For the better part of the 90s, the epic novel, The River and the Source, was the set book for those who sat their Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education in those years. Its author, Margaret Ogola, is still celebrated as a stellar author. She managed to gel African tradition with modernity in a way that is still relatable 25 years after the book was first published.
Today is her 60th birthday, which Google has marked, albeit posthumously, with a doodle dedicated to her. She succumbed to cancer in 2011.
Ogola juggled family and career before the widespread campaign for work-life balance became popular. She was a wife and mother of six. Apart from writing astounding books, her background as a paediatrician enabled Ogola to work with various organisations on a variety of social issues. Her main focus was on HIV/AIDs, orphans, women’s rights and empowerment, family and health.
She won various awards including the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize and the Jomo Kenyatta Prize for Literature for her novel The River and the Source. She also received the Familias Award for Humanitarian Service.