Former US President Barack Obama has said that the family will celebrate with thanksgiving the long and remarkable life of his grandmother, Mama Sarah.
Mama Sarah died early Monday at the Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Hospital in Kisumu. She was aged 99.
“My family and I are mourning the loss of our beloved grandmother, Sarah Ogwel Onyango Obama, affectionately known to many as “Mama Sarah” but known to us as “Dani” or Granny. We will miss her dearly, but we’ll celebrate with gratitude her long and remarkable life,” said Obama on his Twitter page.
Mama Sarah, who should have been buried on Monday in accordance with Islamic rites, will be laid to rest on Tuesday, March 30 at K’Ogelo.
The family requested to delay the burial to give ample time to transport the body from Kisumu to Siaya and allow members of the public pay their last respects.
Her body arrived at the Nyangoma village on Monday at 12:47 where a huge crowd had thronged her home to console the family.
Some of the mouners had to be blocked from accessing the home by the police in accordance with strict COVID-19 protocols to avoid the spread of the virus among the crowd. Mama Sarah did not die of Covid-19.
Her daughter, Masat Obama, told the press she has not yet come to terms with her mother’s death.
“My mother, you had a beautiful soul, you were an umbrella to many, an institution that enhanced livelihoods of widows. It is sad to lose you,” Masat said eulogising her mother.
Mama Sarah partnered with Safeguard Orphans and Widows Organization (SOWO), a charity organisation catering to orphans and widows in the area.
Among leaders who condoled the family included President Uhuru Kenyatta, opposition leader Raila Odinga, Deputy President William Ruto, Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka and Siaya First Lady Rosella Rasanga.
“This is a trying moment for the affected families and we pray for God’s strength and comfort,” said the Siaya First Lady Rasanga.
Mama Sarah, through her partnership with SOWO, managed to feed and clothe orphans in various schools including Nyadhi Primary School and Barack Obama Secondary School.
It’s through her that widows in Kogello started a thriving table banking initiative.
Nyangoma Kogello center and environs had benefitted from electricity, tarmac roads and a police station because of Mama Sarah’s influence and work.
However, Siaya OCPD said they are working closely with Chief Ogutu Ojala to block locals from accessing the home of Mama Sarah, saying that they were implementing the government’s 50 person directive for burials.
“We are new here but will enforce the health protocols to tame the spread of Covid 19,” said the Siaya OCPD.