Kenya’s first female Member of Parliament (MP), Mama Grace Onyango, is dead.
Grace Onyango, 98, died while receiving treatment at Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Teaching and Referral Hospital (JOOTRH) in Kisumu.
The celebrated icon was a woman of many fists who started out as a teacher. She later served as the first female Mayor of Kisumu Town from 1965-1969.
In 1969 she was elected as the first female MP in post-independence Kenya, representing Kisumu Town Constituency.
In parliament, she is remembered for her no nonsense demeanor, as she stood firm and championed for the rights of women.
In a male dominated House, Mama Grace Onyango went ahead and became the first woman to act as Deputy Speaker, a position she held from 1979-1984. She took a break from politics after losing the seat to Wilson Ndolo Ayah in 1984.
Her daughter, Pauline Akwacha said the former legislator’s death on International Women’s day, has left a big gap in the family and country. She described her as a mentor and pillar whose work impacted positively on other women across the country.
Mama Grace cause to champion for women rights, she said, was evident in the number of key positions held by women in the country today.
Various leaders and women described Mama Grace Onyango as a trailblazer, who played a critical role to shape the development of the country.
Kisumu Governor, Prof. Anyang Nyong’o, in a statement, described her as a pillar of women leadership and a great role model who blazed the trail in the county’s political leadership.
Her death just hours after being honoured during the International Women Day celebrations, he said, was a big blow. “Grace was selfless, focused and visionary. A mother and grandmother to many. She will be remembered for mentoring young girls and women leaders,” he said.
By Chris Mahandara