Obama Mourns Kenyan Granny, Pens Emotional Tribute

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Former US President Barack Obama has penned a moving tribute to mourn the passage of his late step grandmother, Sarah Hussein Onyango Obama who died on Monday aged 99.

The New Diplomat had earlier reported that Obama’s granny and family matriarch died at a hospital in the western Kenyan city of Kisumu.

Obama in a tribute he wrote on his Instagram page, revealed how his paternal granny cared for her children and shouldered family’s responsibilities despite the huge challenges that existed in her rural part of Kenya while raising a family at the time. Obama said Sarah’s lack of formal education didn’t stop her from going ahead to contribute her quota to societal good.

Obama also shared a throwback picture he took with her during his first trip to Kenya, while trying to unravel his African root.

It would be recalled that young Obama made his maiden trip to Kenya in 1988, six years after his father had died in a car crash.

The former US president said following his first trip to Africa, it was the stories of his late granny that helped to shape his African perspectives, supplying the missing link in his identity as an African-American.

Although many Kenyans fondly referred to the Obama matriarch as “Mama Sarah,” the former president said the family simply called her “Dani,” which means grandma in the local Luo language.

“She would spend the rest of her life in the tiny village of Alego, in a small home built of mud-and thatch brick and without electricity or indoor plumbing, he wrote.

“There she 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.

“When our family had difficulties, her homestead was a refuge for her children and grandchildren, and her presence was a constant, stabilising force.”

Also, in a condolence 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.

In his memoir, “Dreams from My Father,” President Obama had described meeting his paternal grandmother during his 1988 trip to his father’s homeland.

Sarah Obama, who was the second wife of Obama’s grandfather, was revered for her tireless work on behalf of orphans and often took orphans into her home in rural western Kenya.

Plans are underway in Kenya for a funeral service in her honour, Tuesday.

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