What you need to know:
- Residents trailed the cortege convoy wailing and waving twigs as the body was taken to Mama Sarah’s home in Nyang’oma.
Kogelo, Siaya county, was on Monday morning thrown into mourning following the death of the Obama family’s matriarch, Sarah Anyango Hussein Obama, early Monday morning.
Mama Sarah died aged 99, just 23 days shy of her 100th birthday, which falls on April 22.
Emotions ran high when the body arrived in Kogelo, Alego Usonga, at 12:45pm on Monday, from Kisumu County, accompanied by close family members and friends.
It was transported from Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Teaching and Referral Hospital to Kogelo, where the burial will take place on Tuesday, in line with Islamic practices.
Residents trailed the cortege convoy wailing and waving twigs as the body was taken to Mama Sarah’s home in Nyang’oma.
At the home, security was heightened, with officers barring most locals from entering.
On arrival at the home, the body was covered with a shawl and moved to her house, in line with Luo traditions.
At around 1.15 pm, a group of women arrived in a car and entered the house to prepare the body for the final rites.
Following speculation, Mama Sarah’s family clarified that she did not die of Covid-19.
Dr George Rae, the Jaramogi Oginga Odinga hospital’s chief executive officer, said she died of a chest infection.
“We tried our best to manage her condition. She had already started improving when she died at 4.45 am,” said Dr Rae.
“She was strong but her age was a compromising factor. Even a simple flu would have led to her death.”
Mama Sarah, the last living grandparent of former US President Barack Obama, had been in and out of hospital.
Her daughter, Marsat Onyango, said she had been sick for a while and that she suffered a stroke last September.
"She also had blood sugar-related problems," she told the Nation on Monday.
Sheikh Musa Ismail Haji, chair of the Kisumu Muslim Association, said Mama Sarah will be buried on Tuesday morning.
He explained that the family was allowed more time before the burial as some members need to travel from far-flung areas.
"Mama did not die of Covid-19-related issues. We wish to clarify that she has been sick for some time," Sheikh Musa said, who spoke on behalf of the family, said at the hospital in Kisumu.
The family had kept Mama Sarah’s health status under wraps, not divulging details of what she was suffering from until her death on Monday.
In 2019, she was admitted to Siaya County Referral Hospital after falling ill at her home.
Mama Sarah was the second wife of President Obama’s grandfather and helped raise his father, Barack Obama Sr.
She kept a low profile, concentrating on her philanthropic activities back in her community.
Through the Mama Sarah Obama Foundation, which is headquartered in California, she assisted the vulnerable in Siaya County, helping to feed and educate orphans as well as taking care of widows and girls in her community.
She also ran the Sarah Obama Community Library, which went digital and partnered with Worldreader to deliver over 7,000 e-books to the rural town.
She also started the Safeguard Orphans and Widows Organisation (Sowo), a non-governmental organisation that supports the said groups in Kogelo, most of them orphaned and widowed through HIV/Aids.
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