Dr. Auma Obama
Germanist, sociologist, Founder and Director of the Sauti Kuu Foundation
DAAD Scholarship 1980–1987, DAAD PhD Scholarship 1988–1990, DAAD PhD Scholarship 1993–1994
Germany really influenced and impressed me, and that contributed to turning me into what I am.
When American Presidential Candidate Barack Obama came to Berlin on an official visit in July 2008, Germany's newspapers were full of reports on him. But the media interest also focused on his sister Auma Obama who had lived, studied and worked for 16 years in Germany. The siblings met shortly after the accidental death of their common father. That was when she visited him in the United States. A few years later, she travelled with him across Kenya in a VW Beetle, showing him the home of his ancestors. Since then, the two siblings have had a close relationship, Auma also campaigning for Barack Obama in the Democratic primaries.
Auma Obama was born in a Kenyan village in 1960 and already started learning German at the Goethe-Institut in Nairobi at the age of 17. In 1980, she came to study German at Heidelberg with a DAAD scholarship and graduated with a Magister Artium degree in 1987. In 1988, she began, once again funded by the DAAD, to do a doctorate at the University of Bayreuth, eventually gaining her doctoral degree there in 1996. She wrote her dissertation on the concept of work in German and Kenyan literature and culture.
As a student, she already gained practical experience of everyday life in Germany. She took on casual work at a hospital, a supermarket, and as an interpreter at fairs and exhibitions. In the late 1980s, she briefly worked in Kenya as a contract lecturer for German at the Goethe-Institut and the Carl Duisberg Society. Back in Germany, she held political seminars at the SPD-affiliated Friedrich Ebert-Foundation. In August 2008, Auma Obama told the German magazine Stern: “I very much enjoyed living in Germany. The country really influenced and impressed me, and that contributed to turning me into what I am.”
Auma Obama, who has one daughter, now lives in Kenya again, initially working for nearly five years as the East Africa Coordinator for the aid organisation Care. In 2010, she set up the Sauti Kuu Foundation which organises practice-oriented training courses designed to give a voice to disadvantaged children and young people all over the world and to unleash and strengthen their potential . Besides her work as Director of the Sauti Kuu Foundation, she is active on the board of the Jacobs Foundation, an organisation that also funds projects and research for the benefit of children and young people. Since November 2014, she has also been a member of the World Future Council (WFC).