Obama family matriarch Sarah Obama has died at the age of 99 in a Kenyan hospital, according to the Associated Press. She reportedly died around 4 a.m. local time while being treated at the Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Teaching and Referral hospital in Kisumu, Kenya’s third-largest city in the country’s west, according to her daughter Marsat Onyango.
“She died this morning. We are devastated,” Onyango said to the Associated Press. Sarah Obama was the second wife of President Obama’s grandfather and helped raise the former president’s father, Barack Obama, Sr.. Former President Barack Obama referred to her as “Granny” in his 1995 Grammy award-winning Dreams From my Father memoir.
“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,” Barack Obama said in an official statement. “We will miss her dearly, but we’ll celebrate with gratitude her long and remarkable life.”
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta regarded the late matriarch as “a strong, virtuous woman…who held together the Obama family” and “an icon of family values.” Kisumu Governor Anyang Nyong’o gave a nod to her work as a philanthropist ” who mobilized funds to pay school fees for the orphans.”
Sarah Obama’s work was elevated after former President Obama was elected into office in 2008. Her passion for orphans extended to the offering of raising some in her own home and was the founder of the Mama Sara Obama Foundation, which gave educational support and food to those children without parents. Support included but was not limited to school supplies, uniforms, basic medical needs, and school fees.
According to reports, her cause of death was not related to COVID-19 and tested negative for coronavirus. Mama Sarah was sick a week prior to being admitted to the hospital and she will be buried tomorrow before midday. The funeral will be held under Islamic rites.