President Barack Obama has skipped the funeral of his aunt, Zeituni Onyango, to play golf–even though the 61-year-old was critical to his trip to Kenya as a young man, and featured prominently in the first of his two memoirs, Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance. “Aunt Zeituni,” as he called her, had guided Obama around his father’s ancestral homeland and introduced him to many of his long-lost relatives.
Tellingly, Zeituni reminded Obama, according to Dreams: “If everyone is family, then no one is family.”
Late in the 2008 campaign, the Boston Globe revealed that “Auntue Zeituni,” who was Obama’s father’s half-sister, had been living illegally in Boston in public housing for several years–a rare and belated case of media interest in Obama’s background. She attended Obama’s first inauguration and was granted asylum in 2010.
Update: The Kenyan Daily Nation reported earlier this month that the Obama family plans to transport Ms. Oyango’s body to Kenya for burial, ending an apparent controversy over whether Onyango wished her body to remain in the U.S. The Weekly Standard and New York Times report that despite missing the funeral, President Obama has helped the family with funeral costs, as well as sending his formal condolences.