Former US First Lady Michelle Obama painted a picture of her first encounter with Mama Sarah Obama in 1991 when she visited Kogello for the first time with his then-fiancee, Barack Obama. In her memoir, Becoming, Mrs. Obama describes her visit in the Siaya village and the warmth of Sarah Obama, who approved of her and made her feel protected.
”Granny Sarah, they called her. She was a short, wide-built lady with wise eyes and a crinkling smile. She spoke no English, only Luo and expressed delight that we had come all this way to see her,” she writes.
”She studied me with an extra, bemused curiosity, as if trying to place where I came from and how precisely I’d landed on her doorstep,” she says.
Mama Sarah’s first question to her, she writes, was; “Which one of your parents is white?”
“She seemed to find everything funny, teasing Barrack for not being able to speak her language. I was bowled over by her easy joy,” she recalls.
When the night fell, she says, Mama Sarah slaughtered- Michelle says “butchered”- a chicken and made them a stew which she served with Ugali. Neighbors and relatives also flocked the homestead to see them.
“I gobbled the food gratefully as the sun dropped and night settled over the village, which had no electricity, leaving a bright spray of stars overhead,” she writes.