Former United States President, Barack Obama has lost his step-grandmother.
Sarah Ogwel Onyango Obama died in Kenya. Mama Sarah or Dani as she was fondly called, was aged 99. She was reportedly receiving treatment for an ailment at a hospital in Kisumu, Kenya.
In a statement, the former American leader said he and his family were mourning the loss and would miss her dearly. He narrated that Mama Sarah was born in Nyanza Province of Kenya, on the shores of Lake Victoria, had no formal schooling and was married off to a much older man while only a teen.
Obama said the deceased spent the rest of her life in the village of Alego, in a small home built of mud-and thatch brick, without electricity or indoor plumbing.
The former President recalled how Mama Sarah raised eight children, tended to her goats and chickens, grew an assortment of crops and took what the family didn’t use to sell at the local open-air market.
“Although not his birth mother, Granny would raise my father as her own and it was in part thanks to her love and encouragement that he was able to defy the odds and do well enough in school to get a scholarship to attend an American university”, the statement said.
“When our family had difficulties, her homestead was a refuge for her children and grandchildren and her presence was a constant, stabilizing force.”
Obama said when he first travelled to Kenya to learn more about his heritage and father, Granny served as a bridge to the past and it was her stories that helped fill a void in his heart.
He added that though she flew on jets, received visitors from around the world and saw one of her grandsons get elected to the United States presidency, Dani remained hard-working, unimpressed with conventional marks of status and full of common sense and good humour.
President Uhuru Kenyatta described the passing of Mama Sara as a big blow to Kenya.
“We’ve lost a strong, virtuous woman. A matriarch who held together the Obama family and was an icon of family values”, he said.