Barack Obama's grandfather was imprisoned and brutally tortured by the British during the violent struggle for Kenyan independence, according to the Kenyan family of the President-elect.
Hussein Onyango Obama, Obama's paternal grandfather, became involved in the Kenyan independence movement while working as a cook for a British army officer after the war. He was arrested in 1949 and jailed for two years in a high-security prison where, according to his family, he was subjected to horrific violence to extract information about the growing insurgency.
"The African warders were instructed by the white soldiers to whip him every morning and evening till he confessed," said Sarah Onyango, Hussein Onyango's third wife, the woman Obama refers to as "Granny Sarah."
Onyango, 87, described how "white soldiers" visited the prison every two or three days to carry out "disciplinary action" on the inmates suspected of subversive activities.
"He said they would sometimes squeeze his testicles with parallel metallic rods. They also pierced his nails and buttocks with a sharp pin, with his hands and legs tied together with his head facing down," she said.
The alleged torture was said to have left Onyango permanently scarred, and bitterly anti-British. "That was the time we realized that the British were actually not friends but, instead, enemies," Onyango said. "My husband had worked so diligently for them, only to be arrested and detained."
Obama refers briefly to his grandfather's imprisonment in his best-selling memoir, "Dreams from My Father," but states that his grandfather was "found innocent" and held only for "more than six months."