Prof. Magoha’s near-death-experience 60 years ago and how a transfer saved his life
- As a pupil at Jina Primary School in Gem, Siaya County, he suffered from severe bronchial asthma.
- Prof. George Magoha is survived by widow Dr Odudu Barbara and son Michael Achianja.
Prof. George Magoha, the former Education Cabinet Secretary who died on Tuesday at 71 had a near-death experience during his early years in life.
In his autobiography Tower of Transformational Leadership, published in 2017, Prof. Magoha narrates how a transfer from Jina Primary School in rural Gem, Siaya County to the “relatively modern and cosmopolitan” Dr. David Livingstone Primary in Jerusalem, saved his life.
The year was 1964, when Kenya became a republic.
“The main reason for my transfer which was at my parents’ request and insistence was that I suffered from severe bronchial asthma and therefore needed better and constant medical care and regular follow ups,” he wrote.
“The assumption was that I would have quick and continued access to better medical facilities and services from qualified medical doctors who were presumably readily available in Nairobi, compared to Gem at that time. This actually turned out to be the case as I ended up being treated not just by a medical doctor but a chest specialist.”
Prof. Magoha died at the Nairobi hospital after a heart attack. He had collapsed four times at his home before his son Dr Michael Augustus and a family friend Prof. Walter Mwanda unsuccessfully tried to revive him.
Prof. Magoha added in his book, which was published by Kenway Publications: “When I reflect on this period in my life, I cannot but imagine what would have happened to me if I had not relocated to Nairobi for treatment and subsequent education. May be the asthma could not have been properly controlled, leading to more severe medical complications or even death. With poor health, maybe I would also not have focused on my education in a good school like Dr David Livingstone.”
Prof. Magoha went on to join Starehe Boys Centre and later universities in Nigeria, United Kingdom and Ireland.
He served as the Vice Chancellor of University of Nairobi (2005-2015), Chairman of the Kenya National Examination Council (2016-2019) and Education CS (2019-2022), among many other posts.
Several leaders including President William Ruto, former President Uhuru Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Odinga have sent messages of condolence to family and friends of the late Prof. Magoha.
Prof. Magoha is survived by widow Dr Odudu Barbara and son Michael Achianja.
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