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At 106 years, mama Agneta Odinga, the only surviving sister to Kenya’s first Vice President Jaramogi Oginga Odinga, is still going strong.

Despite being given only five days to live by doctors after a stroke attack in September 2022, the aunt of Azimio la Umoja leader, Raila Odinga, is still full of life.

On Friday, the Odinga family organised a special event to celebrate Mama Agneta with family spokesperson Dr Oburu Oginga, who is the Senator for Siaya County, also gracing the ceremony at the home of his younger sister, Ruth Odinga, in Nyahera, Kisumu County.

“We decided to celebrate the life of our aunty while she is still alive because often people only celebrate the lives of others after their deaths and this has led to people peddling lies of your good behaviour, even those who had wished you death,” Dr Oginga said.

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Dr Oginga described Mama Agneta as her late brother Jaramogi’s favourite sister with whom he travelled far and wide.

“This is a matriarch who fought during our country’s independence struggle. We the Odinga family decided that instead of waiting for her to die, we celebrate her alive. The Luos should start celebrating the living instead of the dead,” said Ms Ruth Odinga, who is Kisumu County Woman Rep.

“They were five children in their family, namely Albert Adur, Tobius Ajuma, my father Oginga Odinga, Monica Were, Ojuok Odinga and the surviving aunty Agneta, who was their last born,” Ms Odinga said.

“She was Jaramogi’s best friend and went everywhere with him, including to Korea and China. She is now 106 years old and still going strong. She had a stroke a year ago and she struggles to speak, but is still alert and communicates very well,” she added.

Azimio la Umoja leader Raila Odinga’s elder sister, Akinyi Wenwa, speaks during an occasion to celebrate the life of her aunt Mama Agneta Odinga in Nyahera, Kisumu County on December 29, 2023.

“I have had to stay with her because if she had been taken to her home, she would have no care. Kenya has no facilities to support the elderly and families do not care about the elderly and see them as a burden left to die. This should never be the case,” Ms Odinga said during the ceremony that was also attended by ODM party leader’s elder sister, Akinyi Wenwa, Mr Odinga’s daughter Rosemary,

The Woman Rep also underscored the need to actualise the Geriatric Bill by Githunguri MP Gathoni Wa Muchomba that seeks to establish comprehensive care for the elderly.

“This Bill seeks to establish a comprehensive legal framework dedicated to safeguarding the dignity and respect of the elderly during their later years. Specifically, the Bill seeks to address the establishment of a National Council of the Elderly, designed to oversee the care, empowerment, and protection of elderly individuals. It also encompasses provisions for the maintenance of their overall well-being, safety, and security, with a holistic approach to elderly support and welfare,” she explained.

“I supported this Bill in Parliament and gave an example of my aunt and I believe she is one of the longest-living Kenyan at 106,” Ms Odinga said.

Mama Agneta, who is now under of Ms Ruth Odinga, is said to have suffered a stroke following Mr Odinga’s fifth election loss in August 2022.

A poster of Mama Agneta Odinga during the event to celebrate her life at Kisumu Woman Rep Ruth Odinga’s home in Nyahera, Kisumu County on December 29, 2023.

“She suffered the stroke immediately after the Supreme Court upheld William Ruto’s election win. She could not believe that Raila did not win the election after his many years of struggle and sacrifice for good governance in the country,” the Kisumu Woman Rep disclosed.

Dr Oginga said Mama Agneta was a key pillar in the Odinga family, and was being celebrated for playing a big role in solving family disputes and reconciling family members as well as imparting history of the Odingas.

“When Jaramogi was a teacher at Maseno, Mama Agneta would bring him food all the way from Bondo. She is a straightforward person,” Dr Oginga said.

The event was also graced by clerics from St Peters ACK Church, Nyahera in Kisumu County. Also present was Kisumu Deputy Governor Dr Mathews Owili, National Assembly Majority Leader Opiyo Wandayi and a host of MPs and MCAs from the region.

—NMG

 

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