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Rosemary Odinga regains sight after battling brain tumour

By Isaiah Gwengi and Harold Odhiambo | December 26th 2019

Opposition leader Raila Odinga and daughter Rosemary Odinga at Nyamira ACK church in Bondo, Siaya county. [Collins Oduor, Standard]

Rosemary Odinga has regained her sight.

The Opposition leader's daughter's recovery was evident on Wednesday as she made her way to the church without wearing dark glasses as before.

Rosemary has for a long time been seen as one who would take after her father Raila Odinga and join politics.

She seemed to be making inroads in the political scene until she fell sick.

In the runup to the 2017 General Election, ODM members said there was an alleged plot to favour her in the Kibra polls.

At the time, former head of ODM secretariat Eliud Owalo hinted there were plans to hand the party leader's daughter the nomination ticket.

In a protest letter to Raila, Owalo said the alleged scheme amounted to imposing someone on the people and called for fair nominations.

However, Rosemary later withdrew her candidature for the Kibra race following doctors' advice. She said she would continue to serve her community in other capacities.

But accompanying her father to church on Christmas Day, Rosemary did not need a white cane or guiding hands. She had no dark glasses on.

She recounted how her independence was affected by the loss of eyesight but praised her family and friends for support.

Rosemary was diagnosed with a brain tumor that required immediate treatment. In an emotional message to the people of Kibra, she bowed out of the race for Member of Parliament.

Kenyans heard little from her or her family thereafter.

Unlike the last two years when she was always guided, Rosemary made her way to St Peter's ACK Church in Nyamra with no help.

In the company of her other family members, the opposition leader's eldest daughter joined the congregation for the Christmas service.

“It was very challenging. I am used to living a certain lifestyle where I am very independent. Suddenly, I couldn’t see my children and my parents,” she said.

Rosemary recalled the journey to her recovery, narrating how emotional it was to see her children after two years.

"It wasn’t easy but I thank God for the miracle,” she said.

Like any father who would want to see his child navigate through a life-threatening condition, the former Prime Minister walked from hospital to hospital to save Rosemary's life.

On Wednesday, Raila revealed how news of his daughter’s sickness hit him.

“It was painful to seen my daughter go into a coma for more than a week and the many trips we made in and out of hospitals."

Rosemary fell sick in 2017 and after undergoing surgery at a Nairobi hospital. She was taken to South Africa for further treatment.

“She was flown to Johannesburg in South Africa by an air ambulance, accompanied by Ida."

In Johannesburg, Ida had to rent an apartment from where doctors struggled to diagnose the ailment. They spent three months there.

It  was in China where a specialist diagnosed her with a brain tumour. She underwent a three-in-one operation that took 10 hours.

After the surgery, she appeared in public where she presided over a charity to uplift the living standards of women in city slums.

Rosemary and a Korean NGO donated 60 sewing machines for vocational training in Kibra to help women hoping to join the textile industry.

It is still early to speculate whether she will be going back to active politics.

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