When she made her first public appearance few weeks ago, Kibra went wild as the cheerful yet frail Rosemary Odinga made her way into the Raila Odinga Educational Center.
The curious crowd jostled to have a glimpse of the Rose that had bloomed back to life despite the many thorns that had engulfed and were threatening to choke life out of her.
Last year, they had seen her healthy and hearty as she made a stab for the Kibra Parliamentary seat. She was a budding entrepreneur and one of the leading political female voices.
But a sudden illness, however, cut short her ostensibly bump-less ride to the August House — and the Opposition chief Raila Odinga’s eldest daughter vanished from the limelight with reports indicating she was battling a brain tumor.
Yesterday, she sat down with Citizen TV’s Victoria Rubadiri and gripped the National with her emotional yet brave journey from uncertainty to hope.
Rosemary narrated how a trip to Naivasha with her daughters could have been her last had help not arrived in time.
“I was doing a workshop for ladies who want to be politicians, and my head was just aching. Then I remember I was called for breakfast and I couldn’t open the door… eventually, after knocking and opening the door, I just collapsed onto the help who was there,” recalls Ms. Odinga.
“My older daughter ran to the clinic and they sent an ambulance which came and picked me up. Then they said we could drive to Nairobi but I said I couldn’t make it so they sent for a chopper which brought me to Nairobi.”
The mother of two further emotively recalled how, upon arrival at the hospital in Nairobi, the doctor informed her that had they brought her using the ambulance by road then she would almost certainly not have made it.
The 41 year old was then diagnosed with two aneurysms, which were clipped here in Kenya, as well as a brain tumor, which was removed in China upon the suggestion of her friends.
On her blindness she said: “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.”
Ms. Odinga said they are unsure whether it was the operations carried out on her but that caused her blindness but what she is certain of though is that she’s not giving up on her eye sight; not just yet.
“As a family, and with my friends, we’re still looking to see what is out there in the world because we hear that there are some solutions,” she said. .
She revealed her struggles and “crying all the time” and thinking about giving up and feeling helpless and hopeless during her first stages of partial blindness. She said not being bale to cook, drive, go to the stores alone or pick her clothes makes her feel ‘less useful’ at times.
With the help of her children, friends, family and community members who occasionally show up to pray for her she says she has now adapted to her new lifestyle and can even find her way around the house and choose her own outfits.
“I draw strength from my daughters… because of them, I’m alive. I said to myself, ‘if I give up now, what am I teaching them? Am I teaching them that whenever you have a hiccup in life to give up?’ And I said ‘No! I have to continue and try and be successful,’” said Ms. Odinga.
Weakened but unbowed, Rosemary did not rule out possibility of making a comeback into elective politics.
“There are so many examples in the world of persons with disability who are able to provide leadership to the community and I’ll say what I’ve always said: if God gives me an opportunity, and people are willing to support me, then I’ll not shy away from a leadership position,” she stated.
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