U.S. President Barack Obama’s aunt Zeituni Onyango has died at the age of 61 in Boston, reports WBZ. During the later years of her life, Onyango became a huge part of the dialogue on immigration reform. At the time of her death she was living in public housing in South Boston.
Here’s you need to know:
1. Zeituni ‘Refused to Accept That She Was Dying’
— easyfm (@easy_fm) March 13, 2014
She was pictured sick in hospital back in March. CBS Boston reports that she had been in hospital since January 2014 and that she passed peacefully in her sleep. Her attorney, Margaret Ward, told The Boston Herald:
She’s been ill for quite some time. She didn’t like people to know, because she is so strong. I don’t think she accepted she was dying. She just kept thinking she needs to go on.
Wong went on to state that funeral arrangements may be complicated due to her estrangement from certain members of her family.
2. She Lived in the U.S. Since 2000
In 2000, Onyango, a native of Kenya, came to the U.S. illegally. She was seeking status as a refugee. Her case was denied in 2004 but she remained in the U.S. Onyango stated that she couldn’t afford to leave when she was ordered to.
3. Her Case Became an Issue in the 2008 Election
Just days before the 2008 U.S. Presidential election, her case was leaked to the media in attempts to smear her nephew.
4. Zeituni Was Mentioned Frequently in ‘Dreams of my Father’
She was the half-sister of Barack Obama Sr. In President Obama’s book Dreams of my Father, she’s referred to as “Aunt Zeituni.”
5. As of 2010, She Was No Longer Illegal
On May 17, 2010, she was granted a waiver of deportation and died as a legal resident of her adopted homeland, reports The New York Times. According to the White House, President Obama played no role in her gaining legal status.