Rose­mary Odinga: Hall­mark of rare courage and for­ti­tude

Daily Nation (Kenya) - - LETTERS -

Rose­mary Odinga's pub­lic ap­pear­ance on Tues­day marked the cul­mi­na­tion of a heroic two-year strug­gle, and of a pro­found in­ner strength, against seem­ingly im­pos­si­ble med­i­cal and a mul­ti­tude of other odds. She has some­how man­aged to over­come the hor­rors of her wrench­ing or­deal to a point where she could do some­thing this week that was un­think­able.

I per­son­ally know of no more com­pelling story like Rose­mary's, and her fam­ily's, of pro­longed for­ti­tude and courage against what seemed an over­whelm­ingly neg­a­tive prog­no­sis. It is a story that should be re­cited to pro­vide strength to all those who face hope­less calami­ties and do not be­lieve that there is light at the end of the tun­nel.

Her re­cov­ery to even this con­di­tion that we saw is a com­bi­na­tion of fac­tors; her own strength and the de­vo­tion of her fa­ther Raila Odinga, Mama Ida and sis­ter Win­nie and the fam­ily in gen­eral com­ing so soon af­ter they had in­con­solably lost their first­born Fidel in 2015. Plus of course, there were Rose­mary's two lov­ing girls, who al­ways wanted to be by her side, the younger one not to­tally com­pre­hend­ing.

I am sure most Kenyans are pray­ing that this re­cov­ery con­tin­ues to a bet­ter con­clu­sion than what Rose­mary has so far achieved.

Among the most trau­ma­tis­ing episodes the fam­ily lived through was the fear-filled race against time on a plane car­ry­ing a very ill Rose­mary to an ad­vanced med­i­cal fa­cil­ity in South

Africa in Fe­bru­ary last year, with no cer­tainty that the ur­gently-needed brain surgery could be per­formed in time.

One can only imag­ine how Raila and Mama Ida coped with the ex­cru­ci­at­ing dread of that flight. Raila had of course put off his early March en­gage­ments in the US at that time, and once Rose­mary was out of the woods, he flew to New York for a few days and then re­turned to South Africa to be with her again. There was also another trip to a spe­cialised med­i­cal fa­cil­ity in China that Raila and Ida took to ob­tain fur­ther treat­ment for Rose­mary.

De­spite their un­speak­able an­guish over her suf­fer­ing in the last two years, the fam­ily was able to muster the enor­mous re­serves of strength and will needed to see Rose­mary through to where she is now.

But, of course, it was Rose­mary's own strength and deter­mi­na­tion that was the para­mount game-changer. In the two months I spent in Nairobi for the 2017 elec­tion, I saw her a few times at their Karen res­i­dence as she kept on mak­ing the heroic ef­fort to do what was needed to un­der­take what was go­ing to be a long, slow re­cov­ery. Her will to over­come re­mained.

It's no less than a mir­a­cle that Rose­mary was able this week to some­how re­cover enough deter­mi­na­tion to par­tic­i­pate in a pub­lic event for some­thing very dear to her heart; the well-be­ing of women, spe­cially those in Kib­era. She pro­vides an as­tound­ing ex­am­ple and role model to Kenyans and par­tic­u­larly women to emu­late. What a glo­ri­ous and heart-wrench­ing mo­ment of pride this must have been for the fam­ily and ev­ery­one who loves Rose­mary. May God con­tinue to strengthen her.

Rose­mary Odinga

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