Wairimu Nyoike

Kenya’s first registered nurse, Winfred Wairimu Nyoike. Photo credit: Debunk

Wairimu Nyoike is a pioneer of many first in Kenya’s nursing industry. She is the first African (Black) registered nurse in Kenya, and also the first African matron of Kenyatta National Hospital. She also helped numerous nurses excel in their careers and was instrumental in setting up training programmes in the field. Nyoike helped start the nursing course at the Medical Training College and was part of the team that drafted a curriculum for nursing studies for the University of Nairobi. In 1969, she also played a key role in merging the Nursing Association of Kenya and the Midwifery Association to form the Nursing Council of Kenya.

Fortunately, she grew up in a family which valued education and Christian values. Her father had determined early on that his daughters would neither be denied the opportunity to attend school nor would they undergo the brutality of female genital mutilation (FGM). In 1955, Nyoike therefore joined a group of 21 young women to train as nurses. At the end of the gruelling course, she emerged as the only graduate. She became a certified nurse Grade II and this feat by an African woman attracted a lot of publicity. Later that year, she travelled to Britain to pursue a year-long course in midwifery. Nyoike was awarded a government scholarship in 1981 to pursue a Bachelor’s degree in Human Social Psychology from the United States International University (USIU).

She then studied for a master’s in the same discipline. She was one of the founders and a patron of the Schizophrenia Foundation of Kenya. She was passionate about creating awareness on mental health, removing stigma and improving existing mental health facilities.
Nyoike was also involved in numerous other charitable organisations and projects. Also passionate about education, she was a founding and active member of Daystar Company Limited, the sponsor of Daystar University. Nyoike passed away in April 2017 at 80 years old.

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