“It’s good to be a wife, but it’s good to be an educated wife. Being a wife, it’s just not a position of subordination — it’s a position of strength.”
Ida Odinga= Former First Lady of Kenya.
We were in Rusinga Island, Kenya. Our mission of traveling the country, meeting the women who are creating positive change, hearing their stories and understanding their spirit as only one woman can to another, when the unexpected happened.
Little did we know when we started on our journey with 17 women and teen girls that there would be a woman awaiting us, an unexpected woman, not of poverty and frustration, but nevertheless just like us and the others we were to meet; a woman of passion and conviction for a better world.
Do you believe that things come into your life because they’re supposed to? Do you believe that change happens, events unfold, and relationships take place because powerful energy is working it out for us?
That’s how we felt the day Raila and Ida Odinga, former prime minister and first lady of Kenya, landed in their helicopter at our private little lodge on Rusinga Island, at the edge of Lake Victoria in Northern Kenya.
They were there for holiday. They were there for political reasons as Prime Minister Odinga had just spoken out against President Kenyatta about the problem of terrorism in Western Kenya and the Somalis terrorist attacks. They were there because they would touch our hearts, give us insight into Kenya and connect with us in our role of changing the lives of people around the world. But none of us knew that when we woke up on Friday morning, June 20, 2014
Because our lodge was small and only accommodated our little group, we were asked if we could double up to make room for a special and unexpected overnight guest. And we did.
As our group ate dinner, we could view the two of them having their dinner in a makeshift area in the manager’s office, so as not to disturb our group. Watching the World Cup, the news broke in about Odinga’s stand earlier that day on exposing the terrorism problem in Kenya. He stated that it does exist. And Kenyatta should come together with all Kenyan’s including himself, to stand up in unity against the Somalis.
Leaving for their room, they walked past our table and Sally invited Ida to join us for a glass of wine. Ida said “yes”. And that, my friends, was the beginning of a fabulous conversation about being a first lady in Kenya, about the importance of education particularly for girls, about rising up against FGM (Female Genital Mutilation) a barbaric tradition that still lives there.
She told us of her efforts to bring women together in leadership for a better Kenya through founding and developing the League of Women Voters and Ida spoke of motherhood, raising 4 children on her own while her husband was in political prison for ten years. And she spoke of her support of our work and her intent to partner with Women Like Us Foundation for a better world.
A friend of Winnie Mandella, she knows what it is to stand up for the rights of others and speak out as a woman for a better world.
Yes, indeed, Ida Odinga is a Woman Like Us. In 2010 the Standard Press stated she was the second most powerful woman in Kenya. Her story is different but her passions are shared with all of us. Just like the other women we met on our journey in Africa.
At the end of the evening, Ida agreed to meet us at 7AM for an interview to be used in our documentary. Her words were clear, her passion was obvious and her love for her country was evident.
And, when all was done and we posed for a picture together, former Prime Minister Odinga stepped out of his cottage and asked to be in the photo with us. When we asked him where he was headed next, he told us he was off to lead a public rally. He and Ida, leading the way for the future of Kenya.