• Dr. Ogola was a woman of many talents and apart from being an award-winning author she was also a trained pediatrician, and human rights advocate.
  • She is best remembered for her captivating novel, The River and The Source, a marvelous piece of work tracing the story of a Kenyan family and focusing on strong female characters.
  • To mark eight years since her demise Google created a unique Doodle in her honor. 

On Wednesday, Google Africa decided to pay tribute to one of Kenya’s most renowned authors, Dr Margaret Ogola.

To mark eight years since her demise Google created a unique doodle in her honor. 

Dr. Ogola was a woman of many talents and apart from being an award-winning author she was also a trained pediatrician, and human rights advocate.

She is best remembered for her captivating novel, The River and The Source, a marvelous piece of work tracing the story of a Kenyan family and focusing on strong female characters. The book follows four generations of Kenyan women in a rapidly changing country and society. It has since been translated to Spanish, Lithuanian, and Italian.

Highlighting the courage of African ladies in their regular day to day lives, Ogola’s book soon became a must-read for many Kenyan secondary school students. The book was turned into a set book and examined in Kenya Certificate of Secondary Examinations from 1999 to 2004.

The River and the Source by Dr Margaret Ogola. (bigwriters)

Dr Tom Odhiambo who did his master’s thesis on Dr Ogola’s work spoke fondly of her and wrote: Ogola’s text seeks to project Kenyan women as capable of not only telling their own stories but also of claiming their rightful place and identity in the broader national life.

Also read: These 5 African writers are in the race to bag a £10,000 cash prize and the bragging rights as Caine Prize 2019 winner

Dr Margaret Ogola

Along the way, the novels expanded and sought to address political and cultural changes as well as the AIDS emergency, continually featuring the role of women in African society.

Here are five fun facts about Dr Margaret Ogola.

She was born in 1958

Alliance Girls High School

Ogola was born on 2nd June 1958. She attended Thompson’s Falls High School in Nyahururu and was the best student overall in her O level class.

She then joined Alliance Girls High School, and later the University of Nairobi where she earned her first degree in Bachelor of Medicine & Surgery in 1984.

Upon graduation, she worked as a medical officer at Kenyatta National Hospital. In 1990, she earned her Master of Medicine in Paediatrics at the University of Nairobi.

She won the Jomo Kenyatta Prize for Literature and the Commonwealth Writers twice

Even after she was rejected by different publishers, Margaret Ogola’s ‘The River and the Source’ novel proceeded to win the 1995 Jomo Kenyatta Prize for Literature and the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best First Book.

Her second book ‘I Swear by Apollo’ which examines issues of medical ethics and authentic identity was also well received.

Place of Destiny by Margaret Ogola. (Text Book Centre)

Also read: Kenya’s celebrated author, Ngugi wa Thiong’o bags the 2019 Erich Maria Remarque Peace Prize

Dr Ogola’s third novel titled ‘Place of Destiny’ which vividly captures the story of a woman dying of cancer and the rise to recognition of a former street child as well as issues of poverty, won her, her second Jomo Kenyatta Prize for Literature in 2007.

It is eerie autobiographical keeping in mind Dr Ogola battled with cancer for many years and also dealt with the dirt poor in society in most of her professional life.

She was a staunch Human Rights defender

A potrait of Dr Margaret Ogola. (nation)

It is no secret that Dr. Ogola had a soft spot for vulnerable persons in the society. At a time when HIV/AIDS was deeply misunderstood and it was highly unpopular to speak about the viral disease due to social stigma Dr. Ogola never shied away and continued to advocate for HIV/AIDS victims rights and went out of her way to take care of AIDS orphans.

In a speech she made at the 4th Women International Conference in Beijing (China) in 1995, Dr Ogola observed that unless we recognise that each individual is valuable by virtue of simply being conceived human, we cannot begin to talk about human rights.

She was the national coordinator for charities such as The Hope for Africa Children’s Initiative, CARE, Society for Women and AIDS, and Save the Children.

In 1998, she became the National Executive Secretary for Health and Family Life at the Kenya Episcopal Conference until 2002. The job entailed co-ordinating the administration of over 430 health care facilities run by the Catholic Church in Kenya.

In 1999, Dr Ogola was honored with the Familias Award for Humanitarian Service of the World Congress of Families in Geneva, Switzerland.

In November 2002, she became the Kenya co-ordinator of HACI (Hope for African Children Initiative), a partnership of several international NGOs – Plan, CARE, Save the Children, Society for Women and Aids, World Conference for Religion and Peace, and World Vision.

Dr Ogola also helped found and manage the SOS HIV/AIDS Clinic (April 2004 – April 2005), which is a clinic for people living with Aids (PLWAs).

It is no secret that her novels and African women’s altruism and AIDS awareness efforts will continue her name and heritage.

She had a beautiful family

Dr Ogola was married to Dr George Ogola, and together they had 4 biological children, and 2 foster children.

She died in 2011

Margaret Ogola's book I Swear by Apollo. (textbookcentre)

After leading a successful and fulfilling life, Dr Margaret Ogola died on September 21, 2011 at an age of 53 years. She succumbed to cancer.