As an American citizen, I’ve heard Barack Obama called many nicknames: GoBama; Obiden; Bammy; Obama Osama; ObaMao—but I’ve never heard him referred to as “Barry.” Here in Indonesia, it’s “Barry Soetoro” to be exact.
This name connects America’s 44th President to the four years he spent in Indonesia as a child, attending elementary school in Menteng, South Jakarta under the nickname of “Barry” and surname of his Indonesian step-father, Lolo Soetoro. Consequently, Barack’s fan-base here is large, with many local residents feeling a particular kinship with the U.S. President who still speaks conversational Bahasa Indonesia and looks pretty dashing in a Batik.
This week “Barry” is on the lips of Jakarta residents everywhere as the city prepares for Obama’s first presidential visit to the country he once called home. The President’s trip to Indonesia is of particular relevance as his last two promised visits were later cancelled, leaving the excited city greatly disappointed and the ties between Washington and Jakarta yet-to-be cemented.
But it looks like nothing can keep Barack from cancelling his commitment this time, as not even the most recent eruptions of the deadly volcano Mount Merapi have deterred the President’s plans to touch-down in Jakarta tomorrow.
The trip is part of Barack’s four-country tour of Asia focusing on boosting U.S. exports. Other stops include India, South Korea and Japan. Watch this space for updates.