NAIROBI, Kenya—Relatives and officials announced Monday that Sarah Obama, former President Barack Obama’s Kenyan mother, died. She was 99+.
Mama Sarah, the former president’s step-grandmother, encouraged girls and orphans to attend school in her rural Kogelo hamlet. At 4 a.m. local time while being treated at the Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Teaching and Referral hospital in Kisumu, Kenya’s third-largest city, in the west, according to her daughter Marsat Onyango.
“She died this morning. “We are horrified,” Onyango told The Associated Press by phone.
“Mama was sick with natural ailments she did not die of Covid-19,” family spokesman Sheik Musa Ismail stated, adding that she tested negative. She was hospitalised a week after falling unwell.
He said President Barack Obama condoled with his family.
“My family and I am mourning the passing of our wonderful grandmother, Sarah Ogwel Onyango Obama, fondly known to many as “Mama Sarah” but known to us as “Dani” or Granny,” the former president tweeted alongside a photo of the young Obama with his grandmother. “We will miss her dearly but celebrate with appreciation her long and extraordinary life.”
She will be Islamically buried Tuesday morning.
Mama Sarah’s death hurts our nation. “We lost a strong, virtuous mother, a matriarch who held the Obama family together and was an icon of family values,” President Uhuru Kenyatta remarked.
Kisumu Governor Anyang Nyong’o offered his sympathies to Kogelo community for losing a matriarch and praised her work to empower orphans through education.
He said she raised money for orphans’ education expenses as a humanitarian.
Sarah Obama, President Obama’s grandfather’s second wife, raised his father, Barack Obama, Sr. Kenyan Luos make up the family.
In his memoir, “Dreams from My Father,” President Obama called her “Granny” and remembered meeting her during his 1988 journey to his father’s birthplace. They initially struggled to speak but built a warm bond.
She attended his 2009 presidential inauguration. At his 2014 U.N. speech, Obama mentioned his grandma again. General Assembly.
Sarah Obama has fostered orphans for decades. The Mama Sara Obama Foundation provided school materials, uniforms, basic medical care, and school fees to orphaned children.
She told AP in 2014 that she couldn’t read adult letters. She wanted her children to be literate, so she made sure they went to school.
She remembered pedalling the president’s father six kilometres to school every day from Kogelo to Ngiya to give him the education she never had.
“I adore education,” Sarah Obama remarked, because youngsters “learn they can be self-sufficient,” especially girls who were often denied schooling.
“Educating a lady will educate her family and the village,” she remarked.
She received the inaugural UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day Education Pioneer Award in 2014 for her education advocacy.