Veteran politician and fashion icon Mary Orie Rogo Manduli passed away on Wednesday evening at her Nairobi home aged 73.
Since her death, Ms Orie Rogo Manduli has been eulogised by many as a woman of many firsts and trailblazer who fought tirelessly for women empowerment.
It is sad and unfortunate that death has taken away Mama Orie Rogo Manduli, one of our country’s most recognizable, highly charismatic and accomplished politicians. A bold leader and mentor, Ms Manduli tirelessly championed for women empowerment,Reads President Kenyatta’s eulogy in part.
Adding that the late was a fearless, bold and practical leader who always spoke her mind.
Fashion and Sports
The late Manduli was a sports woman and model who took up and excelled in motorsports at a time when many African women would never have dared thereby opening up the sport to women drivers in later years.
At the tender age of 16 years, while still in secondary school, Ms Manduli won Miss Kenya beauty pageant. She was simply a phenomenal and standout woman trailblazer,President Kenyatta mourned
Mama Orie Rogo Manduli was a fashion icon whose trademark African print attire and prominent head gear made her one of Africa’s most recognizable personalities,”
President Kenyatta recalled.President Kenyatta recalled.
Employment and Leadership
Mary Orie Rogo Manduli took the Kenyan governance scene by a storm at a time when women’s voices were largely nothing more than whispers.
Her first ever gainful employment was as a Personal Assistant to the then General Manager of Kenya Railway Corporation and Harbors, Mr. Mwongela.
She is credited for overseeing thriving NGO operations during her stint at the helm of the National Council of Non-Governmental Organizations at a time when the government was striving to set a foothold and superintend NGOs at a time of their influx.
As if it were her signature mark, she was later embroiled in a bitter power struggle with the then Culture and Heritage Minister Najib Balala, which snowballed into physical confrontation when the latter sought the intervention of police to block anyone from accessing g and leaving the council’s premises.
Boastful of her achievements, she revered being referred to as the International Council of Women representative at the UNEP and Habitat.
Earlier, she was the first African woman to be the East African Public Relations and Marketing Manager for Metal Box and later the first female administrative manager of the Kenya Coffee Board.
The late Manduli was born and partially bred in Maseno where she dropped the name Mary.
She went to Ngiya Girls, Butere Girls and later Machakos Girls for her secondary education before proceeding to Machakos Teachers Training College where she met her first husband, Mr. Ondieki with whom they sired three kids.
Upon completion, she moved to Canada with her husband where she pursued Diploma in Office Management but their marriage would later hit a rock bottom due to what they referred to as ‘irreconcilable differences’ leading to their divorce.
In 1980, while on a trip to interview Joshua Nkomo – a renown Zambian freedom fighter – for a BBC feature, she met Norman Mnaduli – a cousin to former President Fredrick Chiluba – and their love blossomed into marriage.
It is from her second husband that she adopted her last name – Manduli. Unfortunately, Norman died in 2003; a death Orie Rogo vividly described as not only devastating but also shocking.
At one point during NARC regime when the quest for constitutional review had hit high gears, Orie Rogo accused Senior Counsel Paul Muite and others of orchestrating the cold blood assassination of Dr. Chrispine Odhiambo Mbai ostensibly for crafting the Devolution blueprint, essentially threatening to dilute the influence of a certain cabal that had grown fat on concentration of power at the top.
A fierce, indefatigable woman with a deep sense of bespoke African fashion, Orie Rogo did not give a hoot about controversy; in fact, she thrived in it.
Her language was raw, straight and hard hitting; never did she sugarcoat her opinion to appease anyone and at every available chance, flaunted her beauty with unmatched confidence.
While doing her makeup at her Riverside home before an appointment with the dentist, her Personal Assistant, one Mr. Ndambuki noticed that Manduli was leaning on one side, motionless with no pulse at the neck.
At the age of 73, Mary Orie Rogo Manduli had kissed the earth goodbye at the same spot where she spent a significant time of her life relishing her most favorite daily routine: applying makeup.
(Additional information is credited to Mr. Nyainda Manaseh)