Kenyan Professor Awarded Queen's Highest Honour

  • Kenyan-born Professor Magdalene Anyango Namakhiya Odundo featured among the 2020 New Year's Honour List that is published to recognise some of the outstanding achievements made by people around the United Kingdom by the Queen.

    According to the Metro UK among the selection of people who have been awarded the Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE), which is the highest-ranking order of the British Empire Award are those that have been nominated for a knighthood to become a sir or dame.

    Professor Magdalene featured alongside legends for her services to Arts and Art education, such as musicians Elton John and Olivia Newton-John who is Dame for her services to charity cancer research and entertainment in the Dames Commander of the Order of the British Empire.


    Professor Magdalene Anyango began her journey as a studio potter in 1975 when she visited the Pottery Training Centre in Abuja, and Kenya to study traditional hand-built pottery techniques.

    Her strides saw her teach at the Commonwealth Institute in London from 1979 and at the Royal College of Art before becoming a professor of ceramics in 2001.

    An image of one of the pots made by Professor Magdalene Anyango

    She was the recipient of the African Art Recognition Award by The Detroit Institute of Arts in 2008 and the African Heritage Outstanding Achievement in the Arts award in 2012.

    The professor still featured previously in the honorary list previously as she got appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire OBE, for her services to the Arts in 2008.

    Magdalene who is based in Surrey, is said to create works reminiscent of the human form, often following the curves of the spine, stomach, or hair symbolic of the female body. 

    One of her most famous pieces is a black and ocher vessel with a curved base and elongated neck resembling the form of a pregnant woman. Her work is now a part of permanent collections of nearly 50 international museums

    In total 1,097 people are named on the 2020 New Year Honours list of which 315 received British Empire Medals, 397 a Member of The Order of the British Empire and 229 and Officer of the Order of the British Empire.

    Odundo’s handmade ceramic pieces can be found in historical museums and in contemporary public and private collections in Europe, North America, and Africa.