Dr. Margaret Ogola
Her Work and Service to Promote Human Life and the Human Family
Dr Margaret Atieno Ogola had an exceptional passion about human life and the human family in particular. It did not matter the theme of her discussion or writing, she would always highlight the uniqueness of every human being and his or her right to life; to be born into a family and to receive the warmth of parents and the wider family members.
This was one of her most poignant points of her speech at the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995. Said Dr Ogola “Unless we recognize that each individual is unrepeatable and valuable by virtue of simply being conceived human, we cannot begin to talk about human rights. This includes the right to be born, as all of us have enjoyed.”
This fact was important for Dr Ogola who is emphatic in her writings that the family is constituted by individual persons with specific human characteristics like intellect, will and gender. In her literary works, she is categorical that the dignity of man, woman or child remained unblemished by disability, old age or social standing. Each individual remained an important member of the family and society and deserved protection and above all love.
Even as her fame in the defence of the human family was growing in the international forum, Dr Ogola was simultaneously using her literary prowess to bring out what she calls the “undefeatable womanhood of Africa” in her maiden book the River and the Source which was the award winning novel of the Jomo Kenyatta Prize for Literature1995 and the Commonwealth Writer’s Prize Africa Region, Best First Book 1995.
The River and the Source is a book about the family. It brings out the unbowed spirit of the African woman standing by her spouse and children to face challenges that come with changes encountered by four generations of the same family.
In this book the woman is depicted as the pillar of the family without diminishing the deference she shows to her husband as the head of the family while he lived. Both husband and wife are involved in the upbringing of their children as is the case of Elizabeth Awiti and Mark Oloo Sigu and later Aoro Sigu and Wandia Mugo.
Dr Margaret Ogola’s books are replete with human virtues. After acknowledging the God-given dignity of every human person she brings out the qualities which make people attractive and the family the place to be. For her every person should do her or his part to contribute to the family warmth. In this context she says hard things to those people who fail to live according to the norm set out by God – Were in The River and the Source. It is a reflection of her effort in life to turn those she came into contact with into proud members of the family and society. In regard to African values she said in Beijing: “While recognizing that there are some undesirable aspects of our indigenous cultures, we must not abandon it whole sale in preference for imported Western values as contained in the document, which are unclear about important issues like family and gender. Family is the corner stone of our societies and culture, and the source of our strength.”
In her second book I Swear by Apollo, a sequel The River and the Source, Dr Ogola brings out the best of herself as a medical doctor – a Paediatrician. For her, every life is worth protecting and loving even in the case of child a with Down Syndrome like Daniel, Wandia and Aoro’s first son. Margaret defends Daniel fearlessly showing how the sick bring about more unity into the family.
In a small book she authored with her husband, Dr George Ogola, they underline the inalienable right and duty of parents to educate their children especially on one of the most sensitive aspects of formation – sex education. In order to underline the sacredness of the source of human life, they suggested the title – Educating in Human Love for the booklet. Essentially, it brings out “the irreplaceable role of parents educating children in matters of sexuality”.
Her penultimate book – A place of Destiny – Dr Ogola shows the family how to handle sickness and pain just as she does in all her writings including the posthumous title – Mandate of the People. In this last book, the protagonist politician manages his campaigns supported by friends and colleagues but more so by his wife and by his love for his young son. The book is a course on integrity and unity between spouses.
Dr Ogola’s optimism and good humour run through all her literary texts just as it did in her life. It was a joy to be with Margaret. She could afford a joke even during the most excruciating pain she suffered in the last days the cancer that killed her. Being a Christian she accepted the will of God. That is how she was able to remain a strong and cheerful pillar of her family and friends till the end of her days.
The doctoral and Masters studies done on the literary works of Dr Margaret Atieno Ogola are a testimony to her sense of commitment to the cause of defending and protecting human life and family.