Mombasa Hospital’s Early Days

Mombasa Hospital’s Early Days

Mombasa Hospital’s Early Days   When the Imperial British East Africa Company began to trade in East Africa in the early 1890s, there was a need for a hospital for Europeans, prone to fall sick so easily in a country with an unfamiliar climate, where malaria was still imperfectly understood. IBEAC appointed Dr WH Macdonald, registered as a medical doctor in Edinburgh in 1889, to be Mombasa’s doctor. Then the Company received a donation to build a church and hospital. The Roman Catholic Holy Ghost Fathers were given the running of it, under the supervision of the Chief Medical Officer, Dr WH Macdonald. In the same year the British Government took over the administration of the East Africa Protectorate, and with it the management of the hospital.   Macdonald now worked for the government and had as his assistants three sisters of the Order of St Joseph de Cluny, from France. They were Mother Auxanne Maugee, from Martinique, who was in charge, Sister Benilda Houston from Donegal in Ireland, and Sister James Hearty from Scotland. This mixed band manned the hospital until 1901, when they handed over to lay sisters arriving from England on 1 November. Mother Auxanne died in France in 1902. A plaque in her memory was placed in the Holy Ghost Cathedral in Mombasa and later moved to the hospital. The other two sisters went to the Seychelles.   Macdonald was not thought highly of as a doctor. The High Commissioner Eliot said, ‘I cannot conscientiously recommend any scheme which does not include the removal of Dr Macdonald from the post of PMO.’ A missionary doctor...
Violet Donkin and Fritz Schindler – Matron of Scott Sanatorium Grieves After Fiancee Dies Following Lion Attack

Violet Donkin and Fritz Schindler – Matron of Scott Sanatorium Grieves After Fiancee Dies Following Lion Attack

For the last two months I have been talking about the founding of the Scott Sanatorium, and the part Violet Donkin played in this. However, a year after the facility opened, she departed for England. Why? A scrutiny of the surviving manuscripts gives us a clue. We learn from The Leader of 24 January 1914 that Violet had recently left ‘upon medical advice.’ Then, in an obscure journal of Brian Havelock Potts held in the Bodleian Library, Oxford, we find that Potts served in the army after the outbreak of the First World War, contracted amoebic dysentery, and was taken to the Scott Sanatorium. There he was nursed by Violet Donkin, who had clearly returned to East Africa. She was, he learnt, to have been married to one Fritz Schindler before he was killed by a lion. If we then look at when Schindler met his unhappy fate, we find it was in January 1914. He was taken, badly gored, to the Scott Sanatorium, where he died. He must therefore have been nursed by his own fiancée. It is no wonder that she felt she must have a break. Who was Fritz Schindler or, as it was frequently written, Schindelar? The British had a tendency to call all German-speaking people ‘Fritz.’ There was a Fritz Schindler in the Nandi district in 1901, involved in a brick-making operation at Entebbe in 1902, and we learn of trader Fritz Schindler in January 1905 buying cattle in Ruanda. This is probably the person who applied for a Resident’s Game Licence in 1909 in Nairobi. We know that he was a tall, thin...
Farewell to Conrad

Farewell to Conrad

In our June-July issue of Old Africa we ran a short piece in our Mwishowe column about Conrad, a small boy born in Kenya in 1956 who died less than two years later. The story reflected the pain, shared by many, who have lost children while living in Africa. The story was by Conrad’s mother Elsie Maciel, and we included a few lines from a poem written by Conrad’s father, Mervyn Maciel. Elsie emailed and asked if we could publish the complete poem. We won’t have space in our next magazine, but we are reproducing the complete poem here in this blog. Farewell to our darling Conrad by Mervyn Maciel October 10th (1956) was a day of joy For to us was born our second boy; Of angelic beauty, but frail physique Yes destined to live in this world so bleak.   For months past birth we ne’er knew That his days with us would be so few Until one day our hearts were torn When his troubles to us a specialist made known.   A congenital heart was what he had The thought of which could drive one mad But Bravely and patiently he struggled through HOpeing that someday he’d be fit anew.   Despite his health he travelled afar By plane and truck and motor car; Oft a spell in hospital he spent Striving hard for life under and oxygen tent.   From the NFD to Kisii with us he came Not knowing that here he’d always remain The weather didn’t suit, but he still ensured That Mum and Dad and Clyde kept cheered.   A sad day...

Only in Africa – Quirky Tales that Happened in Africa

The Lion Roars at Dawn On a camping trip to Maasai Mara I had a new kijana as my camp helper to make the fire in the morning for chai.  We slept in different tents. Early one morning I called to him to go make the fire. I heard the kijana getting up and the tent zipper opening. Then I also heard the unmistakable low grunts of a simba very close to camp. I called out,  careful not to tell the kijana there was a lion or he might have panicked. “Maingi, come back.”        “Why?” Maingi asked. Suddenly the lion roared, shaking the air. Maingi dove into his tent. We stayed in our tents until the lion had gone and the sun had risen. We drank our chailate that day. Dominik Kamonde Kitonyi, Tala Newsreels Fire Imagination During World War II we sometimes saw black and white newsreels with moving pictures of how the war was progressing. We kids enjoyed watching the tanks clank across the screen firing rounds of ammunition. Sometimes the newsreels also showed other news. One time we watched a motorcycle daredevil drive off a ramp and fly over a group of men laid out on the ground like logs.  This fired my imagination. I went and built a ramp of my own. Then I persuaded my brothers, Willard and Howard, to lie down on the ground.  Trusting me, they agreed.  I pushed my bike a long way behind my ramp, and then rode it as fast as I could. The ramp launched me into the air, but not as far as I had hoped and I landed on top of my brothers. I thought...