Barack Obama mourning the loss of step-grandmother

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Former U.S. President Barack Obama is mourning the death of his step-grandmother.

Sarah Obama died at a hospital in the city of Kisumu in Kenya, her daughter Marsat Onyango told Kenya's Daily Nation newspaper. She passed away early on Monday at the age of 99 after a short illness.

The former U.S. leader took to Twitter to issue a statement about her passing.

"My family and I are mourning the loss of our beloved grandmother, Sarah Ogwel Onyango Obama, affectionately known to many as 'Mama Sarah' but known to us as 'Dani' or Granny. We will miss her dearly, but we’ll celebrate with gratitude her long and remarkable life," Obama wrote on Twitter besides a photograph of him as a young man with Sarah.

Sarah Obama, affectionately called Granny Sarah by the former president, was the third and youngest wife of Obama's paternal grandfather.

A family spokesman said Mrs Obama had been unwell for a week, and did not die of Covid-19.

Mama Sarah became somewhat of a celebrity in Africa during Obama's time in The White House, with her attending his inauguration in 2009. In his memoir, he referred to her as "Granny" and referenced a trip when he met her in the '80s, and he also mentioned her during his 2014 speech at the U.N. General Assembly.

Kenyan President, Uhuru Kenyatta, paid tribute to Mama Sarah, a passionate advocate for the education of girls and orphans.

He said in a statement: "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."