US Kenyans Mourn “Auntie” Zeituni Onyango

(Cleveland, Ohio – April 8, 2014)
The United States Kenyan community mourns the loss of Zeituni Onyango, known to her friends as “Auntie,” and half-aunt of President Barack Obama. She was step-sister to President Obama’s late father, Barack Obama, Sr. Ms. Onyango died last night in Boston.

Born in Kogelo Alego Siaya, Kenya, May 29, 1952, Auntie was born under a mango tree, delivered by a midwife, in the complete absence of medical care. Auntie raised a family in Kenya, and worked in the computer department at Kenya Breweries, rising to manage a department of 25 staff.

Having visited the USA twice, the second time visiting her nephew Barack when he was a Senator in Illinois, she moved to South Boston in the year 2000, and sought political asylum. Her case was denied in 2004, and she was nearly deported. In 2008, during her nephew’s run for the presidency, her case was leaked to the press, which reported her illegal status.

To escape scrutiny, she stayed with friends in Cleveland, where she met Dr. Abel Oriri, a pastor, local entrepreneur, and fellow immigrant from Kenya. The Cleveland Kenyan community immediately embraced Auntie, and Dr. Oriri introduced her to prominent immigration attorney, Margaret W. Wong.

Ms. Wong and attorney Scott Bratton helped Auntie win her asylum case with the Immigration Court in Boston and later helped her obtain a green card.

“Auntie was a fine, tall, elegant woman who was very good with computers,” Ms. Wong recalls. “After her vilification by the press during the President’s campaign, she fought hard for her legal status. She loved to travel, mostly by train, and enjoyed taking pictures everywhere she went.”

Auntie wrote her memoirs, entitled, “Tears of Abuse,” which was published in 2012 by Bedford Heights, Ohio, publisher, Afripress Publishing Holdings. She wrote about her family: “The Obama Clan is like the Baobab tree; the strength lies in its roots. The conviction to produce results is cherished….”

Margaret Wong, greatly saddened by Auntie’s passing, said, “Auntie’s kindness and generosity will be sorely missed. Because her homeland was in Kenya, she identified with all foreign born in the United States, though the Kenyan community here in Cleveland had a special place in her heart.”

Auntie Zeituni Onyango had taken ill in January, and passed gently in her sleep.

Margaret W. Wong, Esq., President and Managing Partner,
Margaret W. Wong & Associates, Co., LPA. ● 216-566-9908
3150 Chester Avenue, Cleveland, Ohio 44114

Zeituni’s passing was noted on these sites as well: NYT 8 April 2014Boston GlobeBoston Herald,  USA TodayWashington PostHuffington PostDenver PostCBS Local TV NewsReuters,NY Daily NewsGuardian Liberty VoiceStarAfricaKenya Today and Standard.