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Obama’s Aunt Found Living in Rundown Boston Public Housing!

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From The Times of London, a heart-warming story of family, or at least what it means to be part of millionaire Barack Obama’s family….

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Barack Obama has lived one version of the American dream that has taken him to the steps of the White House. But a few miles from where the Democratic presidential candidate studied at Harvard, his Kenyan aunt and uncle, immigrants living in modest circumstances in Boston, have a contrasting American story.

Zeituni Onyango, the aunt so affectionately described in Obama’s best-selling memoir “Dreams From My Father,” lives in a disabled-access flat on a rundown public housing estate in South Boston.

A second relative believed to be the long-lost “Uncle Omar” described in the book was beaten by armed robbers with a “sawed-off rifle” while working in a corner shop in the Dorchester area of the city. He was later evicted from his one-bedroom apartment for failing to pay $2,324.20 in bills, according to the Boston Housing Court, in spite of the fact Barack Obama is a millionaire and touts family.

The U.S. press has repeatedly rehearsed Obama’s extraordinary odyssey, but the other side of the family’s American experience has only been revealed in parts. Just across town from where Obama made history as the first black president of the Harvard Law Review, some of his closest blood relatives have confronted the harshness of immigrant life in America.

Speaking outside her home in Flaherty Way, South Boston, on Tuesday, Onyango, 56, confirmed she was the “Auntie Zeituni” in Obama’s memoir. She declined to answer most other questions about her relationship with the presidential contender until after the November 4 election. She was warned to keep silent.

“I can’t talk about it, I just pray for him, that’s all,” she said, adding: “After the 4th, I can talk to anyone.”

The Times could not determine their immigration status and an official at Boston City Hall said that Ms Onyango was a resident of Flaherty Way but not registered to vote on the electoral roll. However, that Ms Onyango made a contribution to the Obama campaign would indicate that she is a US citizen. Records at the Boston City Hall confirmed Zeituni Onyango’s birthdate as May 29, 1952.

It is not clear when Ms Onyango first came to the US. She said: “I have been coming to America ever since 1975. I always come and go.”

She is a frail woman who walks with the aid of a metal stick. Neighbours said that she lived alone in a ground-floor flat normally set aside for people facing physical hardship.

An Associated Press story about poor people buying lottery tickets at cheque-cashing shops, from Cambridge, Massachusetts, on May 25, 2003, quotes a Zeituni Onyango whom it describes as out of work and without much money. “It’s like when I feel luck might fall I do that, like manna might come from Heaven. That’s when I buy it,” she told AP.

A staff member at the Boston Housing Authority office, 50 yards from her house, said Ms Onynango had been a volunteer resident health advocate between December 2007 and August this year. She worked six hours a week for a small stipend. Records show she used the housing authority’s address to make her campaign contribution.

Ms Onyango is also listed on the internet as a volunteer with Experience Corps, a programme in which adults over 55 mentor children in their communities. The “former computer systems co-ordinator” tells the group’s online newsletter: “I felt that I should help the children in my community. I love people and enjoy interacting with them . . . Also, I was idle, and this was a chance to get involved.”

A public record search lists an “O. Onyango Obama”, born on June 3, 1944, at 24 Colgate Road whose name matches that of the “Uncle Omar” in Dreams from My Father.

Nelson Ochieng, a cousin of Mr Obama who lives in the Kenyan city of Kisumu, near the family village of Kogelo, said that Omar had changed his first name after moving to the US. “Before he went to America we all knew him as Omar, but he dropped that bit, changing it to Obama Onyango, because he said he preferred his African name,” he said. Gail Greenberger, the landlady who bought the four-storey brick block of flats at a foreclosure sale in 1994, knew her tenant, however, by the name Obama Onyango. “We used to call him ‘Oh-bummer!’. That is how I pronounced Obama in 2000,” she said.

Ms Greenberger said she inherited him with the building but was forced to evict him in 2000 for nonpayment of his rent of about $500 a month. “I remember him being decent but I think he lost his job. When they lose their job, they just stop paying rent. He did not even go to court. He bolted from the apartment,” she said. Records of Boston Housing Court show a “summary process” was executed against Mr Onyango on February 23, 2000, for unpaid rent of $2,324.70.

Mr Onyango was a business partner in a “convenience store” called the Wells Market at 1760 Dorchester Avenue, now a Hispanic bodega, or grocery. Records list him as the treasurer of the corporation, which was set up without his name in 1992 and involuntarily wound up in 2007 after failing to file annual reports since 1997.

In 1994 Obama Onyango was attacked in an armed robbery at the Wells Market, the Boston Herald reported. According to a police report, two masked black males entered the store around 9.30pm on June 7, 1994, and “did assault and beat the victim, and did rob victim of an undetermined amount of US currency. Suspects were believed to be armed with a ‘sawed-off’ rifle, and did flee the area on foot .”

Read the full, 3 page article HERE.

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Written by Ridgeliner7

Thursday, October 30, 2008 at 2:11:18 AM

3 Responses

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  1. […] Obama’s Aunt Found Living in Rundown Boston Neighborhood! From The Times of London, a heart-warming story of family, or at least what it means to be part of millionaire Barack Obama’s family…. . . . […]

  2. I am not surprised.

    marianne
    http://heavenawaits.wordpress.com/

    Marianne

    Thursday, October 30, 2008 at 3:33:50 AM

  3. […] by unknown « Obituaries, Death Notices, Guest Books and Tributes – Inside Bay Area Volunteering […]


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