By Isaiah Lucheli
The death of Mary Onyango, the vice-chairperson of the National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC), following a fight against cancer has closed the curtains on a committed and industrious public servant.
Onyango, who was appointed to the commission by President Kibaki, on September 10, 2009, served diligently and enthusiastically in the position until her death at the Kisumu Aga Khan Hospital where she had been admitted. She was 52 years.
Onyango was married to Richard Onyango (deceased) and the couple had three daughters â Anne Marie, Amanda, and Adelle.
Before her appointment, Onyango served in various senior level management positions in the public sector, including the management boards of several private and Government institutions for over 25 years. She also worked as financial controller at the Agricultural Finance Corporation.
Onyango was a graduate of the University of Nairobi (Bachelor of Commerce) and MBA (Finance) from Maastricht School of Management in The Netherlands.
She was also extensively involved in charity work and was a member of the board of directors of several charities and civil society organisations.
Her leadership skills and determination to deliver is manifested in her 12-year fight against breast cancer, which saw her co-found the Kenya Breast Health Programme.
In an earlier interview with The Standard, Onyango, who was first diagnosed with breast cancer in January 1999, came out as an epitome of strength over adversity and she had vowed to continue to fight and live a wholesome life.
In the interview she had said she had heard of cancer but like most women, it never occurred to her that she could contract the disease.
She recalled that when she was diagnosed with the disease it marked the beginning of a journey that saw her undergo surgery, rounds of chemotherapy, and radiation.