Auma Obama
Obama in 2012
Born1960 (age 60–61)
CitizenshipKenyan, British
EducationGerman Film and Television Academy
Alma materHeidelberg University (BA)
University of Bayreuth (PhD)
OccupationCommunity activist, sociologist, journalist, author
Years active1980–present
Known forCommunity activism
Parent(s)Barack Obama Sr.
Kezia Obama
RelativesBarack Obama (brother)
Malik Obama (brother)

Rita Auma Obama (born 1960), is a Kenyan-British community activist, sociologist, journalist, author, and half-sister of the 44th president of the United States, Barack Obama. Obama serves as the executive chairwoman of Sauti Kuu Foundation (Strong Voices Foundation), a non-profit organisation that helps orphans and other young people struggling with poverty in Kenya.[1][2][3]

Background and education

Auma Obama is the daughter of Barack Obama Sr. and his first wife, Kezia Obama (née Aoko).[4][5][6] She is the older half-sister of Barack Obama. After attending local elementary and secondary schools, she secured a scholarship to attend university in Germany. She studied German at Heidelberg University from 1981 until 1987. After her graduation from Heidelberg, she went on for graduate studies at the University of Bayreuth, graduating with a Doctor of Philosophy degree in 1996.[2] She also studied at the German Film and Television Academy in Berlin.[7] Obama's final project at the Film Academy was the twenty-minute film All That Glitters (1993), which blends genre conventions in depicting the vulnerability of black lives in post-unification Germany.[8]

Life after school

Obama lived in the United Kingdom after her studies. While there, she helped her mother, Kezia, to relocate from Kenya to the UK.[5] Kezia was granted British citizenship in 2011.[4]

In 1996, Obama married an Englishman, Ian Manners. They are the parents of Akinyi Manners (born 1997). Obama and Manners divorced in 2000.[2][9] In 2007, Obama and Akinyi relocated to Kenya.[10]

Obama worked for five years in Kenya with the international charity organisation CARE International before starting her own charity, Sauti Kuu Foundation, sometimes referred to as Auma Obama Foundation.[11]

In 2021 she danced in the German dance show Let's Dance, the German version of Dancing with the Stars. She reached 5th place.[12]

Other considerations

In 2011, Obama was interviewed for Turk Pipkin's documentary Building Hope and was the subject of a German documentary film The Education of Auma Obama. In 2017, Obama was honoured with the fourth International TÜV Rheinland Global Compact Award in Cologne.[13] At the award ceremony, she received a specially made bronze sculpture Der Griff nach den Sternen (Reaching for the stars) by artist Hannes Helmke.[14] Obama is the author of the book And Then Life Happens, released in 2012 by St. Martin's Press.[11]

Obama is a member of the World Future Council. She is also a member of the board of trustees of the Germany Reading Foundation, as well as a member of the advisory board of the Bayreuth Academy of Advanced African Studies at the University of Bayreuth. She serves on the council of the Kilimanjaro Initiative in Nairobi. Since 2014, Dr. Obama has been the patron of the International Storymoja Festivals in Kenya. She is also the initiator of the Sauti Kuu Act Now Awards.[15]


  1. ^ Tom Odhiambo, and Stella Cerono (25 July 2015). "Why Auma holds special place in her famous brother's life". Daily Nation. Nairobi. Retrieved 28 June 2018.
  2. ^ a b c Gathmann, Florian; Gregor Peter Schmitz; Jochen Schönmann (24 July 2008). "Studentin in der Bundesrepublik: Wie Auma Obama mit Deutschland haderte". Der Spiegel (in German). Hamburg. Retrieved 28 June 2018.
  3. ^ "The Farmer and His Prince" Staff (2012). "Dr. Auma Obama: Background". Munich: Retrieved 28 June 2018.
  4. ^ a b Kepher Otieno, and George Olwenya (4 November 2008). "Fascinating story of Obama family". The Standard. Nairobi. Archived from the original (Archived from the Original) on 17 August 2009. Retrieved 28 June 2018.
  5. ^ a b Walker, Tim (13 December 2011). "Barack Obama's stepmother, Kezia Obama, is granted British citizenship". The Telegraph. London. Retrieved 28 June 2018.
  6. ^ Barkham, Patrick. "Barack Obama: My stepson, the president". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 2 February 2009.
  7. ^ Dialog International (29 July 2008). "Auma Obama, Barack's German Connection". Retrieved 28 June 2018.
  8. ^ Layne, Priscilla (1 December 2018). "All That Glitters Isn't GoldAuma Obama's Nightmare of Postunification Germany". Camera Obscura: Feminism, Culture, and Media Studies. 33 (3 (99)): 75–101. doi:10.1215/02705346-7142188. ISSN 0270-5346.
  9. ^ BBC Staff (28 May 2009). "Obama relative 'to stand as MP'". London: British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). Retrieved 28 June 2018.
  10. ^ Ridley, Jane (30 March 2009). "President Obama's British Step-mom, Kezia Obama, proud her son is meeting Queen". The New York Daily News. London. Retrieved 28 June 2018.
  11. ^ a b Sachs, Andrea (4 March 2012). "Auma Obama on Her Famous Brother, Their Instant Connection and Her New Memoir". Time. New York City. Retrieved 28 June 2018.
  12. ^ "Auma Obama fliegt bei „Let's Dance" 2021 nach Show 10 raus". RTL. Retrieved 28 May 2021.
  13. ^ TÜV Rheinland (2017). "Prizes of the Foundation: International TÜV Rheinland Global Compact Award" (Translated from the Original German). TÜV Rheinland. Retrieved 28 June 2018.
  14. ^ TÜV Rheinland (2017). "International TÜV Rheinland Global Compact Award im Überblick" (PDF) (in German). TÜV Rheinland. Retrieved 28 June 2018.
  15. ^ World Future Council (March 2021). "Profile of Dr. Auma Obama". Hamburg, Germany: World Future Council. Retrieved 6 March 2021.