Government to help prominent Kenyans pen memoirs

President Uhuru Kenyatta with Hon. Phoebe Muga Asiyo after he conveyed the Order of the Burning Spear award to her during the launch of the trailblazer initiative and the launch of the "It is Possible: A Memoir by Hon. Phoebe Muga Asiyo" book at State House, Nairobi. [Photo: Standard]

Opposition leader Raila Odinga yesterday tickled the audience at State House with recollections of how Phoebe Asiyo felled a Kanu giant in Homa Bay.

He said they were very close and had helped Asiyo campaign when all odds were stacked against her. She was running against Okiki Amayo.

“He (Amayo) was also the chairman of disciplinary committee. Remember men used to cry when they were called to appear before the committee,” he said.

He said Asiyo won the first round in 1979 but a petition nullified her election. A by-election had to been held.Raila said ministers splashed all resources, but Asiyo won resoundingly as proof that anything can be done.

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Family friends

“Phoebe is my elder sister, we are family friends right from the time we were young,” he said.

He said his father Jaramogi was the first leader of Luo Union and when elected as MP, Phoebe’s father Pastor Joel Omer took over from him since he was the deputy.

Asiyo led a delegation to visit Mzee Kenyatta in detention. They travelled the whole day as the native provincial commissioner refused to give them a vehicle.

As a social worker in Nairobi, she was assigned abandoned children whose parents had gone to fight the British in the forest.

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“Our history must not forget that over 11,000 women were imprisoned and tortured in detention camps,” said Asiyo.

She urged Uhuru to name streets after some of them.

She also challenged the President to commission someone to write Mama Ngina’s biography.

President Kenyatta ordered a programme be initiated to help public servants and prominent Kenyans write their memoirs.

Emphasising the need for public servants and leaders to pen down their experiences, President Kenyatta yesterday directed Education Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed to assist those who wish to do so.

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Kenya’s history

The Head of State was speaking at the launch of Asiyo’s book, where he echoed opposition leader Raila’s proposal to help people key to Kenya’s history to chronicle their experiences.

Raila said that Kenya should emulate South Africa that has developed an institution that helps people write their biographies.

Deputy President William Ruto praised the contribution of women to Kenya’s history and encouraged them to write memoirs.

“The more I listen to her (Phoebe Asiyo), the more I am persuaded that many women should write,” he said.

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Leaders at the event heaped praise on Asiyo, describing her as an important person who paved way for a lot of women.

Asiyo was a long serving parliamentarian and a former ambassador to the United Nations Development Fund for Women.

At the same event, women who have made strides in Kenya’s history were awarded under the Trailblazers programme.


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