Saturday, 2:15 PM
Obama campaign confirms his aunt lives in Boston
(Evan Richman/Globe Staff)
The home at 111 Flaherty Way in South Boston where Barack Obama's aunt lives.
By Michael Levenson, Globe Staff
Barack Obama's presidential campaign confirmed today that a woman who has been living quietly in a South Boston public housing complex, far from the bustle of the presidential race, is the senatorís aunt.
Ben LaBolt, a campaign spokesman, declined to comment further on the Democratic presidential nomineeís relationship with Zeituni Onyango, who has been living for several years in city public housing.
Onyango, who is paid a small stipend for working as a health advocate in her public housing complex, has shunned attention. This morning, she said nothing and ignored a television camera and several reporters as she walked out of her first-floor apartment, handed a duffle bag to the driver of a taxicab, and was driven off.
Onyango is Obama's paternal aunt, one of several children of the senator's grandfather, Hussein Onyango Obama. In his memoir, "Dreams From My Father," Obama refers to Onyango affectionately as ďAunt ZeituniĒ and recalls that she was the first person to greet him when he stepped off a plane and arrived for the first time in Kenya.
"'Welcome home,' Zeituni said, kissing me on both cheeks," Obama wrote.
During visits to her building Wednesday morning and afternoon, and in a telephone conversation Wednesday night, Onyango made clear her desire to stay out of the way of her nephew's campaign.
"I'm proud of everybody," she said. "I ask God to bless everybody."
She said she wanted to wait to tell her story in full. "We'll talk after the election," she said. "Come talk to me after the fifth."
A city housing official who visited Onyango this week found the walls of her apartment adorned with photographs of Obama, including some that appeared to be more than two decades old.
"She's been with us five years, and she's been a model resident," said William McGonigle, deputy director of the Boston Housing Authority. "She did a remarkable job as a resident health advocate."
Federal Election Commission records show Onyango donated at least five times to the her nephew's campaign in July and September of this year. Three of the donations were for $5 apiece, and two of the donations were for $25. Records compiled by The Huffington Post show she gave a total of $260 to the campaign.