Yvonne Wamalwa, the widow of former Vice President Kijana Wamalwa, passed on on Thursday with President Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto sending messages of condolences to the family.
The President and Mr Ruto were among leaders who poured in their condolence messages, describing Ms Wamalwa as a diligent woman who served her country with commitment.
Mr Kenyatta mourned her as an ambassador who served with distinction and cared about the interests of Kenya.
Mr Ruto said: “The passing of Yvonne has robbed us a selfless leader who was a role model in her community and in the nation. As Kenya’s Deputy High Commissioner in Australia, she demonstrated high level of discipline in her service to the country and hers was a servant hood leadership.”
He added: “She served her country with passion, commitment and dedication during her stint at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, United Nations and later as Kenya’s diplomat to Australia.”
Foreign Affairs CS Amina Mohamed condoled with the family saying Ms Wamalwa was a dedicated diplomat and a skilled negotiator.
“Yvonne was a consummate diplomat, an expert negotiator, and a well-spoken, passionate patriot. Her bright career, steadily on the rise, has been snubbed short by the cruel hand of fate,” Ms Mohamed said in a statement.
Ms Wamalwa died at Nanyuki Cottage Hospital on Thursday while undergoing treatment. Her body was later transported to Lee Funeral Home in Nairobi.
Her sister Stephanie Muite said Yvonne developed complications and she rushed her to hospital where she died shortly after admission.
“We have been living with Yvonne at my home in Ichuga village since October last year and she has been going to Outspan Hospital in Nyeri Town for treatment. This morning her conditioned worsened and she passed on at Nanyuki Cottage Hospital,” Ms Muite said at Nanyuki police station where she had gone to seek police escort to transport the body by road to Lee Funeral Home.
Ms Wamalwa’s body was received at the mortuary by among others, her brother-in-law Water CS Eugene Wamalwa, his Foreign Affairs counterpart Amina Mohamed, Nairobi County Assembly Speaker Beatrice Elachi and deputy ambassador to Somalia Yvonne Khamati,
Educated at Cardinal Otunga Girls-Kibabii in Bungoma County, the second born girl in a family of four went to Kenya Polytechnic (now Technical University of Kenya) before moving to London where she earned a degree in Hotel Management.
By the time she died, she was more known for dealing with violent extremism than hospitality matters, after she got a postgraduate degree in international security from Murdoch University.
In a previous interview, she told a reporter that changing careers had been something accidental, but she enjoyed the new challenges thrown at her.
“I wanted something more challenging and engaging,” she said in the 2014 interview.
Mr Wamalwa said Yvonne died after months of illness and had been undergoing treatment both locally and abroad.
A detailed burial programme will be announced on Friday. The burial will take place at their home in Kitale.
In his condolences, Nasa leader Musalia Mudavadi said the death of Ms Wamalwa caught him by surprise.
“Her death took me by surprise as it must many Kenyans. Yvonne has lived a near-quiet life away from the limelight. That deliberate choice tells a lot about her sense of endurance and purpose,” said the statement from the ANC party leader.
Yvonne was never known to the public until her grand wedding to Kijana Wamalwa in February 2003. Six months later he died at a London hospital.