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Margaret Atieno Ogola: Celebrated author of ‘The River and the Source’

Achieving Woman
 Ogola Margaret 1995

Six years ago, the country lost a medic and a celebrated award-winning author at the age of 53.

Margaret Ogola, a practicing paediatrician left her mark in the literature space by publishing three novels, a biography and a handbook for parents. The medic will forever be remembered for her passion in empowering women and supporting people living with HiV/Aids.

Her very first novel, “The River and the Source” in the 90’s was a big hit mainly because of the message it carried. The book depicts women as important members of the society and was for many years used as a set book on the KCSE syllabus. It is an epic story spanning cultures that tells the lives of three generations of women, it elevates women’s acts of courage in a traditional setting. The novel won two prestigious awards, the Jomo Kenyatta Prize for Literature in (1995) and the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best First Book in Africa.

Her other novels and books include, I swear by Apollo, Place of Destiny, A Biography: A Gift of Grace - examines the life of Cardinal Otunga, Educating in Human Love and Mandate of the People. Born in June 12, 1958 in Asembo, Kenya, Dr Ogola attended Thompson’s Falls High School for her O-levels where she emerged the best student overall before proceeding to Alliance Girls High School for A-levels.

She was admitted to the University of Nairobi where she earned her first degree - Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery in 1984. She then joined Kenyatta National Hospital as a medical officer.

Dr Ogola earned her Master of Medicine in Paediatrics from the same university in 1990. In 2004, she took a Post Graduate Diploma on Planning and Management of Development Projects at the Catholic University of Eastern Africa. The paediatrician based in Nairobi also served as the Vice-President of Family Life Counselling (Kenya) and the National Executive Secretary of the Commission for Health & Family Life of the Kenya Episcopal Conference between1998–2002. In 1999, she was the recipient of the Familias Award for Humanitarian Service of the World Congress of Families in Geneva, Switzerland.

She served as the country coordinator of the Hope for Africa Children Initiative, a partnership of NGOs like World Vision, Plan, CARE, Society for Women and AIDS, World Conference for Religion and Peace and Save the Children. The initiative helped strengthen the capacity of African communities, to advocate, care for and support children impacted by HIV/AIDS & prevent further spread of HIV. Dr Ogola participated in setting up the SOS HIV/AIDS Clinic which served slum dwellers of Nairobi living with Aids focused on VCT services, treatment and nutrition support.

She also served in the capacity of a director of Institute of Healthcare Management at the Strathmore Business School between2009-2010 and an advisor of family and health issues to the Kenyan Catholic bishops, and a member of Opus Dei. She died after a long battle with cancer in September 22, 2011. She is survived by her husband Dr George Ogola and six children.

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