Sarah Onyango Obama

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Sarah Onyango Obama
Sarah Okech

c. 1922 (age 95–96)
ResidenceNyang'oma Kogelo, Siaya County, Kenya
Other namesSarah Obama
Sarah Ogwel
Sarah Hussein Obama
Sarah Anyango Obama
Known forU.S. President Barack Obama's step-grandmother
Spouse(s)Hussein Onyango Obama
Parent(s)Omar Okech
RelativesMalia and Sasha Obama (step-great-granddaughters)
Home of Sarah Onyango Obama in village Nyang'oma Kogelo in Siaya County, Kenya, 19 August 2016

Sarah Onyango Obama (born 1921-1922) is a Kenyan educator and philanthropist. She is the third wife of the paternal grandfather of U.S. president Barack Obama.[1] She is known for short as Sarah Obama; she is sometimes referred to as Sarah Ogwel, Sarah Hussein Obama, or Sarah Anyango Obama.[2] She lives in Nyang'oma Kogelo village, 30 miles west of western Kenya's main town, Kisumu, on the edge of Lake Victoria.[3][4][5]

Although she is not a blood relation, Barack Obama calls her "Granny Sarah".[2][6] Sarah, who speaks Luo and only a few words of English, communicates with President Obama through an interpreter.

On July 4, 2008, Sarah Obama attended the United States Independence Day celebrations in Nairobi, hosted by Michael Ranneberger, the U.S. ambassador in Kenya.[7]

During the U.S. presidential campaign, she protested attempts to portray Obama as a foreigner to the United States or as a Muslim, saying that while Obama's grandfather had been a Muslim, "In the world of today, children have different religions from their parents."[8] Sarah Obama is "a strong believer of the Islamic faith", in her words.[9]

On November 19, 2014, Sarah Obama received the Pioneer Award from the United Nations for the work of an education foundation that she heads, as a part of Women’s Entrepreneurship Day.[10][11]


  1. ^ Oywa, John (August 15, 2004). "Kenya: Special Report: Sleepy Little Village Where Obama Traces His Own Roots (Page 2 of 2)". Retrieved March 24, 2013.
  2. ^ a b Crilly, Rob (February 27, 2008). "Dreams from Obama's Grandmother". Time Magazine, Inc. Retrieved July 3, 2008.
  3. ^ Pflanz, Mike (January 11, 2008). "Barack Obama's Kenyan relatives keep faith". The Daily Telegraph. London.
  4. ^ Fornek, Scott (September 9, 2007). "Sarah Obama – 'Sparkling, laughing eyes'". Chicago Sun-Times.
  5. ^ "In Kenya, Barack Obama's family prays for end to conflict – Times Online". The Times. London. Retrieved March 24, 2013.
  6. ^ "Barack Obama in Kenya". CNN.
  7. ^ Daily Nation, July 8, 2008: "Obama granny's day out with envoys and top politicians" Archived 2008-07-15 at the Wayback Machine., Daily Nation, July 8, 2008
  8. ^ Houreld, Katharine (March 5, 2008). "Obama's grandma slams 'untruths'". USA Today. Associated Press. Retrieved May 2, 2010. See also this correction.
  9. ^ Kantor, Jodi (April 30, 2007). "A Candidate, His Minister and the Search for Faith". The New York Times. Retrieved May 2, 2010.
  10. ^ "Obama's Step-Grandmother Continues Educating Young Kenyans", NPR (November 22, 2014).
  11. ^ "Obama matriarch gets UN education award". Daily Mail. London. November 19, 2014. Retrieved April 6, 2015.