Yesterday was the late author Dr Margaret Ogola’s 60th birthday. To celebrate her, Google set up a doodle of her profile. Ensconced in warm purple clouds is her unsmiling face overlooking a vision we are yet to achieve.
The author’s debut and magnum opus, The River and The Source, is of great significance to Kenyans- especially the Kenyan women who used it as a set book for their KCSE. While younger 8-4-4 cohorts may not have studied the book for their literature classes, they have devoured the book with the eagerness of more famed international blockbusters.
The River and The Source’s main protagonist, Akoko, is a source of joy and inspiration to so many.
On Twitter, countless users have shared about what she meant to them beyond a means to pass a national exam.
I love today’s Google doodle in honour of Margaret Ogola! Absolutely enjoyed Lit class in high school because of The River and the Source! pic.twitter.com/4ro5HKICws
— sarahstravelogues (@sarahnmwangi) June 12, 2019
— 3neel (@3Neelkenya) June 12, 2019
"A home without a girl is like a spring without a source." She was such a great writer. Miss her but we'll always have part of her still with us thanks to her books.
— Garbbie.K (@that_afrogirl) June 12, 2019
“They honoured the girl child,” one reader said, “That was very rare in African settings. Especially where their birth is described. I could feel the joy in the homestead. Plus, it was a fairly easy read that I can remember 17 years later.”
Set books tend to have the appearance of a text book. Rarely do students enjoy immersing themselves into the technical aspects of the literary piece. After reading it (and sometimes we can skip the reading) they want it all done. But The River and The Source was a joy to behold.
Dr Ogola, who was a pediatrician, was also an award winning author. The River and The Source went on to win the 1995 Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for best first book, Africa Region. It also emerged victorious, claiming the Jomo Kenyatta Prize for literature the same year. The book has also been translated into Lithuanian, Italian and Spanish. She went on to win the Jomo Kenyatta Prize again in 2007 for her 2005 novel Place of Destiny. Additionally, she authored I Swear by Apollo- a sequel to River and The Source.
For members of her church, the medical fraternity and for everyone she touched with her books, Dr Ogola will continue to be missed.
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