This memorial website was created to remember the life and legacy of our beloved, Prof Norah Khadzini Olembo.  Download the funeral program here.  Watch the funeral livestream here.

It is with great sorrow that we announce the death of Professor Norah Khadzini Olembo.

She was the beloved wife of the late Professor Reuben James Olembo. 

Prof. Norah Olembo was the daughter of the late Benjamin Shitsugane Ngaira and the late Berita Khasoha, daughter-in-law to the  late Rev. Habil and the late Rev. Josephine Olembo. 

She was mother to Kenneth Shitsugane Olembo, the late Caroline Olembo-Katuramu, Lynnette Andeyo Olembo and Lilian Amimo Olembo. 

She was a sister to  the late Dr. Benaiah Majisu, Eddah Ngaira, the late Jemima Kaisha, Flora Wako, Jane Ngaira, the late Mary Ngaira, Eliud Ngaira, Enid Ngaira the late Alice Ngaira-Kityo, and Pamela Mukasa.

Sister-in-law to the late Samuel Olung’ati Olembo, the late Evans Olembo, Christine Wakhu, Lydia Shikumo, the late Johnstone Olembo, Dr. Sarah Olembo, Aggrey Olembo and Dr. Naaman Olembo. 

She was aunt to Agnetta, Perpetua, Dorothy, Janelyn, Uduak, the late Eric, Amanda, Joe, Deborah, Muyesu, Iminza, Jerry, Angela, Alessandra, Sharon, Edward, Rose, Elizabeth, Rupy and many others. 
Posted by Uduak Amimo on April 5, 2021
Tribute to Prof Norah Khadzini Olembo, the ‘graceful genius’
By Prof Julia Ojiambo
Chairperson of the Council of the University of Nairobi
Daily Nation, Monday, April 05, 2021

Today, as I reflect on Norah’s life of extraordinary achievement, no two words seem as fitting to describe this amazing woman as ‘graceful genius’. Norah was a beautiful woman, inside and out. She was a gentle caring mother, a loyal friend to me and to many, and an academician par excellence.

She was my respectful student and I am proud that she called me Mwalimu. Norah was authentic with people, saying what needed to be said because it was good for the relationship and for the soul. She offered valuable advice to her family, to her rural community, to her students and academic colleagues, and to local and international leadership in equal measure.
Posted by Monica Mpole on April 5, 2021
Am so sorry you had to leave.Dear Prof.Norah Olembo- you will always be in my heart.I thank God for having you as my head of department In biochemistry and guiding me in my multidisciplinary work on indigenous vegetables of Kenya from 1985.Rest in peace dear Prof.for you accomplished one of your missions of placing intellectual property on the map of Kenya. Rest the well.-Monica Opole-former staff Department of Biochemistry.
Posted by George Were on March 29, 2021
Extremely sorry and pained to learn the passing on of my teacher in year 1 Biochemistry at Chiromo. Prof was brilliant but humble. May her soul RIP. May the family gain strength in these difficult times of loss. 
Posted by Mwenda Mbaka on March 29, 2021
I remember her gentle smile, gentle counsel and charismatic encouragement. This is several years ago when I wanted to understand what intellectual property rights was all about. I wanted to patent some Ideas, and she gently told me that my desires were beyond the scope of the mandate of her organization, but that it was an idea to aspire to achieve. I was fulfilled, satisfied, by her genteel nature.

I met her once, but the impact is an enduring warmth in my soul.... I hope in my life, I have emulated her.....and I tried to. I deliberately tried to emulate her, as I guided my students when I taught at University.

So Prof, fare thee well.... I trust that besides the after life in the land beyond the pearl gates, there is life after death in this world....where the warmth of your heart, resonates with the lives or the living.... Where your legacy opens doors to your children, your grand children, and all those that thrive under the luminescence of your legacy

RIP Prof....
Posted by Rose Ndegwa on March 24, 2021
I have just learnt of Prof. Olembo's death (Prof, as we called her) and I am really sad. I owe my whole professional career life to this great woman. She was my Director at the Kenya Industrial Property Office (currently Kenya Industrial Property Institute) where I was employment as a fresh graduate right out of the university. Prof steered the institute during is infancy and formative years and supported many young professionals who were just starting out on their careers. I was one of them. Because of her support, I was able to proceed for my masters, and to later start a position with an international organization. I can't say enough about how she impacted my life and no doubt that of many others. May her soul rest in peace. 
Posted by Uduak Amimo on March 23, 2021
End of era as Prof Norah Olembo is laid to rest
By Dorothy Kweyu
Daily Nation, Saturday, March 20, 2021

Yesterday marked the end of an era for the academic community in general and for Kenya’s women’s movement in particular. Prof Norah Khadzini Olembo, who passed away on March 11, was laid to rest in her matrimonial home in Bunyore, Vihiga County, after losing the battle to a cancerous tumour in her mouth that was diagnosed only 10 months ago.
Posted by reena ool on March 22, 2021
Thank you for the endless and brilliant service to the University of Nairobi fraternity. Rest in Peace
Posted by Pamela Minyenya Stephen M... on March 20, 2021
You were an epitome of beauty in and out. Your smile was infectious. Your love for plants was amazing. Your passing on shocked me because the last I saw you... you were dancing . You hosted my little daughter then and myself to tea at your Lavington home and took us through your greenhouse. Rest ma greetings to B. N. Majisu. Rest in power away from pain ma!

Much love
Posted by Isabel Olembo on March 17, 2021
Weep Not For Me

Weep not for me though I have gone
Into that gentle night
Grieve if you will, but not for long
Upon my soul’s sweet fight

I am at peace, my soul’s at rest
There is no need for tears
For with your love I was so blessed
For all those many years

There is no pain, I suffer not
The fear is now all gone
Put now these things out of your thoughts
In your memory I live on

Remember not my fight for breath
Remember not the strife
Please do not dwell upon my death
But celebrate my life.

Author Unknown.
Posted by Suzanne Jambo on March 16, 2021
You were a beautiful soul, one of Africa’s finest scientists. Our heartfelt condolences to Kenya’s the Olembo family on the passing of Professor Norah Khadzini Olembo. A phenomenal female scientist, one of Africa’s finest.

Briefly, the late Prof. Norah Olembo was the Executive Director of African Biotechnology Stakeholders Forum, ABSF. She held numerous scientific degrees and a PHD in biology, biochemistry, zoology, botany and physics from Kenya, the USA and the UK.

A truly amazing soul she was. I had the honor of meeting Auntie Prof. Norah Olembo a few times at the family residence in Nairobi. One of the most humbling and touching encounters was her inviting me to her home-based green-house, filled with my favorite flower plant, the Orchid. Auntie Prof. Norah spent countless times nurturing these beautiful plants.

The late Auntie Prof. Norah Olembo passion was unmatchable. Her beauty was in her caring and soft-spokenness. We enjoyed endless cups of “Luhya chai”.

Words aren’t enough to express her loss to Kenya, to Africa and the world. Prof. Norah Olembo courageously fought the good fight, may God R.I.P her beautiful soul

She was married to the late Professor Reuben James Olembo (RIP, 2005), who was also a prominent Kenyan academic, scientist and environmentalist. He was a Deputy Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme, UNEP.

Our prayers with her children, who are dear friends and have been a true family to me. Big Bro Kenny, amazing sisters Lynette and Lilian, our prayers with you all, we mourn with you❤️
Posted by Hudson Khasakhala on March 16, 2021
You were a shining star , who always brightened our lives . I will miss your smile and compassion. Go well aunty Norah.  May your memories be a blessing to the family and all of us who had the privilege of knowing you .
Posted by Herold Beneah on March 16, 2021

Prof. Norah was one of my biochemistry teachers at UoN Chiromo. Many years after I left Chiromo, Lillian her daughter invited me to their house for lunch and we had a heart chat for hours. She was always in such high spirits and such fun to chat with. A couple of years later, I attended their family New Years celebration party with her nieces and my friends Amanda Majisu and Mugumira . I had a chance to speak to her more about her stellar career as a scientist. She gave me such priceless advice on how to remain motivated in a career with constantly changing directions. I will miss her immensely. May she rest in eternal Peace.
Posted by Nancy Tiang’a on March 16, 2021
Rest In Peace Aunty, loved & missed.
Posted by Pet Tasara on March 16, 2021
Aunty, you are resting now. You lived a good life. You are loved and you showed love always. I remember meeting you for the first time as a young bride, and I thought to myself now when they speak about women with power you are the poster girl. You were always stylish in your twin set suit and a string of pearls around your neck and perfect nails when the occasion called for it. When you were chilled you would be a vision with your stylish African kaftans. You were a good Mum, a good aunt, a good wife and a good professional. You are my hero! I won't forget your kind words to me and words of advise on becoming part of a new family. Your constant support I will always cherish. You will be missed and I will always love you. Rest in peace Aunty Norah.
Posted by Emily Mudoga on March 16, 2021
As a veterinarian I amongst a group of persons who had the privilege of having her teach us. What was most hilarious at my time is that me and cousin Imbugi Luvai were in the same vet year and here we were having to pretend to be good in Auntie - Profs class and just like her true character no favours we had to pass. Apart from that I want to pass my love to Lynette who was my class mate in high school and Lillian, it is funny how small a circle this world can be. Rest in peace Auntie Prof and when you get to heaven show them those amazing skills you shared with us, Thank you.
Posted by Pamela Mukasa on March 16, 2021
Always remembered with fond memories.

Leave a Tribute

Recent Tributes
Posted by Uduak Amimo on April 5, 2021
Tribute to Prof Norah Khadzini Olembo, the ‘graceful genius’
By Prof Julia Ojiambo
Chairperson of the Council of the University of Nairobi
Daily Nation, Monday, April 05, 2021

Today, as I reflect on Norah’s life of extraordinary achievement, no two words seem as fitting to describe this amazing woman as ‘graceful genius’. Norah was a beautiful woman, inside and out. She was a gentle caring mother, a loyal friend to me and to many, and an academician par excellence.

She was my respectful student and I am proud that she called me Mwalimu. Norah was authentic with people, saying what needed to be said because it was good for the relationship and for the soul. She offered valuable advice to her family, to her rural community, to her students and academic colleagues, and to local and international leadership in equal measure.
Posted by Monica Mpole on April 5, 2021
Am so sorry you had to leave.Dear Prof.Norah Olembo- you will always be in my heart.I thank God for having you as my head of department In biochemistry and guiding me in my multidisciplinary work on indigenous vegetables of Kenya from 1985.Rest in peace dear Prof.for you accomplished one of your missions of placing intellectual property on the map of Kenya. Rest the well.-Monica Opole-former staff Department of Biochemistry.
Posted by George Were on March 29, 2021
Extremely sorry and pained to learn the passing on of my teacher in year 1 Biochemistry at Chiromo. Prof was brilliant but humble. May her soul RIP. May the family gain strength in these difficult times of loss. 
her Life

Prof Norah Khadzini Olembo O.G.W.

Norah Khadzini Olembo was the third of eleven children born to the late Benjamin Shitsugane Ngaira and the late Berita Khasoha at Kaimosi Mission Hospital on the 10th of June, 1941. She said that a year spent there for treatment of a stomach ailment developed her love for science. 

Norah’s early childhood was spent at the Mission where her father was the chairman of Friends Church of East Africa. It was a simple life. She and her siblings would wake up at 3am to walk four kilometres to the shamba where she was very good at digging and selling the produce they harvested like maize and beans at the market in Mbale. Norah was a hardworking child. She was jolly and generous. And cheeky! So that when her mother wanted to discipline her for some misdemeanour or another, she would say, “No! You’re not going to beat me, I’m going to my Koko’s house,” and run to her grandmother Mwayitsi to avoid punishment. 

“Musolole” was the name Norah earned for herself due to her love of people. She loved her siblings, cousins and aunts very much.

At a young age Norah was mature and responsible and would watch over all the younger ones. When there was a family wedding, she would lead in the singing of wedding songs sitting on what was then called the African trailer, a wagon pulled by cows. She was introduced to European children’s stories, like Cinderella, because she went to Kaimosi Primary School. Those stories she would share with her younger siblings and cousins during the holidays. 

So strong was Norah’s sense of responsibility that while caring for her mother who was admitted to hospital with a broken arm, Norah noticed that there were patients who had no one to care for them and asked her mother for permission to help the other patients. 

It was no surprise in 1960 that Norah would gain admission and become Head Girl at the first girls secondary school to be established in Western Kenya, Butere High School.  “For Only the Best” – the school moto - was a fitting description for Norah and her friends like Lady Just Effie Owuor, who would later become her sister-in-law. There was nothing that Norah did not excel at: academics, sports (running, netball, hockey) and dancing. So brightly did her star shine that the Friends Church, Kaimosi sponsored her A- Level education in the United Kingdom at Mount School in York between 1962 and 1964 to further her interest in science. She became the school’s hockey team captain and won several championships. 

Norah returned to Kenya to pursue her Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry, Zoology and Botany from the University of Nairobi. She was also a beauty queen at the university and it was here that she attracted the attentions of a visiting lecturer from Makerere College, Reuben James Olembo. Reuben invited Norah to the Casino in Nairobi for dinner to make his intentions clear, she went with her friend Myra Mutsune. Their courtship apparently proceeded after he obliged her request to shave his beard.  Both Reuben and Norah came from Christian homes and so their union was welcomed and celebrated. 

Norah fit well into the Olembo home, becoming very popular with her nieces and nephews. She cooked in the kitchen with her mother-in-law, and served everyone regardless of their status. She also worked hard to uplift people by organising self-help groups. Whenever she arrived in the village, everyone wanted to see Reuben’s wife because of her beauty and open nature. Their first children, Kenneth Shitsugane and the late Caroline Olembo- Katuramu were born in 1969. They went on to have two more children, Lynnette Andeyo and Lilian Amimo. 

Marriage did not stop Norah’s academic and professional ambitions. She obtained her Master’s degree in Zoology and her Ph.D in Biochemistry from the University of Nairobi, along with a post-doctorate degree in Molecular Biology from Courtauld Institute at the University of London in the United Kingdom. She had additional certificates in related disciplines from institutions all over the world. 

She started working at the University of Nairobi as a graduate research assistant while working on her Master’s and taught there for several years as an 

Associate Professor of Biochemistry, eventually becoming the first African professor of Biochemistry, and chair of the Biochemistry Department. Insects were one of her many research subjects with colleagues like the late Prof. Analee Mengech along with the role of biotechnology and biodiversity in ensuring food security, alleviating disease and protecting the environment. This led to an assignment as a consultant for the Kenyan Non-Governmental Organizations Committee for the 1995 United Nations End of Decade Women Conference.

Norah was seconded from the University to the Ministry of Trade and Industry in 1992 to set up Kenya’s intellectual property offices. She served as the Director of the Kenya Industrial Property Office (KIPO) for ten years. She then served as the  Managing Director of Kenya Industrial Property Institute (KIPI) between 2002 and 2003.  

The thread that ran through her professional service was her commitment to indigenous African science and innovation. This commitment is evident through the numerous boards that she served on and chaired: the Kenya Radiation Protection Board, the African Technology Policy Secretariat, the Pest Control Board, Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI), and Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC). Her service to Kenya as one the country’s and Africa’s foremost scientists was recognised in 2001 when the government gave her the national honour of the Order of Grand Warrior (O.G.W.).

During the 2007 general election, Norah tried her hand at elective politics, under the banner of Narc-Kenya. Despite her desire to help the most vulnerable people in her home constituency of Bunyore, her run for Member of Parliament was unsuccessful. 

Norah then founded and was the Executive Director of the African Biotechnology Stakeholder's Forum (ABSF), a biotechnology advocacy group that pushed for biotech solutions to agricultural problems in developing countries. 

One of Norah’s favourite places in the world was her greenhouse. She loved gardening. She would talk to her plants and play music for them. Her love affair with flowers started with African violets. Flower lovers who came to buy her blooms introduced her to orchids and the Orchid Society, where for many years she was the only African member. Her sister, Enid, would help her present her flowers for competitions, many of which she won. She would go to the British High Commission on Sundays with Amimo for high tea to see orchids.

Norah also loved photography. To go anywhere with Norah was to be subjected to her camera in your face. Her home in Lavington is filled with pictures and albums documenting the ordinary and extraordinary moments in the lives of the people she loved. 

Anyone who knew Norah knows that she was the first on the dancefloor and the last to leave. Any floor was a dance floor to Norah, and any occasion, any beat, was a reason to dance!

Norah was diagnosed with a cancerous tumour in her mouth in May 2020. This accelerated the progression of the dementia that she was already suffering and compromised her generally robust physical health. On Thursday, March 11, 2021, Norah took her last peaceful breath, at home, surrounded by her family.

Recent stories
Shared by Uduak Amimo on April 26, 2021
Mum was a bright star for us. Where Dad was the rock, Mum was the light – shining into every aspect of our lives. School, boyfriends, opinions on everything. “The Universe is unfolding as it should.” She was the waves on the shore in Mombasa, the omelettes in the village at Easter, the candles on the cake for every birthday for each one, come what may. She got on planes just to come and say hi. She loved flowers into glittering paradises, jungles of beauty. She reached into each one and turned everything into happiness. Unhappiness is not an option. It is a worthless state of being. The Universe is unfolding as it is. Unfold. Unfurl your wings and do what you came to do. Go in the direction you are pointed, full steam, without fear. Fly. Give. Give your love and attention and affection and hopes and dreams. Give to others. Be happy. Be useful. Do your best. The Universe is unfolding as it should. Mum was Star light – and we didn’t know then that mum was an angel. Love. Love everybody.

A word of thanks and a fond farewell to Norah from myself Pamela, sister to Norah. Also a word of condolence from my husband Thomas and our children Alessandra and Clara. 

It has been a life-long journey with memories to cherish about the times that I shared as part of Norah's life. She was a sister as well as another type of Mum, and a friend. She was a mentor who was always willing to make suggestions without imposing anything but good. She was an academic might as a professor in one of the most difficult fields of science. Yet, she was down to earth in her appreciation of life, nature, and progress. 

She had her own family but she welcomed many others especially since many were attracted to her talent for resolving issues. I would say that Norah lived a complete and fulfilling life. 

I do not overlook the difficulties and challenges that Norah faced, particularly later in her life including the sicknesses that caused her trauma. However, the inner shining of the true Norah prevailed and has left as a living, believing memory. She is at rest and at peace. She is honoured and respected and I truly thank you all for being her friend. 

Dear Norah,
I little knew that morning that God was going to call you home.
In life, I loved you dearly.
In death I do the same.
It broke my heart to lose you.
The day God called you home, you left me with precious memories.
For me, you gave your best.
Now time has come for you to rest.
So rest in peace dear one.
And thank you for all you have done for us.
I will always keep your love in my heart.
I will miss you always.
I pray that God has given you the crown you have truly won.


Mama, Kukhu, Senje Norah! 
Mine is to celebrate her life and express my gratitude, love, respect and admiration.

Norah had very many beautiful qualities to talk about: the kindness of her heart, the depth of her love- she was just a remarkable woman.

As Mulamwa was beautiful, she saw only beauty in others. Our parents were Mama and Papa,  our children: Darling and Sweetheart. Her words were never mean or malicious because she was true  to herself.

We are proud to look at ourselves and find a little piece of Norah in us. She has given out very much love.

Allow me to finish here:

If you give a little more than you take

And if you try to fix more than you break;

If you are the kind who takes time to help a stranger in the rain- there's a place for people like you.

If you stand up for those down on their knees; and lend a voice to those who cannot speak; if you shine a little light and give sight to the ones who've lost their way-  there's a place for people like you.

I've heard up there the streets are made of gold, and when you get there there's a hand to hold.

I believe when your days down here are through, there's a place up there for people like you.

(Adapted from People Like You by Gramps Morgan)

Norah was a phenomenal woman. Rest in peace, Mulamwa. 

Often times, a sister-in-law becomes part of family and therefore, when she passes on, it hits us hard. Since she joined us, Norah cultivated a very personal relationship with each and every one of us and had indeed become a very cherished and important member of the Olembo family. As you all know it is the WORD and faith in God that has made the Olembo family what it is today. Our own father Rev. Habil Ariba Olembo and our mother Rev. Josephine Maina Olembo were firmly rooted in the church. Everything they did was centered on biblical doctrines and they strove tirelessly to ensure that these were inculcated in their children, and their children’s children. 

Norah became part of our family and immediately embraced our church - the Church of God, although she herself had come from the Quaker background. There was no conflict or contradiction in this because what she brought with her only made the light shine even brighter in the family of God. The Church of God and the Friends (Quakers) blended together beautifully and shone internationally.

Not long after her marriage to my brother, Reuben, Norah made her first visit to Kisa, where I was married. The visit was extremely memorable and to this day I still recall the gifts that she brought. In those days, we did not have the modern cooking amenities we enjoy today so I was particularly gratified to note that Norah, had brought me a shiny paraffin cooker with all the accessories that went it. This gift went a long way in making my work in the kitchen much, much easier and as you can imagine this kind gesture marked the beginning of a very long and beautiful relationship.  I was instantly and totally taken in by Norah. I was convinced that she sincerely cared and from that moment, became not just a sister-in-law but simply, a wonderful sister to me. There are so many other gestures of her love and kindness that I could talk about but what touched me so much about Norah was the relationship she had with my children. She literally helped me raise my children. The examples of her devotion to my children are countless but there are a number that, to me stand out.

For example, since their primary school days, Norah ensured that my sons, Patrick and Jerry travelled with them to the countryside to spend the Christmas holidays with her family. From the stories they had to tell, it was obvious that for Patrick and Jerry, these trips were the highlight of their year. From her well- kept appearance and sophisticated mannerisms to her tasty cuisine, the stories were endless! And yet she was also very down to earth and had time to engage in friendly banter and even participate in some of the games they played. The evening card games were particularly loved. I was told by the boys that they had on one occasion accompanied Nora and my brother Reuben to Sunset Hotel in Kisumu to ring in the New Year and how Norah’s dancing skills had thoroughly impressed them! Then there were the trips all over western province that Norah accompanied them on. The long road trips and singing of songs in the car as they traversed the country side. Norah would also ensure that a few days were spent in Ikolomani and the boys became well acquainted with many of their relatives from there. 

She opened up her home and made my children feel welcome whenever they visited.  Whenever Jerry and Lumumba (RIP) went for sporting activities either at Saint Mary's or Lenana, they would ensure they found their way to Lavington to get dropped off at school.  Aunty Nora would allow them pass by a fast food establishment to buy some food and as they headed back to school, would hand each one of them a crisp  20/= note or two which in the 70’s and early 80’s would last a school boy quite a long time. 

Although the boys interacted a lot more with Aunty Norah, the girls too were not left behind. They describe how, when they were growing up, they used to walk from KSTC, where we lived all the way to Lavington to visit their cousins. On those visits, they would of course also bond with Auntie Norah who, they say always referred to them as her children and not Nieces or Nephews.

The girls described her as a beautiful lady, organized and authentic and happy when they visited and always making sure they felt at home. She would even suggest that they spend the night and go home the next day when they had been sent by mum. They were always so impressed by her love for traditional vegetables, noting that they never ate sukuma or cabbage in Lavington and were instead always served likhubi, mrenda, and so on.  They found it so interesting the way she referred to mum as “her husband” each time they met.  To them Auntie Norah had this admirable commanding presence - Beauty, Brains & Class. There was never a dull moment when Auntie was around. She had an infectious laugh and loved to dance. Middy always talks about aunty Norah’s elegant esikuti moves which to her, remain unrivalled to date.

To my Dearest Sister Norah and Aunt to my children, words are extremely difficult to find right now. Death has robbed us of a beautiful soul, a thoughtful sister and Aunty who was always there when we needed her. A Sister and Aunty who always made sure we knew that we came from a family that stood with us no matter what. An Aunty who taught her nieces that they could be anything they dreamed they could be!  You shattered glass ceilings so that they could see the horizon and dream bigger. You raised them all up on your shoulders by affording them opportunities that they would not ordinarily have had access to without you. 

You ALWAYS took time out of your extremely busy and tight schedule to be there for us. When Patricia was moving away from home, you assured her that her place in the family was solid and that you would always be there to catch her fall...which you did. You were there when they christened her son came and blessed him and danced the day away with us. YOU were there! You were ALWAYS there. This is why it is with a heavy heart that we say goodbye to you. Each one of us that you touched will remain your legacy...and we will be sure that it is passed down to the generations to come. 

All this time we have owed heaven an unpayable debt for all those beautiful and wonderful years we were given with you. It is with love that we release you into Heaven’s arms. You have run your race and you have run it with honor, accomplishment, pride, and humility. Take your rest Our tender Shield maiden, Our Sister our Aunty. Our tears roll effortlessly down our cheeks for you, but our hearts are full in knowing that you lived a full life and your transition was peaceful.  Within that space and comfort, we humbly accept God’s will and release you back to Him. Soar with the Angels to heaven’s gates and Rest In Perfect Peace in the Lord’s arms until we meet again. 

Forever you will stay in our hearts. 

My sister-in-law, Professor Norah, was a very special member of the Olembo family. Norah was not only a caring wife, and a loving mother to her children but she always opened her heart and home to the wider family.

Norah’s home was the place where we were always welcome to plan family events. She was never too busy for us, but received us with her usual charm and hospitality. She even extricated herself from writing her Ph. D. thesis (which required serious concentration) when I once  paid a visit, because she felt that it was important for her to welcome me to her home. 

Norah kindly received several other children into her fold, for example, Habil, Uduak and Gloria. Her generous spirit and kind acts also meant that whenever social or financial support was needed she was ready with her time, comforting words and resources. My own children and the children of the extended family can testify to the kindness and familial support of Auntie Norah.

Everyone in the family will miss her charming demeanour and loving heart, her hearty laughter and constant smile. We pray that God grant her eternal peace as she joins our brother Rueben in heaven. We are sure that her spirit will remain amongst us for a long time.

I am deeply grieved by the loss of my cousin and dear friend, Prof. Norah Olembo.

I have known her closely since I was a toddler. She grew up in a Christian home and held her faith to the end. 

Norah spent her holidays as a young beautiful girl baby- sitting us, something my siblings and I treasured. She nurtured us, mentored us all along. Our families remained very close up to her demise. She played a major role in my wedding and continued to mentor me in the early days of my marriage. 

We lived together in Lavington as neighbours for 36 years. Our children literally lived in each other’s houses. 

Prof. was a friend, mentor and confidant. I shall dearly miss her.

To us, the Amukune family, Aunt Norah was another name for Mama. For decades, we do not remember any function in which she did not play a key role. She was there for us whenever we needed her. She cried with us, laughed with us, danced with us and literally shared her life with us until her health began to fail. As someone rightfully said, Aunt Norah was an icon of excellence in every aspect of the word. She wished the best for all, strove to offer the same and dissipated positive energy even in hopeless situations; and never complained.

Aunt Norah’s demise came to us as a bitter shock as we remembered the many times that she sacrificed her precious time and resources to lighten our burdens. Her death left many questions in our hearts, but we chose to adhere to the words of Jesus in Acts 1:8 that “it is not for us to know the times and seasons that the Father has set by His authority…” Nothing takes God by surprise and He never makes a mistake. Paul said that “For me to live is Christ and to die is gain…” (Philippians 1:21).   Bitter as it is to us, it is a sweet relief for aunt Norah to be away from the pain, the frustration, disappointments and sorrows of this life. To rest in the everlasting arms of her maker, whom she served diligently through the many lives that she touched.

To the Olembo family, may the God of all comfort meet you at every point of your need. May you, by His grace emulate the legacy that Aunt Norah left as a sign of your love for her. Our prayers are with you as you look back to the good times that you shared with your mother.

We can all remember the warmth of her smile. Our Aunt Norah had a uniquely warming smile that genuinely brought out feelings of love and acceptance in anyone who was privileged to be in her company. In many ways, our lives become the summation of our experiences, and our legacies are defined by the impact we have on the lives of others. Very few people who have walked this earth will touch and bless as many lives as our aunt Norah did. If the impact of a lasting  legacy can be measured by the number of lives a person touches, then it is very clear to see that our Aunt Norah will be remembered forever. Her memory will find a lasting home in the minds and the hearts of all the people whose lives have been blessed by hers.  Many of us who cherished our beloved Aunt Norah,  are not able to be physically present to celebrate her life. Even so, she still brings us together in mind and in spirit to celebrate her life. Her memory stands as a powerful symbol of the inalienable bonds we share as a family. Our aunt Norah reminds us that love transcends the boundaries created by distance and time, and for this reason she will forever continue to live  in our hearts and our souls.

My dearest auntie Norah, I feel an emptiness deep inside like a part of my world has been pulled out. You always gave me a listening ear during my low moments and encouraged me to move onward when I was giving up. Just hearing you say, "you have done well," kept me going.

I will miss our Sunday lunches of ingokho and likhubi. I will miss your warm hugs and your lovely smile. You were a great grandmother to my daughter Nicole who always loved coming for our Sunday visits. I am very sure the good Angels will receive you well. I will truly miss you but in my heart you always remain. 

Rest, auntie/mum, rest till we meet again. 

Norah and I have been great friends since 1955, that is 66 years. We met at Kaimosi Girls School(GBS) from Standard 5 to 8. At Kaimosi we talked and played together like children would normally do. She was a very active member of the school and took part in almost all school activities: school choir soloist, choir conductor, prefect and Girl Guide patrol leader. She was an entertainer for the school and the most agile dancer I ever knew, as well as a very efficient Head Girl. To me she was the best role model I had,  especially in those early years.

We went to different secondary schools but re-joined at the University of Nairobi, which was then called East African University. We were very few girls in the university. In fact in the facility, we were only three African girls - Norah, Alice Barasa and I. We discussed everything from class to friends. We seemed to like and dislike similar things. We were like identical twin sisters.

When Norah met Reuben, I was the one of the first people she confided in. At first, she was not quite sure that this was the right candidate. Fortunately, Reuben invited Norah out and she insisted that I accompany them and that I would help her make up her mind. By then, Reuben was a lecturer at the Makerere College. She insisted on my giving her my candid opinion about Reuben whom I thought passed the test.

Organisation of the wedding then took place and she invited me to be her maid of honour. I will forever cherish that role. By that time, I had joined Makerere for my post graduate work in education. Reuben and I drove all the way from Kampala to Nairobi in his Peugeot 404 for the wedding. 

My friend decided to use the services of a professional make up artist on the morning of the wedding.  When she came to the house and looked at herself in the mirror she screamed and washed off everything!! All those who knew Norah know that she was an extremely beautiful girl with a wonderful smile. God took a lot of time to create Nora Khadzini and she needed no makeup! 

I got married two years later. Before making up my mind to marry Mr Mutsune, I asked him to drive all the way from Kampala where he was working to Nairobi to be vetted by Norah. To me, Norah's recommendation was very crucial. Our wedding came just after Norah had given birth to her first children- twins- but she and Reuben drove all the way to Kakamega to ensure that our nuptials succeeded. I don't remember Norah sitting down for even one minute, she busied herself making sure that the kitchen side and the reception were running well. She was a very reliable friend, my role model, confidante and consultant. She taught me how to think outside of the box. 

May her soul rest in peace.

I have fond memories of Prof. Norah Olembo as my big sister and mother at Butere Girls High school. Her warm and vibrant demeanour Enabled me to quickly settle into the school routine. 

At school, Norah was an all- rounder, intelligent, active in sports and a very good singer. She later became the school head girl. One thing that stood out for me was her beautiful voice. In the absence of the piano for the School, Norah led songs and hymns during school gatherings.

In her later years we connected closely when the Lavington Church Choir visited her home to sing with her in fellowship. It's an activity that took about half an hour. But little did we know the impact it had made upon her until the following Sunday. A beaming Norah came to church to testify, how the event ministered greatly to her.

Since then she never failed to come to church until she was indisposed. She had a special spot where she sat and enjoyed every moment as she danced to the worship songs. On one such occasion she came with members of her family. 

My prayer is that God will comfort and strengthen the family during this most difficult moment of their lives.

Rest, Professor Norah Olembo, in eternal peace.

Norah Khadzini and I met on the opening day for newcomers for Standard 5 in 1953 at Kaimosi Girls Boarding School, Kaimosi GBS but generally referred to as GIBIES.  We, from the villages, were there before lunch and sat under a tree. For lunch we ate what I got to know later in life as an “air burger”!   That afternoon, two girls who lived in Kaimosi, joined us, brought by their fathers in cars! These were Mabel Kibisu and Norah.  

Imagine these two girls came wearing shoes when coming to Standard 5 and talked to their parents and conversed with each other in English!  Norah said, “Thank you, Dad. I will keep in touch,” as she waved her father off. These two were the only ones to escape wearing the placard with the words LEARN TO SPEAK ENGLISH BY SPEAKING when our mother tongue languages slipped in!

Surprisingly, Norah and Mabel were friendly with the rest of us even though we tried to avoid them to start with.  We were punished together for making noise in class and together we collected firewood in the forest for punishment so our food could be cooked.  We struggled together preparing for Kenya African Primary Examination (KAPE) in 1956 and looked forward to joining THE Alliance Girls High School in January 1957.

But our invitation letters sent us to a non-existing high school in Butere!  We were an angry lot that arrived at what became Butere Girls High School. The Headmistress congratulated us, telling us that because many of us had excelled, this made a second high school for Protestant girls in Kenya necessary. There were 9 Luo and 9 Luhya girls.  The European headmistress had been warned to watch out for tribe-based fights. She once rushed into the dormitory when she heard screaming. She found us collapsed on the floor, laughing our hearts out as we made mistakes in learning each other’s language.  She turned away with a smile.  Our disappointments ended and we focused on studies.

Norah handled disappointments so well and this took her far! She went to the UK for her A-levels. She graduated with a BSc followed by Master’s and PhD qualifications. She taught at the University of Nairobi and became the first African professor of Biochemistry! Further, she held many key national positions. She led the nation on recognizing the importance of having patents when foreigners took a patent for Kenya’s kiondo! She led Kenya on being watchful of genetically modified organisms to ensure they were not harmful to our health or well-being etc!

Norah, my dear sister, cancer stole your body but your undying spirit and brilliant work lives on!  We salute you in death as we did in life. May your soul rest in eternal peace till we meet. 

It is an honour to write this tribute to a dear and departed sister. 

Norah was larger than life. I can only describe her in superlatives. Norah was very beautiful; she was beautiful inside and out. She was meticulous in everything she did. She had style and taste; she was always well put together.

I first met Norah at Butere Girls High school in 1958. When we joined form one, some of the other girls in our class were Justice Effie Owuor, the late Jemimah Kaisha and Professor Floridah Karani to mention a few of our classmates. She was an outstanding student and leader, and was chosen to be the head girl. A position she held with distinction. Very often she stood in for teachers. She was pleasant and was respected. Norah did everything well. Norah was versatile, she was focused, determined and very disciplined.

Norah wanted to be a medical doctor. But at that time in Butere we did not have science subjects. In order for her to pursue her dream, she got a scholarship to do her A-level in York in the United Kingdom. We missed Norah when she left.

She was our beacon. Whatever Norah did she did well.

I remember when she acted in a play as the Queen of England. She was pushed in a makeshift carriage. It is the way she acted like the queen that completely blew us away. She put on the royal smile and waved accordingly like the Queen of England.

We were mesmerized by her acting talent until to date we still carry that image in our minds, of Norah the Queen of England.

Professor Norah Khadzini Olembo impacted many lives as a scientist through her research and contributions in science. In the community she supported many people, she gave scholarships to needy students, including some at Makini School.

She would call me often and ask me to include some of the needy children she supported in the Makini mentoring programme. Whenever we talked it was always about how we could lift others up.

When I was starting Kenya Women Finance Trust, she gave me moral support and ideas. She sometimes accompanied me to markets and women gatherings to talk about women’s financial inclusion. There are many things I could say about Norah but let me stop there for now. I thank God she has left behind brilliant children and a very big legacy.

My deepest condolences to the family as we continue to pray for God to give them strength during this trying time. May God bless her children and family.

May her soul rest in eternal peace.

Thank you.

Mum, what could I possibly say that has not been said about you by others? You and I had a special bond, a special language no one else could figure out. You always made me feel special as you did with most of the people you met throughout your life. I can still hear you say, "this one is my favourite one, my best one.” I am sure you said that to each of us at some time or another. 

I will miss seeing your face gleam in the sunlight like a flower turning to the sun, how you would shake a leg at any hint of music and how you would jump into a conversation with questions even though no one thought you were listening. I will miss you, my precious, my favourite, my best one. Say hi to your friend when you see her. 

Rest in peace until we meet again.