By Spy Uganda Correspondent
Nairobi, Kenya; Sarah Hussein Onyango Obama, the step-grandmother of former US President Barack Obama, died on Monday morning at age 99, her family announced.
Marsat Onyango, the daughter of Mama Sarah Obama, told media that her mother had been ailing for some time.
“It’s true she went to be with her Lord,” she said.
In a condolences message, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta said: “The passing away of Mama Sarah is a big blow to our nation. We’ve lost a strong, virtuous woman. A matriarch who held together the Obama family and was an icon of family values.”
“She was a loving and celebrated philanthropist who graciously shared the little she had with the less fortunate in her community,” he added.
Meanwhile, Kisumu Governor Anyang Nyong’o issued a message: “It is with deep sorrow and regret that I would like to announce the untimely passing of Mama Sarah Obama at Jaramogi Teaching and Referral Hospital here in Kisumu at 4.45 a.m. [0145GMT] in the morning after a short illness.”
“We send our condolences to the Obama family and the Kogelo people of Siaya county, Kenyans will miss her dearly,” he said.
The governor said that Mama Sarah was a philanthropist who mobilized funds to pay for school fees for many orphans and vulnerable children while also supporting widows.
In July 2018, US President Barack Obama visited his ancestral village in Kenya and participated in a traditional dance with his grandmother and half-sister Auma Obama.
See Her Full Biography
Sarah Onyango Obama (1922 – 29 March 2021) was a Kenyan educator and philanthropist. She was the third wife of the paternal grandfather of U.S. president Barack Obama. She was fondly known by her short name as Sarah Obama; sometimes referred to as Sarah Ogwel, Sarah Hussein Obama, or Sarah Anyango Obama. She lived in Nyang’oma Kogelo village, 30 miles west of western Kenya’s main town, Kisumu, on the edge of Lake Victoria.
Although she was not a blood relation, Barack Obama called her “Granny Sarah”. Sarah, who spoke Luo and only a few words of English, communicated with President Obama through an interpreter.
On 4 July 2008, Sarah Obama attended the United States Independence Day celebrations in Nairobi, hosted by Michael Ranneberger, the U.S. ambassador in Kenya.
During the U.S. presidential campaign, she protested attempts to portray Obama as a foreigner to the United States or as a Muslim, saying that while Obama’s grandfather had been a Muslim, “In the world of today, children have different religions from their parents.” Sarah Obama was “a strong believer of the Islamic faith”, in her words.
On 19 November 2014, Sarah Obama received the Pioneer Award from the United Nations for the work of an education foundation that she headed, as a part of Women’s Entrepreneurship Day.
On 29 March 2021 it was announced that Obama had died at the age of 99.