NAIROBI, Kenya – Sarah Obama, the matriarch of former US President Barack Obama’s Kenyan family, has died, family members and officials confirmed Monday. He was at least 99 years old.
Mama Sarah, as Obama’s grandmother was affectionately called, promoted education for girls and orphans in her rural village of Kogelo. He passed away around 4 a.m. local time while receiving treatment at the Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Hospital in Kisumu, Kenya’s third-largest city in the west of the country, according to his daughter Marsat Onyango.
“He died this morning. We are devastated, ”Onyango told The Associated Press in a phone call.
“Mom suffered from normal illnesses, she did not die from COVID-19,” said a family spokesman, Sheikh Musa Ismail, adding that she tested negative for coronavirus.
Former President Obama was informed of his death and sent his condolences, Ismail said.
She will be buried on Tuesday before noon and the funeral will be held under Islamic rites.
Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama participate alongside their wives, former first ladies Rosalynn, Hillary, Laura and Michelle.
“The passing of Mama Sarah is a great blow to our nation. We have lost a strong and virtuous woman, a matriarch who held the Obama family together and was an icon of family values, ”said President Uhuru Kenyatta.
Sarah Obama, was the second wife of President Obama’s grandfather and helped raise her father, Barack Obama, Sr. The family is part of the Luo ethnic group of Kenya.
Obama often showed her affection and referred to her as “Granny” in his biography, “My Father’s Dreams.” He described meeting her during his 1988 trip to his father’s homeland, which became a warm bond. She attended Obama’s first swearing-in as president in 2009. Obama spoke about his grandmother again in his September 2014 speech to the UN General Assembly.
For decades, Sarah Obama helped orphans, raising some at home. The Mama Sara Obama Foundation helped provide food and education to children who lost their parents, providing school supplies, uniforms, basic medical necessities, and school fees.