Sarah Sarai – First African woman allowed to perform nursing duties at The Aga Khan Hospital


Long before modern non-governmental organisations “invented” and popularised the terms transparency, accountability and affirmative action and gender activism, one woman was already working towards achieving them – in pre-independence days.


In the late ’30s and early ’40s, Sarai worked in hospitals in far-flung corners of East Africa including Msambweni, deep in the South Coast; the Native Civil Hospital Makadara, (now Coast General Hospital), Mombasa; Kilifi (where she learnt perfect Kiswahili); and Mulago in Uganda (where she learnt Luganda).

She encouraged women to free themselves from traditional practices that affected their reproductive health and self-esteem. In Nairobi, she was the first African woman allowed to perform nursing duties at His Highness The Aga Khan Hospital (then a clinic) and the European Base Hospital (currently State House Road Girls School).

Author: ismailimail

Independent, civil society media featuring Ismaili Muslim community, inter and intra faith endeavors, achievements and humanitarian works.

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