Condolences are pouring in for the Obama family over the loss of the paternal family matriarch. Mama Sarah Onyango Obama who was profiled after President Obama was elected in 2008, has passed away. She was 99.
The news was confirmed by Mama Sarah’s daughter Marsat Onyango who said her mother died at a hospital in the city of Kisumu in Kenya. TMZ reports that a family spokesperson shared that Mama Sarah had been sick for a week, but did not die of COVID-19. President Obama has been informed of her passing and released a statement on Twitter memorializing his grandma.
Kenyan President, Uhuru Kenyatta, released a statement on Mama Sarah’s death, saying;
“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.”
Mama Sarah attended President Obama’s inauguration in 2009 and prior to that was highlighted dancing outside of her home in the Kenyan village of Nyang’oma-Kogelo when Obama was elected. Mama Sarah was the second wife of Barack’s grandfather and President Obama referred to her as Granny’ in his memoir, ‘Dreams from My Father.’ According to him, the two developed a bond after initially struggling to communicate while meeting in 1998 during a trip to his father’s homeland.
Later, Obama spoke about his grandmother again in his September 2014 speech to the U.N. General Assembly.
Mama Sarah was a changemaker who used The Mama Sarah Obama Foundation to help provide food, education, school supplies, and basic medical needs to children who lost their parents and young girls. She also was known to raise several of them in her home in her rural Kogelo village.
R.I.P. Mama Sarah Obama.