United States former President Barack Obama has lost his Kenyan grandmother, Sarah Obama., She died at the age of 99 in western Kenya.
Her daughter, Marsat Onyango, who announced her death said, “It is true she has gone to be with the Lord. “She passed on this morning,” she said in an emotion laden voice.
Mama Sarah, as she was popularly called had been admitted to the Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Teaching and Referral Hospital in Kisumu.
Sarah Obama was, for a long time best known for the hot porridge and doughnuts she served at a local school.
She, however, rose to world fame with the 2008 election of her step-grandson Barack as the first black US president.
Already a national celebrity after the former Illinois senator Barack Obama visited Kenya in 2006, Sarah’s residence became a tourist attraction with Obama’s November 2008 election triumph.
“Born in 1922 in a village on the shores of the beautiful waters of Lake Victoria, Sarah was the third wife of Hussein Onyango Obama, President Obama’s grandfather, 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 be the first man to swap goatskin clothing for trousers in his village. He returned from the war in Burma with a gramophone and a picture of a white woman he claimed to have married,” a report stated.
Although Barack Obama is not a blood relation, he often refered to Sarah as his grandmother, calling her “granny”.
Obama met with her among other family members on his trip back to Nairobi Kenya as US president.
After he left office, he travelled to her home in the village of Kogelo in 2018, joking hee had been unable to do so in 2015 as his jet was too big to land in Kisumu.
Obama is related to his Kenyan family through his father Barack senior, described as a pipe-smoking economist who Obama has admitted he “never truly” knew.
According to reports, he met Barack Obama’s mother, Ann Dunham, in Hawaii. But shortly after walked out on her when Obama was just two years old. He later died in a car crash in Nairobi in 1982, aged 46.
Obama senior had worked in the government of Kenya’s pioneer president, Jomo Kenyatta, who led Kenya at independence from Britain until his death 14 years later in 1978.
The two men were not in a good relationship with Kenyatta — the father of Kenya’s current president Uhuru Kenyatta — Obama senior was sacked and subsequently blackballed for further government jobs. His ostracisation led him into alcoholism.