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Orie Rogo Manduli: Rallying wasn‘t putting food on the table

By The Nairobian Reporter | June 28th 2021

She is fearless, never boring and has no apologies for being different. She has made Kenyans come to terms with who she is - Orie Rogo Manduli.

In a past interview at her Riverside home, first African woman rally driver spoke about beauty standards, love letters, slapping men and car racing.

Why did you stop rallying, should we expect to see you behind the wheels of a race car anytime soon?

I was the first African woman rally driver. I stopped because rallying is expensive and time consuming. I had other priorities, like my children as well as my job. Rallying wasn‘t going to put food on the table, it was actually going to take away their maziwa (milk).

As a former Miss East Africa, do you think there is a beauty queen who has surpassed the bar you set?

None. What we see today are young women obsessed with physical beauty, forgetting that looks fade with time. I am lucky to have been born of parents who taught me to value beauty beyond the physical, and to consider intellect as a more superior manifestation of beauty.

A beauty that never fades. I read about a Miss Kenya who took off with another woman‘s husband. What a shame!

If you were to go back to your 20s, what would you change?

I wouldn‘t marry so young, but everything else would replay in exactly the same way. I have no regrets for living my life the way I did.

Have you ever slapped a man?

Yes, I have. I have done it in traffic, when they disrespect me on the roads (laughs). I can’t stand silly men thinking they have the license for contempt towards women.

I once grabbed a man by his shirtfront for being rude. He didn’t expect it, and as he drove off in a hurry, the shirt got torn and a piece of it remained in my hands. I was also at the centre of a fracas at the NGOs Council.

Can you remember the first time you got a love letter?

(Laughs). Yes, I remember that. I took it to my father. It was from a boy in school, and incidentally, my dad was the headmaster. It wasn‘t good for the boy, especially since my dad thought he was the best in school. After that, all the boys avoided me. They thought I was stupid because I share love letters with my dad.

Which woman leader do you respect most in Kenya?

Charity Ngilu. She has tried a lot to lift women. She nominated Cecily Mbarire who is now doing well politically. Although she concentrated on the eastern parts of the country, at least she tried.

The ones from Western Kenya and Nyanza don’t want to see other people’s daughters rise. They actually suppress other women and kill their initiatives.

Any words of wisdom for Kenyan women?

Seek economic power for financial independence and freedom, the rest will follow automatically. I actually discouraged my nephew, a prominent young man, from vying for a political seat in the city, since I believe he would be wasting time.

Do you cook?

I like cooking ugali and fish. My favourite is millet and cassava ugali and whole Tilapia, it‘s why I have started a fish pond in one of my property in Nairobi.

If you were to meet Uhuru today, what is that one thing you would tell him?

I will tell him say one thing and stick to it. He tends to talk too much. You don‘t need to respond to all critics.

Orie Rogo Manduli in a past interview at her Riverside home. [PHOTO: JEFF OCHIENG]


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