In Nairobi she deliberately moved out of a whites-only residential area and went to live in the African area of Pumwani. There she met prominent African visitors such as Tom Mboya and her husband-to-be, Dr Daniel Oludhe-Macgoye. After their marriage in 1960 they moved to the Alupe Leprosy Mission Hospital and this gave her the opportunity to integrate into her husband’s family, learn Dholuo and get to know Luo customs and attitudes; and to raise her sons George, Francis and Lawrence and daughter, Phyllis.
In 1963 Marjorie and Daniel visited the UK, and in 1971-75 Marjorie went to Dar es Salaam to manage the University bookshop. These were the only times she travelled out of Kenya since her arrival here. In 1975 she returned to Nairobi, took up the management of SJ Moore Bookshop on Government Road (now Moi Avenue) and settled down in a ground floor apartment in Ngara next to the people’s market. And there she lived the last 37 years surrounded by street vendors, semi-permanent kiosks and homeless kids.
In the early days she would cycle between Pumwani and Church House, later she would ride in matatus or just walk, meeting acquaintances and making new ones. Marjorie lived amongst the people and was one of them, she empathized with them and abhorred injustice. From them she drew inspiration and gained insights into the lives, cultural traits, thoughts, needs, joys and fears of ordinary Kenyans. And then, with her brilliant intellect and mastery of language, she captured it all in the beautiful stories she wrote, the poems she crafted and the songs she ‘sang’.
This fun story teller who mentored so many aspiring young writers, this ‘Grand matriarch of Kenyan Literature’ has touched our hearts and shown us a way forward. May we continue to learn from her writings and her memory.