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Childhood photo of Barack Obama in Indonesia found

Barack Obama, then known as Barry Soetoro, center, is pictured at a classmate’s birthday party in Jakarta, Indonesia Photo: AP

(KATAKAMI / TELEGRAPH.UK)  The picture was given to Associated Press by Hadi Surya Dharma, a childhood friend of Mr Obama’s, who sits beside the future president in the black and white photo.

Mr Obama, who was born to a Kenyan father and an American mother, moved to Indonesia when he was seven – after his mother married an Indonesian man she met while studying at the University of Hawaii.

Mr Obama and his mother first set up home in the Menteng Dalam area of Jakarta.

Now a jumble of houses and narrow streets in the shadow of tower blocks, at the time it was on the edge of the city and fruit trees were landmarks.

Many families still live there, and they shared memories of the boy they knew as Barry.

“He went to everyone’s house, played kites with local kids, got stuck in swamps,” said Coenraad Satja Koesoemah, who allowed Mr Obama’s mother to use his front room to give free English lessons to locals.

“He was a Menteng Dalam kid, what more can I say?”

For the first five months, Mr Obama reportedly struggled with the Indonesian language but soon became proficient.

By all accounts, he quickly became a favourite of the teachers and the pupils there, but endured some teasing on account of his looks.

Those early experiences have been cited as key moments that shaped his view on life.

“One of the reasons that he is so cool and non-combative is that he learned to deal with this teasing culture,” said Kay Ikranagara, who worked with Obama’s mother in Jakarta and knew the family well.

“It is a game here, and the trick is not to show you are bothered.”

Mr Obama lived in Indonesia for four years before returning to Hawaii to live with his grandparents.

In his book Dreams From My Father, Mr Obama writes that his mother had “learned the chasm that separated the life chances of an American from those of an Indonesian. She knew which side of the divide she wanted her child to be on.”

He added: “I was an American, she decided, and my true life lay elsewhere.”

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