About Mark Obama Ndesandjo

Mark Obama Ndesandjo does not call himself a translator. In his opinion, that word refers to a more rarefied space than he deserves. Nevertheless, for the sake of expediency and faster comprehension, it is used in this site from time to time. Mark prefers to use the word interpretation and, as such, has interpreted the poetry of Li Shangyin, about 600 poems in all. We believe this is the first time that Li Shangyin’s complete work is accessible in English.

The goals are twofold:

  • To present the work of the fascinating Tang poet Li Shangyin to a western audience in its entirety
  • To integrate Mark’s personal observations and meditations on Kenya, China and America using Li Shangyin as a muse, so to speak.

The project encompasses a book and a web site.

The book, provisionally called A Tang Poet in Shenzhen,  focuses on a select 50 poems, illustrating each with stories and essays on modern China and Kenya.

The web site is an intelligent ordering of the complete poems in the original Chinese simplified script, pinyin pronunciations, Mark’s interpretations, and  comments and observations of his own.

Obviously there will be some overlap between the book and the web site. Mark plans to publish the book itself in 2017 or 2018. This web site is a work in progress and is meant to encourage feedback and suggestions – to improve upon the quality of the interpretations.

Mark’s personal writing, however, is absolutely, irrefragably and unashamedly his own.

Born in Kenya and a fifteen year resident of Shenzhen, People’s Republic of China, Mark Okoth Obama Ndesandjo is an accomplished American pianist, writer, artist and businessman. He is Adjunct Professor of Arts and Media at Beijing Normal University and has a BSc. Physics from Brown University, an MSc Physics from Stanford and an EMBA from Emory. He is an HSK L7 (advanced) Mandarin speaker and writer, and an avid brush calligrapher. Mark also runs a company linking investors and projects across Asia, Africa and the United States.

In addition to his first book, Nairobi to Shenzhen, he has completed a memoir, An Obama’s Journey, and published 3 piano CDs, The Untimely Ones, Night Moods and his own composition Reflections on William Blake.

Mark has been regularly volunteering piano lessons to orphans in and around Shenzhen since 2002. He is Shenzhen’s Volunteer Image Ambassador and China’s Special Olympics Image Ambassador, as appointed by the Chinese government. Mark is also Image Ambassador for the France-China Cultural Forum.  Recently he established the Mark Obama Ndesandjo Foundation Ltd for cultural exchange, whose goal is to bring art to youth and the disadvantaged. For more on Mark and his foundation please visit www.markobamandesandjo.com.

A moment or two of your time, please…


As you visit the blog, we hope you enjoy the music and art. Please note that all of these recordings are provided for free. Help support Mark’s work by visiting his Foundation webpage (click here) and learning how you can help others through art.


More about Mark

An interview with Time Magazine

Mark’s Books:




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