A Twitter account named History in Pictures (followed by 515,501 users) tweeted the following:

President Obama was known to be heavy marijuana smoker in his teen & college days. His nickname was "Barack Oganja".

The following image accompanied the text.

enter image description here

As I write this, the tweet has been retweeted 4,174 times and favourited 2,448 times. This claim has also been made on Facebook (332,000 likes) and other random sites.

  1. Is that Barack Obama in the photograph?
  2. Has he been known to smoke pot? Heavily?
  3. Was he ever nicknamed Barack Oganja?

If this is completely fabricated, please (try to) point out the source of this rumour.


1 Answer 1

  1. Yes, this is Barack Obama. It is a photo by Lisa Jack, taken in 1980 at Occidental College. (From Lisa Jack's artist statement.) The work was exhibited at M+B Gallery in West Hollywood, among other places.

  2. He has been known to smoke pot: "I inhaled, frequently. That was the point."

  3. I can find no evidence in any text online that the claim is true. (This does not prove that it is false, though.)

    The first online reference that I could find to "Barack Oganja" as an early nickname for Barack Obama is on May 18, 2012:

    This is consistent with Google Trends not showing any activity for this term before June 2012.

    enter image description here

    One individual created this nickname for themself prior to 2012.

    One user attributed a Barack Obama quote to "Barack Oganja" on December 4, 2011, but didn't claim it was a nickname from his younger years.

    Two marijuana growers named a strain of marijuana "Barack Oganja" (reported December 4, 2009)

    One blog called Barack Obama "Barack O-Ganja" in a headline on October 26, 2009, but didn't connect it to a nickname from Obama's earlier years.

  • 3
    "The Sun" is not your most reliable source. Do you have another? Nov 28, 2013 at 20:20
  • @DJClayworth Time, Work exhibited by M+B Gallery, Artist statement by Lisa Jack.
    – user5582
    Nov 28, 2013 at 21:03
  • Those are great. Nov 28, 2013 at 23:21
  • 3
    But why would you assume that a college nickname (should it exist) from 33 years ago would be indexed by Google?
    – vartec
    Dec 11, 2013 at 14:59
  • 3
    You spend considerable part of your answer on "proof by Google", while in fact it neither proves nor disproves anything at all. Since it's not expected that the nickname from 33 years ago is indexed, date when it surfaced in digital era isn't really meaningful. The only thing that is know, is that FactBoook tweeted unsourced claim. Rest is just a speculation based on thesis that the claim is false.
    – vartec
    Dec 11, 2013 at 16:49

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