In Summary
  • Undaunted by the racial incidents, undeterred by horrifying forecast by the estate agent and refusing to be discouraged by lack of surgical work, Marie and I decided to plod on.
  • I set three aims for myself — to start on a clean slate throwing all past politics to the wind; work tirelessly to make the surgical unit a centre of excellence, and to improve the standard of service beyond what was available in other hospitals.

Once I started working in the hospital, I discovered that the top brass was all white, the browns filled the middle cadre and the blacks were in menial and subordinate positions.

This was not necessarily racial but was borne out of necessity. The country had been developing in racial compartments at a different pace and the hospital had to establish a hierarchy from what was available in each category.

As in Apartheid regime, the races were set not only apart but also unequal. But all this was going to change soon because 'uhuru' (freedom) was round the corner as was evident by gradual release of the famous “Kapenguria Six”.

NGEI RELEASED

We witnessed the celebration in Machakos which followed the release of Paul Ngei, the fiery Akamba leader, where the guest of honour was the young, charismatic Tom Mboya, who proved to be the centre of attraction.

We were taken there by Mr Janmohamed, a budding local Asian politician.

At the rally we met Paul Ngei, who wore a cap with “1951-1961” inscribed on it.

Our host, Janmohamed, explained to Marie and me that it signified the years of his detention.

Tom wore an elegant western suit but for theatrical effect, he emerged wearing a robe, reminding me of Mark Antony deriding Brutus as the body of slain Caesar lay at his feet.

A big crowd had gathered to listen to this legendary figure and sat in the open air under the brilliant sun of a clear African sky.

As usual, slogans of "uhuru na Kanu", "uhuru pamoja" and "uhuru sasa" rang through the fields and forests.

HISTORICAL INCIDENTS

There were prolonged cheers by men and loud ululations by women, all dressed in brilliantly coloured tribal clothes as Mboya made an appearance on the podium to deliver his speech.

He stood like a monarch who was surveying his subjects. In the course of his motivational speech, he pointed at a rotten fruit precariously hanging from a tree, eroded by woodworm.

“Colonialism is like that fruit, rotten through and through.” He said and took a tactical pause until his audience went agog with suspense when he added:

“Like that rotten fruit, it must fall and be buried in the good African soil for good.” His listeners were stirred into frenzy.

In my first year in Kenya, the hospital was visited by the Aga Khan in May, who graciously congratulated me for improving the general atmosphere in the hospital and raising the morale of the staff, both verbally at a board meeting and in a letter he sent me soon after his visit.

Finally, the historic visit by Jomo Kenyatta on October 5, 1961 after his release from detention, alluded in detail earlier on.

The other historical incident, recorded in low key by the media at the time was the admission of Mama to the maternity ward and the birth of Uhuru, who followed his illustrious father to State House, making Mama the wife of Kenya’s first President and the mother of the Fourth!

THREE OBJECTIVES

Undaunted by the racial incidents, undeterred by horrifying forecast by the estate agent and refusing to be discouraged by lack of surgical work, Marie and I decided to plod on, regardless.

The only factor that I could influence was the low-bed occupancy.

In that respect, I set three aims for myself — to start on a clean slate throwing all past politics to the wind; work tirelessly to make the surgical unit a centre of excellence, and to improve the standard of service beyond what was available in other hospitals.

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