Meet President Jomo Kenyatta's private nurse

Meet Kenyatta's private  nurse
             Eunice Muringo was Kenya's longest-serving Chief Nursing Officer .

She was President Mzee Jomo Kenyatta’s first nurse, our longest serving Chief Nursing Officer, Kenya’s ‘Florence Nightingale.’

Eunice Muringo Githae’s career path was because, “I was attracted to the idea of helping the sick and helpless,” she told Conversations with High Achievers in 2011. Interest heightened at Loreto Convent High School Limuru where a teacher had a niece who was a nurse. After clearing from Loreto in 1958, the daughter of chief Robert Githae and sister to Prof Micere Githae Mugo and former Finance minister Robinson Njeru Githae, was enrolled by her father in a Southampton nursing college, England. 

Young Muringo interned at the Southampton General Hospital in 1959. By the time Kenya gained her independence in 1963, Muringo had a diploma, and a State Certified midwife from the Memorial Maternity in Edinburg, Scotland.

King George VI Hospital, later Kenyatta National Hospital, was her first posting, before leaving for New Zealand’s Victoria University School of Nursing in 1966.

Charles Njonjo was ‘Jerry’s best man

While working as the President’s nurse, the Permanent Secretary for Defense in the Kenyatta administration was Jeremiah Gitau Kiereini, later head of the Civil Service. The two married in November 1971 at their Karen residence off Archer Gardens. It was brief. Only a few friends and family attended. Nairobi PC John Mburu (who banned daytime discos at the time) conducted the civil union in which Grace Koinange was matron-of-honour, Attorney General Charles Njonjo was ‘Jerry’s best man.

She became officially Eunice Muringo Kiereini who was instrumental in the formation of the National Nurses Association of Kenya in 1967, two years before she was appointed Chief Nursing Officer.  

She became the first black African woman  President of the International Council of Nurses (ICN), taking over from Australia’s Olive Anstey in Los Angeles, USA that July of 1981. It was during her tenure that ICN acquired its headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland!

The chair of Kenya’s Flying Doctors Service, also the first African woman on the Global Commission for Aids at the World Health Organisation. After 17 years as Chief Nursing Officer, Eunice Muringo Kiereini retired in 1985 – the year she received an honorary degree from the University of Tel Aviv, Israel – the first for a Kenyan woman.


 


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