Rosemary Odinga is a Kenyan of Luo descent; she is an entrepreneur and an advocate for alternative agriculture and proponent of social equality. She is best known as the only snail farmer in East Africa.
The charismatic lady is a daughter to Raila Odinga and Ida Odinga. She was born on August 13; 1977 and was raised in the uptown suburb of Kileleshwa, together with her siblings, Raila Jr, Winnie and the late Fidel Castro. Her paternal grandfather Jaramogi Oginga Odinga was an internationally renowned independence struggle politician who became independent Kenya’s first Vice President and later a key opposition figure in the country.
She started school at the Kilimani Junior Academy. Rosemary and her siblings lives would then change for the worse, when their father was detained by the then president, Daniel Arap Moi, during the abortive coup in 1982. Their mother, a teacher in a public school would have to transfer them to a public school to economize. They struggled to get a school that would admit them due to fear of reprisal from the authoritarian Moi regime. It was only with the intervention and help from their grandfather Jaramogi, that Rosemary and her brothers secured admission at the Catholic Church run Consolata Primary School in Westlands. It is while at Consolata that Rosemary converted from the Anglican Church to her Roman Catholic Church.
Rosemary and her siblings spent their childhood and teenage years without the presence of their father who was in and out of detention for the better parts of the 1980s. The family also bore the brunt of the excesses of the Moi regime as the now sole breadwinner, Ida also endured several arrests. Their home was raided and ransacked dozens of times by officers from the dreaded Special Branch.
The Kibera aspiring Member of Parliament and her siblings had a tough childhood, some classmates avoided playing with them and children from their neighborhood were warned not to socialize with them by their parents.
She went on to study in America and while there, Rosemary just like other immigrant students, worked on odd jobs to make ends meet far away from home. Her jobs included housekeeping, mailroom attendant and she also worked as an intern associate. She later worked for three years at Western Union, Texas as a marketing representative for the African Diaspora. She returned home in 2007 after 10 years of study and work in the US, Rosemary founded and served as the chief executive officer of the Raila Odinga Centre (ROC), a foundation focusing on youth and education in East Africa.
Having come from a family that engaged in politics, it was only natural that she would also be active in the same, when she was only 14, her father first ran for parliament in 1992 in Langata Constituency in Nairobi. She would accompany him for door-to-door campaigns in the sprawling Kibera Slums. During the same time, she also attended several rallies by the Forum for the Restoration of Democracy (FORD Kenya) where her grandfather was the presidential candidate for the 1992 elections.
After returning from her studies in 2007, Rosemary joined her father’s presidential campaigns where she played a key role in the communications department. In 2013, Rosemary was also involved in the CORD coalition election campaigns as a member of the ‘Nairobi for Raila’ lobby group. Rosemary is a member of the International Young Leaders Association (IYLA). She attended their conference at the UN Assembly Hall in New York where she also gave a keynote address in August 2015.