FORMER US President Barack Obama‘s stepmother, Kezia Aoko Obama (pictured), has died, her daughter has said. She was 81-years-old.
Auma Obama, who is the former president’s half-sister, made the announcement on Twitter on Wednesday morning.
‘Lost my beloved mother yesterday. I’m numb,’ she wrote.
Kezia Obama was the first wife of Obama’s father, Barack Obama Sr. He later married Obama’s mother, Stanley Ann Dunham. The 81-year-old was also mother to Malik Obama, Sadik Obama and Mustapha Abo.
Kezia Obama was originally from Kenya but relocated to Berkshire in the U.K. and was reportedly receiving treatment in the country at the time of her death, according to Citizen TV, a Kenyan news outlet.
A BBC News profile in 2009 described Kezia Obama as a ‘bingo-loving grandmother who lives in a council house in Berkshire.’ She became a minor celebrity as a result of Barack Obama’s presidential campaign.
‘I first met Barack Junior in Nairobi in 1987,’ Obama told BBC at the time. ‘He reminded me of my husband. I was remembering, thinking about my husband, Barack Senior, because he looked like Barack Senior.
‘And he was just smart like Barack Senior, talking like Barack Senior,’ she said. ‘He just wanted to talk to people. To know about what his father was doing in Kenya and then about Kenya, about politics. Just to know everybody in Kenya.’
It was her daughter Auma who initially moved to the UK. Her mother followed her there, settling in the small English town of Bracknell. Auma Obama later returned to Kenya but Kezia Obama remained in England.
She attended her stepson’s inauguration in 2009 but explained that she had no interest in moving to the US as she was firmly based in Bracknell.
‘I’m going to go to Washington, DC I’m going to go to the White House, but not to stay there,’ she said. ‘I want to live in Bracknell. I just live here.’
Kezia Obama is a Muslim but it’s not yet clear if she will be buried on Wednesday. Burials soon after death are typical in Islamic tradition but no details have yet been announced about the arrangements.
Her death comes just weeks after the passing of the former president’s step-grandmother, Sarah Obama, who was 99-years-old.
She was undergoing treatment at the Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Teaching and Referral Hospital in Kisumu, Kenya at the time.