The passing of Lydia Akumu: A Kenyan Patriotic Diaspora
In the sphere of Kenyan diaspora, there is much to say about being a Kenyan. Usually the act of being a Kenyan means that one was born within the boundaries of Kenya’s territory and is declared Kenyan born citizen by the birth certificate issued by the State. Within this definition, there are millions of Kenyans.
The addition of the word Patriot means that the individual was not only born in Kenya, but gave themselves to the service of the people of Kenya without malice or prejudice. Being a Kenyan diaspora means that the individual migrated to another country and decided to settle there, either temporarily, or permanently.
When I think of Lydia Akumu, I see all those three words together as quantitative. Lydia was one of the sponsors of The Chicago Marathon Dinner. She and I worked hard in the effort to bring Mama Obama from Kenya as the main guest in 2015. Finally it was Marset Obama, the Auntie to President Barack Obama who was able to attend the Chicago Marathon Dinner that year. Though in California, Lydia made sure the process was smooth.
Faith Chepkwony and Don Owino Founded the Chicago Marathon Dinner. Through the years, this unique Chicago experience has been an oasis for Kenyans who participate in the annual Chicago Marathon. The dinner gives the Marathoners a great evening of fellowship every year at the Chicago Hilton in October before they embark on the famous Chicago Marathon.
Through the years, Lydia created a successful business in California. However, what I will remember is her tireless effort to support Kenyan courses in the United States. Her love for Kenya diaspora in the United States is a testament of true patriotism.
Lydia passed away in California last week. At every planning and deliberations for the Marathon, Lydia kept her calm. She never spoke much or seek glory during our meetings. However, she did more than anyone else to make Kenyan Marathon Dinner the success it has become today.
As the Marathon group prepare for this years’ Chicago Marathon Dinner in October, her name will be mentioned and her physical presence will be missed. However, Lydia will be in the memory of all of us at Chicago Marathon Dinner.
To her family: The peace of God
Teddy Njoroge Kamau (Ph.D)
Patron/Chicago Marathon Dinner
Diaspora Messenger Senior Columnist