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Barack Obama’s Kenyan grandmother turns 99

Family spokesman Sheikh Musa Ismail said he had been unwell for a week.


Former US President Barack Obama’s grandmother Sarah Obama has died at the age of 99 in Western Kenya, her daughter told AFP on Monday.

“It is true that she has gone to live with Prabhu, she passed away this morning,” said her daughter, a passionate Marsat Onyango.

Sarah Obama, popularly known as Sara Sara, was admitted to Jaramogi Odinga Odinga Teaching and Referral Hospital in Kiramu.

Family spokesman Sheikh Musa Ismail said she had been unwell for a week, but had tested negative for Kovid-19.

Ismail said the former president had “expressed his condolences.”

Once an ordinary country woman, Sarah Obama was known for a long time for the hot porridge and donuts she served at a local school.

But she rose to world fame with the 2008 election of her step-grandson Barack as her black American president.

Already a national figure after former Senator Barack Obama of Illinois moved to Kenya in 2006, Sarah’s best house became a tourist attraction with Obama’s November 2008 election victory.

Born in a village on the banks of Lake Victoria in 1922, Sara was the third wife of Hussein Onyango Obama, grandfather of President Obama, a herbalist and a village elder who fought for the British in Burma, now called Myanmar.

Onyango Obama, who died in 1975, is said to have swapped goat clothes for trousers in his village. He returned from war in Burma with a photo of a gramophone and a white woman whom he claimed to have married.

“Strong, virtuous”

Although there was no blood relation, President Obama often referred to Sarah as her grandmother, calling her “grandmother”.

On his visit to Kenya as US President, he met him in Nairobi along with other family members.

After leaving the post, he traveled to his home in Kogelo village in 2018, jokingly saying that he was unable to do so in 2015 because his jet was too big to land in Kisu.

Obama is connected to his Kenyan family through his father, Barack Sr., a pipe-smoking economist whom Obama admits he never “truly knew.”

He met Barack Obama’s mother Ann Dunham in Hawaii. But he moved out when Obama was just two years old and died in a car accident in Nairobi in 1982 at the age of 46.

Obama Sr. worked in the government of Jomo Kenyatta, who led Kenya to independence from Britain until her death in 1978, 14 years later.

The current President of Kenya, Uhuru Kenyata’s father – Kenyatta’s father, and sacking Obama’s senior, and blackballing him for further government jobs, an ostrication that would help fuel alcohol

Kenita said that on Monday, the country had “lost a strong, virtuous woman. A maternal prime man who was with the Obama family and symbolized family values.”

He said he will be remembered for his philanthropic work, adding that he has undertaken several community development projects in his village.

Ismail said Mama Sarah will be buried at her home on Tuesday.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NB staff and published from a syndicated feed.)


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