For many Kenyans, reading would not have been as engaging had they not bore witness to the sheer brilliance of Margaret Ogola.
“The River and the Source,” a required reading for the high school leaving national examinations (KCSE) from 1999 to 2004 offered a generation of young Kenyans nostalgia and immersion.
The main protagonist’s father, Chief Odero’s words sums the narrative of the lives of three generations of women in these words: “A home without daughters is like a spring without a source”
Departing from the mainstream narrative of servility, this book projects the spirit of strong African women, while focusing on Luo values and celebrating its cultural mores, from pre to postcolonial times. It won the 1995 Jomo Kenyatta Prize for Literature and the Commonwealth Writers Prize, Best First Book, Africa region.
Even before authoring her first book, Dr. Ogola was an accomplished woman. She juggled between her job as a pediatrician and the medical field serving in directorial positions at various NGOs focusing on HIV & AIDS at the peak of the scourge in the country.
This was in addition to writing three more books.
Her pertinent words at the Beijing conference in 1995 continue to ring true today as they did when she first spoke them.
In a conversation on the dignity of the African woman, she posits: “Unless we recognize that each individual is irreplaceable (sic) and valuable by virtue of simply being conceived human, we cannot begin to talk about human rights.
The accidental attributes that we acquire such as colour, sex, intelligence, economic circumstances, physical or mental disability should not be used as an excuse to deprive a person of life.”
After a protracted battle with cancer, the legendary humanitarian, writer, medic and nationalist succumbed to the illness in 2011.
On Sunday, 9th June, Google honoured her in what would have been her 60th birthday.
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