Sarah Obama, the grandmother of former US President Barack Obama, has died aged 99 in western Kenya, her daughter told AFP Monday.
“It is true she has gone to be with the Lord, she passed on this morning,” said an emotional Marsat Onyango, her daughter.
Sarah Obama, popularly known as Mama Sarah, had been admitted to the Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Teaching and Referral Hospital in Kisumu.
Family spokesman Sheikh Musa Ismail said she had been unwell for a week, but had tested negative for Covid-19.
Ismail said the former president had “sent his condolences.”
Once a simple countrywoman, Sarah Obama was for a long time best known for the hot porridge and doughnuts she served at a local school.
But she rose to world fame with the 2008 election of her step-grandson Barack as the first black US president.
Already a national celebrity after the former Illinois senator Barack Obama visited Kenya in 2006, Sarah’s modest homestead became a tourist attraction with Obama’s November 2008 election triumph.
Born in 1922 in a village on the shores of Lake Victoria, Sarah was the third wife of Hussein Onyango Obama, President Obama’s grandfather, a herbalist and a village elder who fought for the British in Burma, now called Myanmar.
Onyango Obama, who died in 1975, is said to be the first man to swap goatskin clothing for trousers in his village. He returned from the war in Burma with a gramophone and a picture of a white woman he claimed to have married.