Sunday, April 19, 2009


Attempts to convert US President Barack Obama’s grand mother to Christianity flopped on Saturday at the 11th hour after family members opposed the move. Although Mama Sarah Obama had dressed up for the day, her son, Saidi Obama, and other family members were adamant that she would not attend a baptism ceremony organised by the Seventh Day Adventist Church (SDA).

Mr Saidi said that they were opposed to the move to take Mama Sarah to church since she is a Muslim. “I was opposed to it because I believe she was not fully informed about what they were going to do to her. I personally asked her not to attend the function,” he said.

On Saturday, SDA Pastor Tom Obuya arrived at Mama Sarah’s Nyang’oma Kogello home to take her to the Jomo Kenyatta Sports ground where the ceremony was to take place. However, he found she had changed her mind on instructions from Mr Saidi. Pastor Obuya said that the church had been reaching out to Mama Sarah for the past three weeks. “Mama Sarah had assured us that she was converting, and we were ready to baptise her today, but it seems the family has prevailed upon her,” said Pastor Obuya.

The security detail at her home confirmed that there had been arrangements for Mama Sarah to travel the 100 kilometres to Kisumu, but said that apart from the fact that they were to escort her, they did not know much else about the visit.

“I did not understand why they were asking her to attend a Christian ceremony, yet she is a Muslim. I thought her presence in the church would not add any value,” Mr Saidi said.

Family sources told the Sunday Nation that Mama Sarah had prepared for the ceremony and among those who were to accompany her were sisters-in-law Norah Otieno and Consolata Oguna. Also, the 30 members of the Nyang’oma Seventh Day Adventist Church had hired a vehicle to take them to Kisumu so they could welcome Mama Sarah to their congregation. Her baptism was to mark the end of a three-week convention by the church in Kisumu. Mr Saidi said that apart from the faith aspect, Mama Sarah had knee complications that would make travelling such a long distance uncomfortable.

“She would also have attracted unnecessary attention which is not good for her,” he said.

Meanwhile, United States President Barack Obama could visit Kenya as early as August this year to attend the Eighth forum of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa). Mr Obama is expected to use the AGOA conference to make his first trip to the African continent since he was elected US President. He could also be visiting again during the 9th Leon H. Sullivan Summit scheduled to be held in July 2010. The summit is to be attended by an estimated 1,500 African-American businessmen.
Mr Thuita Mwangi, the Foreign Affairs Permanent Secretary had said President Kibaki would invite President Obama to attend both conferences.
Obama's father hailed from Kenya.