Sarah Obama, former President Barack Obama’s grandmother, recently passed away. At the time, she was 99 years old.
Mama Sarah, the former president’s step-grandmother, was well-known in her rural Kogelo village and advocated education for girls and orphans. According to her daughter, Marsat Onyango, she died at the Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Teaching and Referral Hospital in Kisumu, Kenya’s third-largest city in the country’s west.
“She died early this morning. “We are devastated,” Onyango told The Associated Press over the phone. “Mama was sick with normal diseases,” a family spokesman claimed, adding that she had tested negative for the ailment.
He indicated that she had been ill for a week before to admission. President Barack Obama offered his condolences to his family.
“My family and I are mourning the loss of our beloved grandmother, Sarah Ogwel Onyango Obama, affectionately known to many as “Mama Sarah,” but known to us as “Dani” or Granny,” the former president tweeted alongside a photo of himself as a child with his grandmother. “We will miss her terribly, but we will remember her long and remarkable life with gratitude.”
“Mama Sarah’s death is a devastating blow to our country.” “We’ve lost a strong, virtuous woman, a matriarch who kept the Obama family together and was a symbol of family values,” Kenyatta added.
Kisumu Governor Anyang Nyong’o extended condolences to the people of Kogelo village for the loss of a matriarch, saying she would be remembered for her efforts to promote education and empower orphans. “She was a philanthropist who raised funds to pay for orphans’ school fees,” he said.
Sarah Obama was the second wife of President Barack Obama’s grandfather, and she raised his father, Barack Obama, Sr. The family comes from Kenya’s Luo ethnic group.
President Barack Obama idolised her, referring to her as “Granny” in his autobiography, “Dreams from My Father.” He recalled meeting her on a vacation to his father’s birthplace in 1988, and how their awkwardness as they sought to communicate turned into a cherished friendship.
She attended his first inauguration as president in 2009. Obama acknowledged his grandma again in his September 2014 speech to the United Nations General Assembly.
For decades, Sarah Obama has cared for orphans in her home. The Mama Sara Obama Foundation provided school supplies, uniforms, basic medical needs, and school fees to children who had lost their parents.
Even as an adult, she told the Associated Press in 2014, letters would arrive but she couldn’t read them. She expressed her desire for her children to be educated. As a result, she made certain that all of her family’s children attended school.
She remembers riding the president’s father’s bicycle six miles to school every day from the family’s small village of Kogelo to the larger town of Ngiya to guarantee he obtained the education she did not receive.
“I love education,” Sarah Obama said, since it teaches children “how to be self-sufficient,” particularly girls, who are sometimes denied the opportunity to attend school.
“If a woman gets an education, she will educate not only her family, but the entire village,” she said.
In 2014, she received the United Nations’ inaugural Women’s Entrepreneurship Day Education Pioneer Award in recognition of her efforts to improve education.