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Manduli remembered for women empowerment

The recent passing on of veteran politician and staunch female empowerment advocate Orie Rogo Manduli has brought back memories of the numerous things that she was famous for.

Despite her comical style of handling issues, it appears that she will not be forgotten any time soon. Many residents of Kiambu County have agreed that she broke the insurmountable barriers and paved the way for younger women to have a say in the society.

KNA took the streets of Kiambu to find out from Kenyans whether they know the former Miss Kenya and what struck them most about her. From her exploits as the first female rally driver in Kenya to her prowess in the beauty pageants to her sense of fashion and her stance on the rights of women, Kenyans had a lot to say about the iconic woman.

“The first thing you note about Orie Rogo Manduli is the headscarf,” Joyce Ng’ang’a told KNA. “I do not know anyone else who wore it that way, it made her standout and look bold and confident,” Nganga remarked of the trademark head scarfs that Manduli had on whenever she appeared in public.

Njeri Wamaitha, a tailor in Kiambu agreeing with Ng’ang’a said that she had good fashion sense. “She always dressed decently and elegantly and in African wear which many would shun but not her, she made African dressing look very tasteful and desirable,” she said.

Others remembered her for her bold nature, saying that she was not afraid of speaking her mind and held to her opinions and views on various matters even when the sentiments were unpopular.

“When we lived in a society dominated by men, she is among the few women who stood up to fight for the rights of women and to demand respect for women in the society,” Jonah Mwaniki avers. “We cannot talk about women empowerment in this country without mentioning the name of this great woman,” he adds.

Kimani Njue, sharing Mwaniki’s sentiments, spoke of an incident in 2005 that made the headlines in which Manduli who was then the Chairperson of the Non-Governmental Organizations council refused to relinquish her post, locking herself in her office at the council’s premises.

“Despite the pressure heaped on her to stand down, she stayed put and even locked herself in the office,” Njue recalls. “I remember seeing on TV, police officers camping at the gates of the offices as Manduli talked to the press through a hole in the gate,” he said.

By Duncan Mutwiri

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