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Orie Rogo Manduli, Kenya’s first female rally driver and ex politician dies aged 73. Kenyans remember her for these facts

Kenya’s first Female Rally driver and well renown politician Orie Rogo Manduli died at age 73. The fashionista and activist died in her Riverside home in Nairobi, Kenya.

According to her personal Assistant Samuel Ndambuki, Manduli passed on as they prepared to go for a dental checkup.

“We had gone for a checkup at Nairobi Hospital yesterday (Tuesday). This morning we visited her brother at Embakasi and she was very normal (sic). We had a dental appointment this afternoon and as she was doing her makeup, I noticed she leaned on one side,” Ndambuki said.

Manduli had been admitted at Nairobi Hospital in July this year with kidney complications and was discharged a month later, Ndambuki told The Standard in a phone interview.

By 6pm, Ndambuki told The Standard, her body was still lying at her house waiting to be moved to the morgue. 

Orie Rogo Manduli died in Nairobi on Wednesday, September 8, 2021, after a short illness and will be missed greatly by Kenyans for her role in women empowerment and political change. Some facts about the astounding woman are:

1. She was born Mary Orie Rogo but changed her name to Mary Orie Rogo Ondieki after her marriage. She would later drop Mary from her name.

2. She is the first woman of African descent to participate in the East African Safari Rally. That was the 1974 edition alongside her late co-driver Sylvia Omino.

3. She was born in Maseno, Kisumu County, to Gordon Rogo, a teacher who later ventured into politics. Her mum Zeruiah Adhiambo taught at Kisumu Technical College.

4. She was a fashionista. Her signature headgear completed her look. Without it, she says, it is as good as seeing a bride without makeup on her wedding day.

5. She stormed the public limelight while still in high school when she was crowned Miss Kenya, aged 16.

6. She was a trained teacher but never set a foot in class to teach as she got married immediately after graduating from Machakos Teachers College.

7. She has four children, three daughters Elizabeth, Allison, and Janice from her first marriage and a son Katyana from her second marriage.

8. She remarried in 1980 to Misheck Norman Manduli, a descendant of the Lunda dynasty — one of Zambia’s royal families. He was 30 years older than her.

9. She was also the first woman to head the Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) council.

10. Her hobbies included reading books, particularly biographies and autobiographies, listening to soft music. She loved rhumba and salsa.

The cause of her death is yet to be established.

11. A former Miss Kenya, Manduli was the first woman to chair the NGO Council. She was crowned Miss Kenya, at the age of 16 while still in secondary school.

12. Manduli described herself as “lioness in her cage” and in 2005, she was embroiled in a leadership wrangle at the NGO Council which roped in then Culture and Heritage minister Najib Balala who locked gates of the State agency, blocking everybody from entering or leaving the premises.

Kenyans took to twitter to share some heartfelt comments about the well known activist:

‘Rest in peace the queen…quotable quotes from Orie that I will never forget….to the queen’s ‘if you have it flaunt it’….’if a man really loves the wife he should be able to show it, just the way we frame photos and array them , be proud of your wife show her off..’

‘Orie Rogo was stylishly colorful, confident and a little loud. Her entry into any room was purposeful and loud. She certainly had “class.” May God comfort her family and rest her soul in peace.’

‘I I used to see seated next to powerful leaders back then. She would then be given a chance to speak and she did it perfectly. I was so curious to know who is this woman who dresses completely different from the rest. I came to know her real name later. Rip Orie Rogo Manduli.. ‘