The Immortals: The enduring brainbox of the Ojiambos

Dr Julia Ojiambo
Dr Julia Ojiambo was a presidential running-mate back in 2007 general elections Photo: Courtesy

The Ojiambos were nurtured by missionary parents, strict disciplinarians, who valued education. The result is a near genetic, academic geniuses in their second generation:

Prof Hillary Ojiambo: Kenya’s first cardiologist and founder (with Prof Peter Odhiambo) of the Kenya Cardiac Society in 1980. The late professor of medicine and head of cardiology department at the University of Nairobi helped establish the clinical science labs at Kenyatta National Hospital for the School of Medicine. The man who kept a rosary, Bible and dummy heart on his desk, died in April 1997 and was survived by his wife, Dr Julia Ojiambo and their children Josephine, Jack, ‘Tess’ and Sanda.

Dr Julia Ojiambo: A presidential running-mate in the 2007 general elections, she was Kenya’s second woman elected MP (Funyula) in 1974. The author of Trees of Kenya (1978) is an alumnus of the University of Nairobi (education), London University (applied human nutrition), Harvard (Msc nutrition) and McGill (PhD human nutrition). She is the first woman to be appointed assistant minister (housing and social services) and is credited with developing a protein-rich biscuit used in the treatment of kwashiorkor. Dr Ojiambo was the chair of Kenya Plants Health Inspectorate Services (Kephis) until 2012.

Dr Josephine Ojiambo: The alumnus of Hebrew University (Masters in Public Health and Community Medicine) and University of Nairobi (Medicine and Surgery), was also a one-time chief of the Executive Board, United Nations Population Fund and Kenya’s ambassador to the UN for two years to 2012. The mother of an electrical engineer, a lawyer, a pharmacist and an environmental scientist is currently the Deputy Secretary General of the Commonwealth Secretariat.

Jack Ojiambo: He is an arbitration lawyer and jazz aficionado best known for the 16-year reign of the Capital Jazz Club. The alumnus of Alliance High School and London University was also a presenter at South Africa’s All Jazz Radio, Africa’s first 24-hour online radio station.

Theresa Tess Ojiambo: She is a consultant management trainer. She attended London University (MA law) and as the head of business at Kenya Commercial Bank, she helped establish one of the most successful custody departments in Kenya.

Sanda Ojiambo: The alumnus of the University of Minnesota (Msc Public Policy and Development Economics) and McGill (Economics and International Development) is an economist and public policy analyst and head of corporate responsibility at Safaricom.

Marie Ojiambo: She is the daughter of Dr Josephine and an alumnus of the University of Nairobi (Pharmacy), St Johns University, New York (Masters in Industrial Pharmacy) and the 213 Miss Africa USA finalist, as well as a campaigner against sickle cell anaemia.

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