black women

President Obama’s Aunt Passes Away

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Reported By Liku Zelleke

Zeituni Onyango, the half-aunt of President Barack Obama, has died at the age of 61. According to her lawyer, Margret Wong, she had had been suffering from cancer and respiratory ailments and passed away in her sleep at a rehabilitation hospital.

Ms. Onyango was the stepsister of President Obama’s father, Barack Obama Sr. In his memoir “Dreams from My Father“, the President referred to her as “Aunti Zeituni”. He wrote that she had served as his guide in Kenya during his visit to the country in 1988. She said told him that his father had taken her in when her husband had become abusive and she didn’t have any money.

Ms. Onyango’s name came into prominence when in 2008, during the final days of the 2008 presidential elections, it was leaked that she was in the United States illegally.

She had arrived in the US in 2000 and applied for political asylum in 2002, citing violence in Kenya. Her was case was denied in 2004. She went on living in South Boston, Ma., and retained the legal representation of Ms. Wong.

The Times of London reporters had found her living in what was at the time described as “run-down public housing.” Meanwhile, the President’s aide said that he had not known that she was in the US illegally and that he would not intervene in her case. He recommended that “any and all appropriate laws” applicable to her case should be followed.

Ms. Onyango moved to Cleveland, Oh., to escape the media’s attention. The Kenyan community took her in, Ms. Wong said, and she was later able to get her green card.

“She’s been ill for quite some time. She didn’t like people to know, because she is so strong,” Wong said. “I don’t think she accepted she was dying. She just kept thinking she needs to go on.”

Onyango’s family has taken over the funeral arrangements.