Obama's US-based aunt given Islamic burial in Kenya

By Yassin Juma, Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Zeitun Onyango died at a Boston rehabilitation center recently

Zeitun Onyango died at a Boston rehabilitation center recently

KISUMU, Kenya – The recently deceased aunt of U.S. President Barack Obama on Tuesday was given an Islamic burial in her home country of Kenya shortly after her body was flown back from the U.S.

"We have buried the late Zeitun Onyango in accordance with the regulations of Islam," Sheikh Musa Ismail, a Muslim cleric who led the funeral prayers, told Anadolu Agency at the Sunni Muslim cemetery in the port city of Kisumu.

Her body was washed and wrapped in accordance with Islamic tradition.

Onyango was buried in the lakeside city hours after her body arrived from the U.S. earlier Tuesday.

"We had to find the body a resting place as soon as possible, as it has been weeks since she died," Sheikh Ismail said.

"It is the right of the Muslim dead to be buried as soon as possible, without delay."

Onyango died at a Boston rehabilitation center recently.

Despite being the aunt of the U.S. president, Onyango had to fight a legal battle to save her from being deported for being in the U.S. illegally.

She was mentioned in Obama's autobiography, "Dreams from My Father," which recounts Obama's quest to know his Kenyan roots.

President Obama is the son of a Kenyan father, Hussein Obama, and an American white woman, Ann Dunham.

-Tight Security-

There was tight security at the cemetery for fear that Ebel Mboya Okoko, a Christian man claiming he was Onyango's husband, might try to disrupt the burial.

Okoko went to court last week demanding custody of Onyango and the right to bury her.

Feisal, Onyango's firstborn son and Obama's cousin, said it was absurd for Okoko to make the claim – that he was her husband – after her death.

"All we want to do now is lay our mother in peace and Alhamdulillah [thank God] we're grateful that we have done that," he told AA.

Obama's grandmother, Sarah, viewed the body before it was taken to the cemetery, but was not present at the grave in accordance with Islamic rites.

An uncle to President Obama, meanwhile, downplayed media reports that the Obama family was divided over Onyango's death and burial.

"The Obama family remains united," Said Obama said outside the cemetery. "There is no rift in our family. It was all a very big lie."

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