Obama family in mourning again as mother passes on

Malik Obama

Malik Obama (left) and his uncle Said Obama at the family home in Kogelo, Siaya County on April 13, 2021. The family is making burial plans after Mama Grace Keziah Aoko Obama, who is the mother to Malik and Auma Obama, died in London on Tuesday after a long illness. 

Photo credit: Ondari Ogega | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Mama Keziah had been hospitalised for close to three weeks before she met her death.
  • Family is appealing to the government to help them airlift the body to Kenya amid travel restrictions.

A diplomatic row between Kenya and the United Kingdom leading to travel restrictions from both nations is likely to deny the larger Obama family an opportunity to give Mama Grace Keziah Aoko Obama, who passed on Tuesday, a befitting burial ceremony.

Two weeks after burying Mama Sarah Obama, the family is mourning the death of yet another matriarch — Mama Keziah, who is the mother of Malik, Auma, Bernard Sadik and Mustapha Abo, who was with her when she passed on at 78 years of age.

According to Malik, the family got information about the death of the matriarch from London. She died on Tuesday evening after a long battle with diabetes. The family also attributes her demise to old age.

Former US President Barack Obama’s father, Barack Obama senior, had two known partners, Stanley Ann Dunham and Malik’s mother Keziah Aoko.

She had been hospitalised for close to three weeks before she met her death. Malik said the two deaths, with the latest coming a fortnight after they buried his grandmother, has united the family even more.

The family is now appealing to the government to help them airlift the body to Kenya so that she can be given a befitting burial in Kogelo, Siaya County. 

Appeal to government 

Their plea comes in the wake of a back-and-forth between Kenya and the United Kingdom amid Covid-19 travel restrictions.

Malik, who spoke to Nation from the family home in Kogelo alongside his uncle Said Obama, appealed to the government to facilitate the transportation of the body.

“We fully understand the situation especially with the travel restrictions due to Covid-19, but we are just doing our best to see how fast mama can be brought home with the help of the government,” he said.

According to the UK government, all travellers who have been in or through Kenya in the previous 10 days will be denied entry to England.

British, Irish, and third-country nationals with residence rights will be allowed to enter but will be required to self-isolate in a government-approved hotel quarantine facility for 10 days, also at their own expense.

Nairobi hit back with a statement saying all passengers originating from or transiting through UK airports will now be required to spend 14 days in quarantine at a government-designated facility.

They will also need to take two PCR tests at their own expense. Kenyan citizens who live in the UK and cargo flights are, however, exempt from these measures. Mr Malik described his mother as loving but a tough and no-nonsense woman.

Auma Obama's tweet

“She was very tough but social and happy that is why many of us have grown up into tough people as you can see. I hope that wherever she is she is at a better place,” said Malik.

He recalled that the last time they spoke was when Mama Sarah died but after that her situation deteriorated.

Auma Obama only had a few words to mourn her mother just tweeting: “Lost my beloved mother yesterday, I’m numb.”

According Mr Said Obama, Malik’s uncle, fulfilling the Muslim burial rites within the stipulated time will be a tough call.

“It will be difficult to achieve the deadline with which we are to bury using our Muslim culture because she is in a faraway land, but all we wish for is for her body to be brought back home,” he said.

There were few people at the home yesterday with villagers streaming in one by one to condole with the family, as some casual labourers and relatives helped in cleaning the homestead.