Barack Obama’’ Grandmother, Sarah, Has Died at 99 Years Old


Former president Barack Obama shared sad news on Monday, March 29: His grandmother, Sarah Ogwel Onyango Obama, has died at 99 years old. 

He posted a picture of the two of them together in her village along with a lengthy caption sharing her life story. “Born in the first quarter of the last century, in Nyanza Province, on the shores of Lake Victoria, she had no formal schooling, and in the ways of her tribe, she was married off to a much older man while only a teen. She would spend the rest of her life in the tiny village of Alego, in a small home built of mud-and-thatch brick and without electricity or indoor plumbing. There she raised eight children, tended to her goats and chickens, grew an assortment of crops, and took what the family didn’t use to sell at the local open-air market,” he wrote.

Barack Obama clarified that the woman he knew as Granny was not his father’s “birth mother” but raised him “as her own, and it was in part thanks to her love and encouragement that he was able to defy the odds and do well enough in school to get a scholarship to attend an American university.”

The former president remembered visiting Kenya after his father, whom he knew only a little, had passed away: “Granny, who served as a bridge to the past…helped fill a void in my heart.”

Reflecting on the incredible journey that started in a small village and included watching her grandson become president of the United States, he wrote that Sarah Obama’s “essential spirit—strong, proud, hard-working, unimpressed with conventional marks of status, and full of common sense and good humor—never changed.”

Comments immediately poured in, on both Instagram and Twitter, from those offering their thoughts and condolences to the family. 


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