Saturday, April 18, 2009

Christians lose the battle for Sarah Obama’s soul

The Kenyan relatives of US President Barack Obama  (from right), Norah Otieno, Consolata Oguma and Raphael Sidede with visiting Australian evangelist John Jeremic during a service organised by the Seventh Day Adventist Church at the Kenyatta Sports Ground in Kisumu on Saturday. Organisers of  service had scheduled to convert Mama Sarah Obama to Christianity  Photo/ DAN OBIERO

The Kenyan relatives of US President Barack Obama (from right), Norah Otieno, Consolata Oguma and Raphael Sidede with visiting Australian evangelist John Jeremic during a service organised by the Seventh Day Adventist Church at the Kenyatta Sports Ground in Kisumu on Saturday. Organisers of service had scheduled to convert Mama Sarah Obama to Christianity Photo/ DAN OBIERO 

By DANIEL OTIENO

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).

Changed her mind

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.

Any value

“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.

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