We here in Boston knew her quite well.
It was her ne’er do well nephew who didn’t know her—or didn’t want to:
Zeituni Onyango — President Obama’s feisty, defiant aunt who successfully fought deportation in a visceral election-year courtroom controversy — died yesterday after a four-month battle with cancer, her immigration attorney said.
Onyango, 61, died at Kindred Nursing and Rehabilitation Harborlights on East 7th Street in South Boston, attorney Margaret Wong told the Herald. Onyango “had taken ill in January, and passed gently in her sleep,” Wong said.
“She’s been ill for quite some time. She didn’t like people to know because she was so strong,” Wong said.
Onyango, a towering figure known as Aunti Zeituni, was born in Kenya and moved to South Boston in 2000. She was denied political asylum in 2004 and was ordered deported, but fought the order and remained in the country. Her case was leaked to the press days before the 2008 presidential election. Judge Leonard I. Shapiro delayed the deportation in 2009 and ultimately reversed the order in 2010. The court case was closed to the press, and Onyango insisted President Obama had no role in Shapiro’s ruling.
The controversy surrounding Onyango was compounded because she lived in South Boston public housing from 2003 onward, including stints at the Old Colony development, the West Broadway project and finally the Monsignor Powers apartments.
She joked about her accommodations, telling a Herald reporter that “beggars can’t be choosers.”
“I’d like to live in a castle and have a limousine,” Onyango said in a 2009 interview. “But I don’t. My health is my wealth.”
Oops. Our condolences to the extended Obama/Onyango family.
Onyango enraged Bostonians in 2010 when, during a sit-down with a local TV reporter, she complained that she was being “treated like public enemy No. 1,” revealed she received monthly disability checks of nearly $700 and insisted that, “If I come as an immigrant, you have the obligation to make me a citizen.”
Onyango also brushed off the 2011 drunken-driving arrest of her brother, Onyango Obama — also an illegal alien — telling a reporter, “Why don’t you go to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. in Washington, D.C., and ask your president? Not me.”
Onyango Obama’s drunken-driving case was continued without a finding, and Shapiro awarded him legal residency in December.
Technically, illegals are forbidden from receiving public benefits—but then technically they are also supposed to be deported for breaking the law. Helps to have nephews in high places.
Funeral arrangements are being handled by Dyer-Lake Funeral Home of North Attleboro, Wong said.
I hope the family comes to pay its respects. The local golf courses are just beginning to open up. And we have a Four Seasons Hotel.
PS: Did you know the late Aunti was a published author?
Not that there is a auntiezeituni.com. At least not anymore.