Legacy of an International Cucu: Name Lake Victoria, Lake Sarah Obama!


The Legacy of an International Cucu: Name Lake Victoria, Lake Sarah Obama!

The Legacy of an International Cucu: Name Lake Victoria, Lake Sarah Obama!
Prof. Teddy Kamau with mama Sarah Obama

One of Obama’s half brothers, Salim met me at a restaurant in Kisumu. We sat down for breakfast to prepare for a journey to meet the most popular Stepmother and grand mother in the world: The mother to United States president, Barack Obama. After chai, mandazi, mayai fry with toast properly butterd with Brookside butter, we got into the car and drove towards Kogelo. Salim is a tall slim guy whose humility and non-assumptive demeanor was surprising given that he was a stepbrother to the most powerful man in the world.

The drive to Kogelo was an ordinary Kenyan road trip painted with beautiful terrain that includes large piles of rocks that one sees on a particular stretch of road towards Kogelo from Kisumu. Salim had not spent much time with his stepbrother Barack. That opportunity fell on Obama’s favorite half sister Ouma who was featured in every visit of former president Obama to Kenya. Therefore, Salim did not have much to say but point to the beautiful terrain. Arriving at Kogelo, I saw the school next to the Obama’s boma. It is named after Senator Barack Obama.

I noticed that the boma was a regular Kenyan village establishment with nothing but a common Kenyan gate made of wood and mesh wire. I was shocked that the only security was a regular GSU askari manning the gate. He opened the gate and we entered into the boma. Inside the boma was a regular Kenyan mud house with painted white walls. Behind the mud house was a modest granite house where the famous grand mother resided. We met Obama’s other half sister Marset who welcomed us into the house.

Dr. Teddy Kamau, Sarah Obama, Alice Chesire

Marset took us around the compound, which had nothing impressive for relatives of the most powerful man in the world. The family had a few cows for zero grazing. Marset showed us a chicken project that was being sponsored by USA AID program. And a part from a few pawpaw plants, the area did not have much to see. We got the opportunity to enter into the mud hut where Obama used to stay when he visited as a young man. Pictures of his father and other family members decorate the mud walls. After the tour we went back to grandma’s house. By this time, mama Obama had invited a group of her local women friends who were part of her extended ministry to the local community.

We all sat outside and enjoyed chai with buttered bread. I spent time with the women group, listening to their stories and mama Obama’s reflections on her son and what it meant to her. She reflected on how much she enjoyed my father’s program every Sunday on KBC, Wimbo Niupendao. “Baba yako alinibariki kwa nyimbo na sauti yake.” She remembered of my father’s ministry to her.

By the time I was done with my visit, I had met the most popular grandma in the world, and instead of coming out of the visit with owe, I was reminded of my own grandmother, Aphia. Mama Obama’s humility, and commitment to her local women’s groups, her unequivocal love for her children, and her love for visitors was not surprising.

It reminded me of what many visitors in Kenya say after touring this incredible country, “The people are full of love and hospitality.” Mama Obama did not want to be seen as a celebrity, or given praise. She wanted to remain a local Kenyan woman whose life on earth was to serve her local community. She wanted to be remembered as a regular grandmother whose life is testified to by her love and parenting of her children, her service to the local community and her guidance of a man who became the most powerful person on earth.

It is sad that the Kenyan government has not found a road or a building or a park to name after this great Kenyan grandmother. It is sad that though this woman represents the best in Kenyan women, Kenyan mothers, Kenyan grandmothers, we have not found a way to memorialize her image.

Maybe we should rename lake victoria Lake Sarah Obama: Queen Victoria did nothing for us but colonize. We can start by naming Nairobi – Kisumu road after this humble Kenyan grandmother!

Teddy Njoroge Kamau (PhD)
HTBluff Associates
Diaspora Messenger Senior Columnist


Legacy of an International Cucu: Name Lake Victoria, Lake Sarah Obama!

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