The Obama patriarch died in a Kenyan hospital at the age of 99

Nairobi, Kenya (AP) — Former US President Barack Obama’s Kenyan family head, Sarah Obama, has died, relatives and officials confirmed on Monday, but did not reveal the cause of death. She was at least 99 years old.

Mama Sarah was a philanthropist who promoted education for girls and orphans, as the grandmother of the former US President was lovingly called. According to her daughter Marsat Onyango, she died around 4 am local time while being treated at the Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Teaching and Referral Hospital in Kisumu, the third largest city in western Kenya.

“She died this morning. We’re devastated,” Onyango told The Associated Press by phone.

She will be memorable in her work to promote education to empower orphans, Kisumu Governor Anyang Nyongo said in condolences to the people of Kogero village who lost their patriarch. Stated.

“She was a philanthropist who mobilized money to pay for her orphans,” he said.

Sara Obama was President Obama’s grandfather’s second wife and helped raise his father, Barack Obama Sr. The family is a member of the Luo tribe in Kenya.

President Obama often showed affection for her and called her “grandma” in his memoir “Dream from My Father.” He explained that he met her when he visited his father’s hometown in 1988 and the first awkwardness they had when they had a hard time communicating. She attended his first inauguration as president in 2009. Obama then spoke again about his grandmother in his September 2014 speech to the UN General Assembly.

For decades, Sara Obama has helped orphans and raised some in her home. The Mama Sara Obama Foundation helped provide food and education to children who lost their parents — providing school supplies, uniforms, basic medical needs, and tuition fees.

In an interview with AP in 2014, she said she could receive the letter as an adult but couldn’t read it. She said she didn’t want her children to be illiterate, so she saw all the children in her family go to school.

She allows the president’s father to step into school six miles (9 km) daily behind a bicycle from his family’s hometown of Kogero to the larger town of Ngia for an unprecedented education. I remembered what I did.

“I love education,” said Sara Obama. Because children “learn to be self-sufficient.” Especially for girls who didn’t go to school too often.

“If a woman is educated, she will not only educate her family, but the entire village,” she said.

Details of her burial preparations will be announced later, her daughter said. Sarah Obama is a Muslim and it is not clear if she will be buried according to the custom of her belief that she should be buried within 24 hours of death.