In a tiny home in a small African village, far away from the glare of the political spotlight, lives the grandmother Barack Obama calls "Mama Sarah."
In an Eyewitness News exclusive, anchor Andrea Morehead takes you on a journey to Kenya to trace the roots of our next president's life. Discover the legacy of his father and hear Mama Sarah's message for her grandson.
Sarah Obama is not a blood relative of Obama's. She is a step-grandmother by virtue of being the second subsequent wife of Barack Obama's grandfather. Obama's campaign rushed out interviews of her during his primary fight with Sen. Hillary Clinton when questions about Obama's Muslim heritage were raised. Sarah Obama rejected claims that Barack was Muslim, although she has only had two brief opportunities to meet Obama during his past visits to Kenya. She also earned a reputation for charging reporters for interviews.
More recently, Sarah Obama made news when attorney Philip Berg, who has filed a lawsuit challenging whether Obama satisfies the "natural born" citizen requirement for being president, claimed he had a recorded telephone conversation with Sarah claiming that she was present for Barack's birth in Kenya, contradicting his claim to be born in Honolulu, Hawaii. Berg's lawsuit is pending before the U.S. Supreme Court after it was tossed by the Eastern District of Pennsylvania district court on the basis that Berg lacked standing to challenge Obama's constitutional qualification to be president. Berg filed a writ of certiorari asking the Supreme Court to review the district court's decision, along with a request for a temporary injunction to halt last Tuesday's presidential election until the issue was decided. Justice David Souter rejected Berg's injunction request; however, he ordered the defendants, including Sen. Obama, to respond to Berg's writ request by December 1, 2008. Berg filed a transcript of the recorded telephone conversation with Sarah Obama as part of his filing with the Supreme Court, but this evidence was not tendered to the district court as part of Berg's complaint for reasons I cannot explain, and I remain unconvinced of the claim after listening to the recording. Sarah Obama speaks Swahili and her spoken words had to be translated into English.
Soon after the Berg controversy over the alleged claim by Sarah Obama that Barack was born in Kenya, it was announced that she and other Kenyan relatives of Obama would cease giving interviews to the media until after the U.S. election. It is unclear when Morehead interviewed the step-grandmother. I suspect Morehead didn't question the 87-year-old about Berg's claims, although it would have added an interesting twist to her interview. The truth is that this woman probably knows much less about Barack than Morehead, or probably many Americans for that matter.
UPDATE: Morehead's report which aired tonight was as deceptive as the teaser ads for it. Her report continued to misrepresent Sarah Obama as Barack Obama's grandmother. His paternal grandmother is dead. Sarah Obama is just one in a succession of four wives taken by Barack's paternal grandfather, a fact conveniently omitted by Morehead's shabby reporting. There was absolutely nothing new in this report. Morehead, of course, didn't ask Mama Obama about the claim she supposedly made to others that Barack was born in Kenya and not Honolulu and that she was present for his birth. A translator was used for the interview so Morehead doesn't have a clue what Sarah Obama really told her. Morehead's report showed armed guards furnished by the Kenyan government outside of Sarah's home, which she says are there 24 hours a day.