Former United States President Barack Obama, on March 29, took to Twitter to mourn the death of his step-grandmother, who passed away at the age of 99. Sarah Ogwel Onyango Obama, affectionately known to many as “Mama Sarah”, breathed her last in Kenya. The former US President, while remembering his 'dani', said "we will celebrate with gratitude her long and remarkable life."
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. We will miss her dearly, but we’ll celebrate with gratitude her long and remarkable life. pic.twitter.com/avDY4f1PVu— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) March 29, 2021
Sarah Obama, the step-grandmother of former US President Barack Obama, has died at the age of 99, according to family members. Sarah Obama, who was known for her philanthropic work in her village in Kenya, died due to an unknown cause. Sarah Obama was being treated at a hospital in Kenya’s Kisumu city, where she died around 4 am local time on Monday. Sarah’s daughter Marsat Onyango told The Associated Press that the matriarch of the Obama family died this morning, adding “we are devastated”.
Kisumu Governor Anyang Nyong offered his condolences to the family and people of Kogelo village, where Sarah Obama had worked her entire life promoting education for girls and orphans. Nyong hailed Sarah Obama’s philanthropist work saying she used to mobilise funds to pay the fees of orphan school children, adding “she will be remembered for her work to promote education for orphans”.
Sarah Obama was the second wife of former US President Barack Obama’s grandfather. Sarah Obama had helped raise Barack Obama’s father in Kenya after she was married to his grandfather. Barack Obama has a lot of respect for Sarah as mentioned in his speech on multiple occasions. Sarah had even attended Barack Obama’s inauguration ceremony in 2009 when he was elected the first Black president of the United States.
Barack Obama has referred to Sarah as “Granny” in his memoir ‘Dreams from My Father’. In his memoir, Obama describes how the two developed a warm bond despite initial awkwardness. Obama has also mentioned Sarah in multiple speeches, including his 2014 speech to the United Nations General Assembly. Obama first met with Sarah in 1988, when he visited Kenya for the first time to see his homeland.
Sarah Obama had once told The Associated Press that she didn't want anyone to be illiterate, which is why she started the foundation to help orphan kids. Sarah said her inability to read letters even as an adult motivated her to start the work of empowering orphan children, which she continued until her death through The Mama Sara Obama Foundation.