soetoro calon Presiden AS (U.S. Presidential candidate Barry Obama)". (in Indonesian). Alphen aan den Rijn, The Netherlands: Yayasan Peduli Indonesia (Care Foundation Indonesia). Retrieved 2008-11-11.CS1 maint: unrecognized language (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> Toshihiko Atsuyama’s (Foreign Prophecies blog) English translation
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Habib, Ridlawn (2008-11-05). "Kalau ke Jogja, Barry bisa habiskan seekor ayam baceman". Jawa Pos (in Indonesian). Surabya. Retrieved 2008-11-10. Unknown parameter |trans_title= ignored (help)CS1 maint: unrecognized language (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> Google Translate's English translation Lolo studied geography at Gadjah Mada University and got a scholarship from the Indonesian Army Topographic Service. After working for the Indonesian Army Topographic Service, he worked for an American oil company, Unocal [Union Oil Company].
  5. Nathalia, Telly (2008-06-05). "Indonesians reflect with pride on Obama nomination". Retrieved 2008-06-17.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. Obama (1995, 2004), p. 42.
  7. . (2009-09-11). "For the record: President Obama's East-West Center connections" (PDF). East-West Center Press Kit. Honolulu: East–West Center. Retrieved 2011-02-06. Obama’s stepfather, Lolo Soetoro, was an East-West Center graduate degree fellow (M.A. in geography) from 1962–64, before he married Obama’s mother.CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. Wester, Lyndon (2010-10-13). "History of the Department". Honolulu: University of Hawaii Department of Geography. Retrieved 2011-02-06.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. Dougherty, Phil (2009-02-07). "Stanley Ann Dunham, mother of Barack Obama, graduates from Mercer Island High School in 1960". Seattle: Retrieved 2011-01-13.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
    Dougherty, Phil (2009-02-10). "Barack Obama moves to Seattle in August or early September 1961". Seattle: Retrieved 2011-02-06.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 Ripley, Amanda (2008-04-09). "The story of Barack Obama's mother". Retrieved 2011-01-13.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 Maraniss, David (2008-08-22). "Though Obama had to leave to find himself, it is Hawaii that made his rise possible". Retrieved 2011-01-13. Lolo was off working for Union Oil … He had been summoned back to his country from Hawaii in 1966 and sent to work in New Guinea for a year …<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
    . (1962-06-20). "Kenyan student wins fellowship". Honolulu Star-Bulletin. p. 7.CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
    Griffin, John (1962-06-22). "First UH African graduate gives view on E-W Center". The Honolulu Advertiser. p. B?.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. Solomon, Deborah (2008-01-20). "Questions for Maya Soetoro-Ng: All in the family". The New York Times Magazine. p. 17. Retrieved 2011-01-13.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 13.3 Nakaso, Dan (2008-09-12). "Obama's mother's work focus of UH seminar". The Honolulu Advertiser. Retrieved 2011-02-06.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

    At UH, she fell in love with a Javanese candidate for a master's degree in geography named Soetoro Martodihardjo, who went by the Javanese nickname, "Lolo" Soetoro. They married in 1965 ...
    The Dutch had ceded Western New Guinea to Indonesia, and geographer Lolo Soetoro returned to map the new divide between Eastern Guinea, which was under British/Australian control, and the Western portion.
    In the early 1970s … "He got a job with Union Oil," [Alice G.] Dewey said. "Lolo joked that they got divorced because she was falling in love with Javanese handcrafts and he was becoming an American oil man, which wasn't far from the truth."

  14. Date of marriage from Stanley Ann's application to amend her US passport, 6/29/1967.
  15. Obama (1995, 2004), p. 43: He was working for the army as a geologist [sic], surveying roads and tunnels, when she arrived. It was mind-numbing work that didn't pay very much …
  16. Scott, Janny (2008-03-14). "A free-spirited wanderer who set Obama's path". The New York Times. p. A1. Retrieved 2011-04-20. he was summoned home in 1966 …<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. 17.0 17.1 Hoover, Will (2008-11-08). "Obama slept here". The Honolulu Advertiser. p. A1. Retrieved 2011-01-13.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
    Dingeman, Robbie (2008-12-03). "Obama childhood locales attracting more tourists". The Honolulu Advertiser. p. A1. Retrieved 2011-01-13.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  18. 18.0 18.1 Essoyan, Susan (2008-09-13). "A woman of the people; a symposium recalls the efforts of Stanley Ann Dunham to aid the poor". Honolulu Star-Bulletin. Retrieved 2011-04-20. Dunham earned her bachelor's, master's and Ph.D. in anthropology at the University of Hawaii.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
    Dewey, Alice; White, Geoffrey (November 2008). "Ann Dunham: a personal reflection". Anthropology News. 49 (8): 20. doi:10.1111/an.2008.49.8.20.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> reprinted by:
    Dewey, Alice; White, Geoffrey (2009-03-09). "Ann Dunham: a personal reflection". Honolulu: University of Hawaii Department of Anthropology. Retrieved 2011-01-13.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
    Dunham (2009), p. 376: "S. Ann Dunham (1942–95), mother of President Barack Obama and Maya Soetoro-ng, earned her undergraduate, master's and doctoral degrees, all in anthropology, from the University of Hawaiʻi at Manoa."
  19. San Nicholas, Claudine (2009-01-21). "Retired teachers on Maui recall young, 'cute' student Barry; Instructors worked at Noelani Elementary School on Oahu when Obama was in kindergarten class". Maui News. Wailuku. Retrieved 2011-01-13.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  20. 20.0 20.1 20.2 20.3 20.4 20.5 Barker, Kim (2007-03-25). "History of schooling distorted". Chicago Tribune. p. 28. Retrieved 2009-07-26.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

    Obama and his mother moved from Honolulu to Jakarta to join Soetoro in 1967, when Obama was 6.
    In their first neighborhood ... Soetoro usually was too busy working, first for the Indonesian army and later for a Western oil company.
    Zulfan Adi, a former neighborhood playmate of Obama's who has been cited in news reports as saying Obama regularly attended Friday prayers with Soetoro, told the Tribune he was not certain about that when pressed about his recollections. He only knew Obama for a few months, during 1970, when his family moved to the neighborhood.
    In late 1970, Obama's family moved to another neighborhood, and Obama enrolled in Public Elementary School Menteng No. 1 ...

  21. 21.0 21.1 21.2 Watson, Paul (2007-03-15). "As a child, Obama crossed a cultural divide in Indonesia". Los Angeles Times. p. A1. Retrieved 2008-06-21. Soetoro worked for Mobil Oil ... Adi said.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  22. 22.0 22.1 22.2 22.3 Anderton, Trish (2007-06-26). "Obama's Jakarta trail". The Jakarta Post. Archived from the original on 2008-06-12. Retrieved 2008-06-19.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
    Nazeer, Zubaidah; Samon, Mohd Ishak (2009-01-27). "Where Obama won a keropok eating contest". The New Paper. Singapore: Retrieved 2011-04-20. he joined ... Besuki SDN Menteng, where Mr Effendi taught, in 1970. Barry came into his class a month late, in February 1970 because he had transferred from the Catholic elementary school St Francis Assisi.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
    Higgins, Andrew (2010-04-09). "Catholic school in Indonesia seeks recognition for its role in Obama's life". The Washington Post. p. A1. Retrieved 2011-01-01.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
    Onishi, Norimitsu (2010-11-09). "Obama visits a nation that knew him as Barry". The New York Times. p. A14. Retrieved 2011-01-01.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  23. Obama (1995, 2004), p. 32.
    Maraniss (2012), pp. 230, 240.
  24. 24.0 24.1 24.2 24.3 24.4 Dunham, S. Ann (2008). "Tentang penulis (About the author)". Pendekar-pendekar besi Nusantara: kajian antropologi tentang pandai besi tradisional di Indonesia (Peasant blacksmithing in Indonesia: surviving and thriving against all odds). Bandung: Mizan. pp. 211–219. ISBN 978-979-433-534-5.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  25. Sheridan, Michael; Baxter, Sarah (2007-01-28). "Secrets of Obama family unlocked". The Sunday Times. London. p. 25. Retrieved 2009-08-27. Soetoro became a government relations consultant with a big US oil company.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> reprinted on 2007-02-01 by The Muslim Observer
  26. Obama (1995, 2004). p. 46.
  27. Obama (1995, 2004). pp. 54, 58.
    Maraniss (2012), pp. 230, 240.
  28. 28.0 28.1 Fornek, Scott; Good, Greg (2007-09-09). "The Obama family tree" (PDF). Chicago Sun-Times. p. 2B. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2008-06-25. Retrieved 2008-06-21.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  29. Jones, Bart; Lefkowitz, Melanie; Henderson, Nia-Malika; Evans, Martin C. (2008-11-08). "Timeline: Obama through the years". Newsday. Melville, N.Y. Retrieved 2008-11-09.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  30. Obama (1995, 2004). pp. 58–59.
    Maraniss (2012), pp. 264–266.
  31. 31.0 31.1 31.2 31.3 Dunham (2009), pp. xli–xliv: "January 8, 1976 letter from Ann Dunham Soetoro (Jl. Polowijan 3, Kraton, Yogyakarta) to Prof. Alice G. Dewey (Univ. of Hawaii, Honolulu)."
  32. Mendell, David (2007). Obama: from promise to power. New York: Amistad/HarperCollins. p. 43. ISBN 0-06-085820-6.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  33. Obama (1998, 2004), pp. 44–47.
    Maraniss (2012), pp. 242–243.
  34. Obama (1995, 2004), pp. 30–31.
  35. 35.0 35.1 Fornek, Scott (2007-09-09). "Lolo Soetoro; 'A piece of tiger meat'". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 2008-06-17.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  36. Obama (1995, 2004), p. 37.
  37. Habib, Ridlwan (2008-11-06). "Keluarga besar Lolo Soetoro, kerabat dekat calon Presiden Amerika di Jakarta (Lolo Soetoro's extended family in Jakarta, close relatives to American Presidential nominee)". Jawa Pos (in Indonesian). Surabya. Retrieved 2008-11-10.CS1 maint: unrecognized language (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>Google Translate's English translation