Obama’s Grandma says Zeituni Onyango ‘was not’ a beggar in the US


Mama Sarah Obama has dismissed reports that her daughter, who died last week, lived in abject poverty in the US.

At the same time, Mama Sarah said the body of Ms Zeituni Onyango, the aunt of President Barack Obama, would be flown to Kenya for burial.

Speaking to the media at her Kogelo home in Siaya County, she said her daughter was a hard worker.

“Media reports that my daughter was living in poverty are untrue; Zeituni was a hard working individual as she was even respected by important people both at home and in the US. She was not a beggar,” she said.

She said Zeituni had even left behind four children who were caring for her.


Mama Sarah, who is the patron of Safeguard Orphans and Widows Organisation (Sowo), added that the annual Sowo-Kogelo tournament, which is usually held every April, had been postponed to next month.

Sowo coordinator Sam Onyango said the family would announce the burial date after consultations.

Mr Onyango said the games, which were slated for this weekend, cannot take place when the family is mourning.

“The Sowo-Kogello tournament has been postponed to next month to give the family ample time to arrange for the funeral of the beloved Zeituni,” said Mama Sarah.

Ms Onyango worked at Kenya Breweries Ltd as a systems administrator before she moved with her family to the US in 2000.

She was pushed into the limelight when she contributed towards Mr Obama’s presidential campaign in 2008, against the US law.

The Associated Press, an international media outlet, reported that Ms Onyango was living in the US illegally after being asked by the courts to leave the country.

Mama Sarah was responding to media reports that for most of her life in the United States, Zeituni lived a life of isolation, loneliness, want and scarcity, at times going to sleep without food.


Mama Sarah Obama speaks at a past event. PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE | FILE

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