Sylvia Valentin Bongo Ondimba (born 11 March 1963) is the wife of Ali Bongo Ondimba since 1989. She became the First Lady of Gabon following the inauguration of her husband as President of Gabon on 16 October 2009. She created the Sylvia Bongo Ondimba Foundation entitled “For the family” in January 2011 “to improve the plight of vulnerable and disadvantaged people around the world”.
Born in Paris, Sylvia Valentin was barely two months old when her parents were transferred to Douala for work. She is the daughter of Edouard Valentin, a French businessman who heads the group called Omnium Gabonais d’Assurances et de Réassurances (OGAR, Gabonese Insurance and Reinsurance). Edouard Valentin’s wife, Evelyne Valentin, then became President Bongo Ondimba’s secretary.
Sylvia spent most of her childhood in Cameroon along with her siblings, before the family took up residence in Tunisia.
In 1974, after a long stay by the Valentin Family in Tunisia, Sylvia and her parents decided to move to Gabon, where she received an academic and christian education at the Libreville Immaculate Conception Institution.
In 1988, Sylvia met Ali Bongo Ondimba and married him a year later, in 1989. They have four children: Malika, Noureddin Edouard, Jalil, and Bilal, adopted by the couple in 2002.
On 16 October 2009, as Ali Bongo Ondimba was elected president, Sylvia Bongo Ondimba became Gabon’s First Lady.
Sylvia Bongo Ondimba graduated with an advanced-level degree (DESS) in corporate management in France, and then decided to return to Gabon.
Sylvia Bongo Ondimba was hired and quickly promoted to the post of Deputy Managing Director of the country’s largest real estate firm, Gabon Immobilier, where she was named responsible for the company’s marketing and economic development.
In 1990, she created her own wealth management firm, Alliance S.A., at the age of 25.