Former President Barack Obama’s step-grandmother Sarah Onyango Obama has reportedly passed away at a hospital in Kenya at the age of 99. SArah Obama, Known as Mama Sarah, passed away early on Monday at a hospital in the city of Kisumu in western Kenya, her daughter Marsat Onyango told the Daily Nation newspaper.
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
A family spokesperson told the BBC that she had been unwell for a week but did not die from COVID-19 and she would later be buried next Monday.
Mama Sarah Obama shot to national fame in Kenya upon Barack Obama‘s election as president in 2008. Tourists would visit Kogelo, the village where she lived, and often knocked on her door.
She used her fame to promote education and philanthropy, setting up the Mama Sarah Obama Foundation to provide food and education to orphans, France24 reported.
She was the third wife of Barack Obama’s grandfather.
In a statement on Twitter, 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.”
"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," ~President Uhuru Kenyatta
— State House Kenya (@StateHouseKenya) March 29, 2021
Mama Obama was born in 1922 in a village on Lake Victoria, according to AFP. She was a Muslim and part of Kenya’s Luo ethnic group.