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A Shout From The Attic: Nancy Wairumi Kumani

"I saw her and was transfixed. She was a dazzlingly beautiful African girl...''

Ronnie Bray continues his autobiography.

After I left the café and lived with Christine at Daw Royds, Almondbury, I decided to return to Nursing and write to the General Nursing Council of England and Wales to see if they would sanction my return to training for Registered Mental Nurse. They said that if I could find a training hospital to take me, they were agreed to my continuation of training.

St Audrey’s Hospital in Woodbridge, Suffolk agreed to take me. The principal tutor, Anthony Brown, was kindness himself, remembering me from my former time as a student there.

Nancy Kumani was a student nurse at Saint Audrey’s, working in one of the upstairs wards. One day when I was working on a ground level ward, I had to go to the ward on the third floor, which was above hers on the second floor. The staircase was a wide square stone one that ran up at the side of the building. As I passed Nancy’s ward, I saw her for the first time through the open doorway. She was carrying a tray of instruments for a doctor who was crossing the floor to go to a patient’s bedside.

I saw her and was transfixed. She was a dazzlingly beautiful African girl. I stood looking at her, and she stood looking at me, visibly blushing. We neither of us moved until an impatient voice called “Nurse!” from behind a bed screen. I went on my way to the ward above, and when I came down, the door to the ward was closed.

The next time I saw her was when she was in the common room of the Nurses Home. We sat together and talked. She told me that her name was Nancy Wairumi Kumani, known as Nancy, that she was a member of the Kikuyu people of Central Kenya, and that she liked me. We became good friends.

She taught me about her Kikuyu people, also known as the Gikuyu, that number more than 3 million in their heartland around Mt. Kenya. The original Kikuyu are thought to have migrated to the area from the east and north-east over a period of a couple of hundred years from the 16th century. The Kikuyu are Bantu and actually came into Kenya during the Bantu migration.


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