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    Live commentary interview

    [1]She is a rich history of controversy, but there is more to Orie than meets the eye.  We spent a day with this extraordinary woman trying to unravel what makes her tick. She comes across such a complex character, that one is hard-pressed to describe her in just one paragraph. Watching her on television, she cuts a combative, aggressive and fierce image. There’s no doubt that she is a spit fire. She speaks her mind and is not afraid to fight her battles on her own, be they private or public. Another thing that many will agree on is that she is no shrinking violet-she loves attention, dresses to capture it and will gladly pose for a camera for hours, proudly flaunting what she calls her “Latin figure”. She is Orie Rogo Manduli and she is extraordinary.

    Fascinated by this woman who has knack for courting controversy as much as public attention, we decided to spend a day with her, hoping to find just what makes her tick. We ended up getting more than we bargained for – a different side of Orie that the public hardly ever gets to see. It came as no surprise that the outer walls of her colonial-style are painted a brilliant orange. That’s vintage Orie. She does things differently. Her bedroom where we do some of the chatting as she spruces herself up for a photo shoot, is filled with rows and rows of shoes, a large wardrobe full of brilliantly colored African outfits (she makes her own clothes) and a couple of weaved containers holding an assortment of makeup and tons of jewellery. Going through her photo albums, it is evident that Orie’s sense of style has matured with age, but it is no less flashy, what with her legendary head pieces which have become her trade mark. Njung’e (2008) reports on the side of Orie Rogo Manduli.

    Question: You’re so smart, what do you tell us?

    Orie: I take pride in looking good always. Today’s women are not keen on how they look (she offers swiping red lipstick on her generous lips).

    Question: What was your parent’s take towards your education, and exposure?

    Orie: My parents were both teachers. They taught us to believe that we were destined for great    things. Being teachers they understood the importance of education and always encouraged us to work hard, saying this was the only way we could get ahead in life. I’m well read myself, and currently pursuing my master’s degree at the University of Texas at Austin. In addition, I’ve always wanted a good life, therefore I work hard: I own a wheat farm in Manitoba and I also do distribute health products.

    Question: You have been the chairperson of NGOs council, but two weeks ago someone else took over the helm of the council which you have steered for the past four years. Can we say you are now idle?

    Orie: Far from it. I still have a lot of organisations to steer. I’ve thrown my weight behind ETAGOA, East Africa, (Enlarge the Tent Evangelical Outreach Association), a church based organization founded in 1984 and which draws its members from 109 member countries all over the world. With all these responsibilities my calendar is packed.

    [2](Barely an hour into the interview, two vans loads of people drive into the compound. They are ETAGOA members who have come to pay her a courtesy call. For a while I’m forgotten as she greets each one of them, heartily welcoming them to her home. She later explains that they are shooting a documentary to chronicle the strides the strides that the organization has taken)

    Question:  What do you say of Dr. George Gitau, the man who has succeeded you at the NGO council?

    Orie: He is a good man, he will succeed but I think he needs to toughen up a little. To survive the “murky depths of civil society” one has to develop a thick skin.

    Question: Women hold a special place in your heart. In fact if I remember very well, you were once accused of being a ‘female chauvinist’ because of your radical position on women’s side. Why this stance?

    Answer: I have a strong motivation for taking women’s side, having grown up seeing women take whatever life dished out since they were not economically empowered. I grew up in Kaloleni where girls married very young. Some would be grabbed from school and married off old men. These girls lived a miserable life. I still feel that year’s later women are not yet empowered. Real freedom comes from the pocket. Without a well lined one, life is difficult.

    Question: You’re in your mid fifties, but you have the energy of a 20 year old. What is the secret?

    Orie: I got married so young that I never had a chance to be a girl. I jumped from childhood right into womanhood. I am now living the life that I was denied years ago.

    Question: Tell us about your parents.

    Orie: Our parents separated while we were still very young; it was my mother who took the responsibility of raising us on her own. A daunting responsibility which she executed the only way she knows how- with single minded dedication. I actually think she did a superb job. Mum worked hard to ensure that to ensure that we had the best of everything. But even as she put in extra hours at work and performed odd jobs such as looking after other people’s children and cleaning their houses, she always had time her children. We never lacked for anything, and she was always there when we needed her.

    Question: Your mother was seen by the public as a dictator. What was it being raised up by a mother like yours?

    Orie: Those who do not know have the misconception that she is a harsh person. When people find out that she is my mother, they assume I must have had a rough childhood. It is quite the opposite. Mum never beat us… her voice was just enough to tame us into obedience.

    (She quips referring to her mother’s commanding voice)

                    She is a very understanding, approachable person, the best mother a teenager would hope to have. But she was also firm, ensuring that her children grew up to be responsible and respectful of other people. We had everything we wanted but she did not spoil us. She had boundaries erected in place and we better that cross them.

    Question: After your parents separated, did you ever had a chance of meeting your father?

    Orie: Of course yes, our mother would ensure that each time we came home for school holidays, we would visit our dad. Whenever we protested, she reminded us that even though they were no longer together and he played no role in our lives, he was still our dad and we owed him respect.

    Question: Did your mum ever get married after the first divorce?

    Orie: (sounding remorseful) mum thought that she will never get another man once she separated from our dad. She thought she could never find a man she could be happy with and she often told us that (smiles). Because to me mum was like a sister, I kept reminding her that good men do exist and that a good one would find her. (Laughs) .But true to my prophetic words she did find her knight in shining amour, in Misheck Norman Manduli, a widower and a descendant of one of Zambia’s royal families, in 1981. By this time she had all but given up on men, immersing herself in work and taking care of us. She had travelled to Zambia, to do a story of the BBC.

    Question: Do you feel you have accomplished everything you ever wanted?

    Orie: I would like to be the first African-American woman to go to space, but even if I don’t get to do it, at least I have enjoyed my life and done it my way.


    [3]In as much as we may acknowledge that the world is changing and that women ought to be taking up the positions naturally meant to be for men, the Afro-American women are still struggling to overcome this primitive belief. We are proud of the likes of Orie Rogo, because we look at their struggle to excel in a male dominated society, and we find a picture of hope. Njung’e (2008) reports on the side of Orie Rogo Manduli.


    Morreale, S.P, (2004) Introduction to human communication, Wadsworth/Thomson Learning, Belmont, CA94002-3098 USA. (Pg A1-A10).
    Njung’e, C 2008, ‘The other side of Orie Rogo Manduli’, Saturday Nation, 26 July, p. 6.

    [1] Morreale, S.P, (2004) Introduction to human communication.
    [2] Morreale, S.P, (2004) Introduction to human communication.
    [3] Morreale, S.P, (2004) Introduction to human communication.

    Live commentary interview. (2016, Dec 27). Retrieved from

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