The grandmother of former President Obama died in Kenya over the weekend.
Mama Sarah was 99.
According to the Associated Press, Sarah Obama was the third wife of President Obama’s grandfather and helped raise his father, passed away at the Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Teaching and Referral hospital.
“The passing away of Mama Sarah is a big blow to our nation. We’ve lost a strong, virtuous woman. A matriarch who held together the Obama family and was an icon of family values,” President Uhuru Kenyatta said in an official statement. “She was a loving and celebrated philanthropist who graciously shared the little she had with the less fortunate in her community.”
In 2009 she founded the Mama Sara Obama Foundation to provide food and education to orphans — providing school supplies, uniforms, basic medical needs, and school fees.
“I’m very passionate about the importance of children acquiring quality education from their earliest days. I also want to challenge what I see, which is that there are very bright children who have the ability to become the best that they can be in life if they only have some opportunities made available to them,” she said in a 2015 interview with Leaders Magazine.
“Coupled with that, many of these children come from families that cannot afford to do anything; some don’t even have shelter. So through my efforts, I want to offer some shelter for some families and help them acquire housing and food.”
In his book “Dreams from My Father,” Obama affectionately referred to her as “Granny.” President Obama’s half-sister Auma took to Twitter to pay tribute to her grandmother.
“Just lost the most important person in my life – my gran, Mama Sarah,” she wrote. “My heart is broken! But as I write, not able to stop the tears from pouring, I know I was blessed to have her for so long! My inspiration, my rock, my comfort zone, my safe space. Rest in peace Dani!”