East Africa

Family drama as Obama’s grandma is laid to rest

Mama Sarah Obama laid to rest in Kenya - died aged 99, just 23 days shy of her 100th birthday, which falls on April 22.

There was a slight altercation between members of the Obama family after a section of Mama Sarah’s kin was barred from entering the home where the burial was taking place on Tuesday morning.

The commotion started after security officers placed barricades about 70 metres from the home in a bid to control who comes in. Even the media had difficulty accessing the home after journalists were told to set up their equipment almost 100 metres away.

It was amid this tight security that a section of the Obama matriarch’s family, who came from Kendu Bay in their tens, found themselves barred from accessing the home they once had unlimited access to after being asked to produce their invitations.

“We have driven all the way to mourn our grandmother. The home to which I had unlimited access is now a sacred place that not even me, the late’s granddaughter, can access to mourn her in peace,” protested Ms Hildah Were, Mama Sarah’s grandchild.

Together with a group of about 15, the dejected family members protested outside the home while claiming there was discrimination in the manner in which the family inside was allowing guests in.

“They are locking out family members from accessing the home and allowing politicians. It is embarrassing and disgusting to say the least. Even women who are to dress Mama Sarah are still locked outside here,” complained Ms Were.

Muslim women making ‘sanda’, the burial gown for Mama Sarah Obama

The family is divided into two with others now at Kogelo in Siaya and others in Kendu Bay, Rachuonyo District, where the great grandfather was buried.

Obama’s great grandfather is said to have left Alego in Siaya and settled at Kanyadhiang in Kendu Bay where the grandfather, Hussein Onyango Obama, was brought up.

Funeral organisers insisted that only 30 people were to be allowed inside the compound due to Covid-19 restrictions.

Leaders present at the burial are Rachael Omamo, Cabinet Secretary for Defense, Siaya Governor Cornel Rasanga and his Kisumu counterpart Prof Anyang Nyong’o.

The CS arrived at around 9.45 am in a military chopper and the two governors arrived 10 minutes later. By the time the CS came in, she could not view the body which was still being washed and dressed.

By 9am, the grave where Mama Sarah would be laid to rest beside her husband, Hussein Onyango Obama, was ready.

By 10.20am, everybody was ready seated but the funeral ceremony was yet to commence.

However, organisers from the Muslim community maintained that when it reaches noon, they will be bury Mama Sarah according to religious dictates.



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