President-elect Barack Obama’s Kenyan stepgrandmother will be among the millions of people in Washington for the Inauguration.
Sarah Obama, the stepmother of Obama’s Kenyan-born father, will join representatives from the Kenyan government, African Union and African diplomats for an unofficial inaugural ball on Jan. 20, organizers said Monday. Kenya’s foreign minister and the Boys Choir of Kenya also plan to travel to the United States for the invitation-only event at a Washington-area hotel.
Obama’s inaugural committee did not have an immediate comment.
Obama was born in Hawaii to a white mother from Kansas and a black father from Kenya. Obama’s father left when he a child and died in 1982. Obama was not especially close to his African family although he last visited them on a 2006 trip to Kenya. Obama referred to Sarah Obama as “Granny” in his memoir.
In “Dreams from My Father,” Obama described meeting Sarah Obama during his 1988 trip to his father’s homeland, earning a handshake as a greeting and awkwardness as they struggled to communicate.
“Our mutual vocabulary exhausted, we stared ruefully down at the dirt until (half-sister) Auma finally returned,” Obama writes in “Dreams from My Father.”
“And Granny then turned to Auma and said, in a tone I could understand, that it pained her not to be able to speak to the son of her son.”
Sarah Obama lives in a house in the western Kenya village of Kogelo without electricity and speaks only the local Luo language and some Swahili. She has visited the United States twice before.