The Standard, Kenya
'My Life with Obama
"He asked to dance with me
during a party and I couldn't turn him down. He picked me out of several girls
that were there. A few days later, I married him ... He paid 14 cows as dowry
for me, which were delivered in two batches. That was because he loved me so
-- Grace Keziah Obama, First Wife
of Barack Obama Sr.
By John Oywa
November 11, 2008
- The Standard - Original Article (English)
On the day that U.S.
President-elect Barack Obama and and his wife Michelle
were treated to a visit to the White House, Obamaís stepmother broke her
silence on life with the Senatorís father.
Obama, 67, who now lives in Bracknell, U.K., but who is
currently visiting the rest of the family in Kogelo
[Kenya], says her late husband - who also known as Barack Obama - was a loving
man with a taste for the good things in life. She says he also spoke his mind
and liked the truth.
Speaking to The Standard
at her house in Kogelo, Keziah
narrated how she met Obama Senior at a village dance party deep in the rugged
plains of Karachuonyo.
She was only 16 and attending
school. She had no idea that the young man courting her that Christmas night in
1956, would one day father the future president of the most powerful nation on
earth. Keziah says Obama Senior was so handsome and
stylish that she couldn't resist his advances.
"During the party he
asked me to dance and I couldn't turn him down. He picked me out from several
girls. A few days later, I married him," Keziah
says, her face beaming with nostalgia. "He paid 14 cows as a dowry, which were delivered in two batches. This was
because he loved me so greatly," she says.
As she spoke, Obama was to
meet U.S. President George W Bush for consultations in the White House ahead of
his inauguration on January 20. First Lady Laura was to show Michelle around
their soon-to-be residence. Obama made history by winning the U.S. election on
November 4, becoming the first African-American to serve in the Oval Office.
Back in Kogelo,
Keziah told this reporter about her first meeting
with Obama Senior.
Apparently, Obama Senior had
gone visiting his relatives in Karachuonyo in South
Nyanza when he met her at the party. He was the first-born son of Mzee Hussein Onyango. Now, 52
years on, Keziah looks back at her days with Obama
Senior with a sense of amusement at the turn of events that would later shape
NEVER A DULL MOMENT
She first met her stepson, U.S.
President-elect Barack Obama, when he visited Kogelo
village in 1988. Keziah says she was "delighted
to see him" and that they have since communicated on a number of occasions.
LADY KILLERS: Obama Junior and Senior
"When I look at my
stepson, he reminds me of his father. They share very many characteristics. Like
father, like son, I would say," she says. "He was forthright and
loved the truth. This is what I'm seeing in his son," Keziah
says, adding that just like Barack, his father was a great speaker, out-going, colorful
"I never had a dull
moment with him. He liked fun and loved good things. Which is why I wasn't
surprised when I heard that he had married a second wife in the U.S.," she
Keziah explains how her husband Obama was such a great
dancer that he often took her out for live band performances to as far off as Kendu Bay.
"We used to carry our
first born baby (Malik) with us and put him to sleep
in a cot as we danced," she says.
In 1964, during the famous
airlifts organized by late Planning Minister Tom Mboya,
Obama Senior left for the United States for further studies. "I remember
escorting him to the Jomo Kenyatta International
Airport, Nairobi, then known as Embakasi airport,"
she says. "He asked me to take care of our then only child, Malik Abongo, who was six years
old. I was pregnant with our second - Rita Auma."
After arriving in the United
States, however, her husband fell in love with another woman - Ann Dunham (Barackís
mother - who he later married). In keeping with the Luo
custom, Obama Senior sought her consent to take another wife, which she granted.
Keziah says she was happy to have a co-wife, and that her
husband kept her updated. He informed her when Barack Obama Junior was born. She
says that despite her husband marrying another woman, she still loved him.
"He used to send me
gifts, money and clothes through the post office. Many people envied me," she
said. "He returned to Kenya at the end of 1964 and we moved to Shauri Moyo estate in Nairobi,"
she says. She gave birth to two more sons - Mustapha Nyandega
and Sadik Otieno, born in 1968
and 1971 respectively.
|President to be Barack Obama Jr., and his mother, Ann Dunham|
Life continued to be good for
them until things took a turn in 1984 when her husband died in a car accident
in Nairobi. Keziah says she was devastated and that
from then on, life was never the same. For example, she had to relocate to be
with her daughter Auma in the United Kingdom where
she has been undergoing treatment.
Her eldest son Malik, 50, is a businessman and frequently speaks with "Obama
Junior", his stepbrother. "The last time I spoke with him was a few
hours before the election. He was upbeat and assured me that he would win,"
Posted by WORLDMEETS.US
Malik remembers how the U.S. President-elect asked him on
two occasions to represent the family at his functions in the United States. "I
represented our late father at Barackís wedding when he married Michelle in 1992.
It was a wonderful occasion," Malik says.
In 2005, Malik
was back in the U.S. again when he and Mama Sarah, his step-grandmother,
attended Obama Juniorís inauguration as senator for Illinois in Chicago. "His
victory is the biggest honor the American people have given us in this century,"
Malik says celebrations that began soon after Obama
juniorís election victory were still going on. "We continue to receive
visitors and are quite happy. We have slaughtered many bulls; meanwhile, the
party continues Ö" concluded Malik.
WORLDMEETS.US November 11, 10:29pm]