Rosemary Odinga is the eldest daughter and second child of ODM Leader Raila Odinga and Mama Ida Odinga.

Born August 13, 1977, Rosemary is the eldest of Winnie Odinga and Raila Odinga Junior save for the late Fidel Odinga who was the firstborn in the family.

Through the course of her life, the 44-year-old has had her fair share of challenges in life, most notable, almost going blind.

Education

Rosemary began her education at the Kilimani Junior Academy where her late brother Fidel also attended at the time.

They had a normal childhood up until 1982 when Raila was detained following the attempted coup on late former President Mzee Daniel Arap Moi’s government.

Ida, a teacher at the time, was forced to transfer her children to a public school. This, however, proved a challenge as most school heads feared angering President Moi.

Their grandfather, the late Jaramogi Oginga, intervened and they were admitted at Consolata Primary School in Westlands. It was here that she changed her faith from the Anglican Church to Roman Catholic.

{Rosemary Odinga with her father Raila Odinga}

During an interview with Nation on April 10, 2016, Rosemary narrated that they spent little time with their father as he was always in and out of detention.

Kids from their class were afraid to interact with them and their house was raided and ransacked so many times. Their mother, who was their sole breadwinner, also suffered several arrests.

"However, we were very close to my siblings. We played regular games like football, bird hunting, made dolls of clay and maize cobs, went fishing and swimming in the Nairobi river," she stated.

After high school, Rosemary moved to the United States where she worked and studied for a decade.

She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology from Howard University and an MBA in Marketing from the University of Dallas.

Career

Rosemary is a snail farmer, an entrepreneur, an advocate for social justice. She is also a devout advocate for youth empowerment and development.

During the interview with Nation, she revealed that she is also the patron of the Upper Hill School Rugby team.

She founded Raila Odinga Center (ROC) in 2017 where she served as the Chief Executive Officer. The foundation aimed at supporting youth Education across East Africa.

Rosemary also joined her father’s presidential campaign team in 2007, a role she played again in 2013 when she was a member of the lobby group called Nairobi for Raila.

In 2017, she intended to contest the Kibera Constituency parliamentary seat but was forced to shelve her political ambitions due to a medical problem.

Illness

The mother of two suffered two aneurysms, a brain tumor, and a stroke. An aneurysm is an enlargement of an artery caused by weakness in the arterial wall.

The tumor affected her eyesight and she visited hospitals outside the country as she sought treatment.

During an interview with Citizen TV on Sunday, December 16, 2018, Rosemary narrated the struggles she underwent while on the brink of losing her sight.

“Sometimes I would find myself crying wondering what I should do. I just realised that suddenly I can’t drive my car, I cannot cook the food I want to. I felt helpless that I cannot do things by myself,” she narrated.

“I don’t really see out of the left eye. I can see through the right eye but it’s foggy; it’s like looking through a glass with water in it. So I see mostly through the right eye but it’s half the vision, and I can see things that are very close to me," she added.

In 2019, Rosemary revealed that she had fully regained her sight and had stopped using a walking stick.

Speaking at St Peter’s ACK Church in Bondo, she said: “I saw my children for the first time in two years”.

Raila who spoke in the same church revealed how the family nearly lost hope of Rosemary seeing again.

“We got to appoint where we nearly gave up as a family after unsuccessfully visiting many hospitals including those in Germany, China, and South Africa before she was finally healed in India.

“Doctors in South Africa said she will never regain her sight. However, a friend introduced us to a doctor in India who used herbal medicine to help her recover,” Raila said.

Family

Rosemary is blessed with two daughters, who she adores and says gave her the strength to fight through her illness.