One of Kenya’s most prolific female authors, Marjorie Oludhe Macgoye, is dead. Macgoye died at her home in Ngara on Monday, 30th September.
PEN Kenya Centre President Khainga O’Okwemba said he is shocked by the death of old generation women writers. “It is very saddening to lose her after Margaret Ogolla, Grace Ogot and Asenath Odanga,” O’Okwemba said.
Macgoye had distinguished herself as a writer of poetry, novels and children’s stories. She wrote Homing In, which was second in the Jomo Kenyatta Prize for Literature in 1985.
Marjorie travelled to Kenya to work as a missionary in 1954. She worked at the S.J. Moore Bookshop on Government Road, now Moi Avenue in Nairobi, for some years. While there, she organized readings which were attended by, among others, Okot P’Bitek, the author of Song of Lawino, and Jonathan Kariara, a Kenyan poet.
She met Macgoye, a medical doctor, and the two were married in 1960. In 1971, an anthology entitled Poems from East Africa included the acclaimed poem “A Freedom Song”. Her 1986 novel Coming to Birth won the Sinclair Prize and was used as a set book in Kenyan high schools between the years 2005 – 2008.
The English-born Kenyan writer has been ranked alongside David Maillu, Charles Mangua, Mwangi Gicheru, Ngugi wa Thiong’o, Muthoni Likimani among others.
Kenyan Literature will forever be poorer with the demise of this iconic figure and her death truly marks the end of an era for the age of pioneer female writers. May her soul rest in peace.