Former US President Barack Obama’s step-grandmother Sarah Obama marks her 97th birthday today in a low-key event that is unlikely to attract media coverage.
Mama Sarah, wearing a broad smile, says she is still upbeat about life despite the general demands of ageing catching up with her.
“I still feel young at heart, I can still dance very well like I did when I was a young girl,” Mama Sarah, as she is popularly known, joked recently when the Nation visited her in the now vibrant Nyang’oma Village in Kogelo, Siaya County.
Decked out in a golden bracelet, earrings, necklace and a flowing African print dress, commonly known as Ankara, she effortlessly oozed grace and elegance, radiating the Obama matriarch air.
Marsat, her fifth born daughter, said Mama Sarah follows her family’s local and global events including those touching on her famous grandson.
“Her message to Kenyans has always been that we live together as one,” Marsat said, adding that fish and milk were her favourite foods which could also be the secret to her long healthy life.
Since President Obama left office, Mama Sarah, has kept a low profile instead, concentrating on her philanthropic activities, mostly in Kogelo village where a Sh2 million house was constructed for her.
“She helps orphans, vulnerable children and widows,” said Marsat, speaking from Mama Sarah’s well guarded and serene compound.
“She also wants young people to work hard and use their pens and paper to secure themselves a brighter future.”
Sarah, the third wife of Obama’s paternal grandfather, was thrust into the limelight in 2004 when Obama won the Illinois senatorial seat making him a rising star in the US’s Democratic Party.
The historic victory led to the reissue of Obama’s memoir Dreams From My Father, in which he fondly mentions Mama Sarah as he narrates his first trip to Kenya in search of his roots.
In the book, Obama refers to Mama Sarah fondly as “granny.