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An Emotion-charged Afternoon: Inside Prof. Magoha’s Last Moments

LEFT: The late Education CS Prof George Magoha RIGHT: Magoha's wife Odudu Babra Magoha is seen at Lee Funeral Home

LEFT: The late Education CS Prof George Magoha RIGHT: Magoha’s wife Odudu Babra Magoha is seen at Lee Funeral Home

On Tuesday evening, former Education Cabinet Secretary Professor George Magoha was confirmed dead in Nairobi Hospital.

The news of his death came as a shock to his family and friends, as they were already mourning the loss of his brother, Professor Richard Alex Nyabera Magoha, who had passed away in the US on December 6, 2022 and was due to be buried in their rural home in Yala on January 28.

As Professor George Magoha lies in the morgue, memories of his accomplished career flood the minds of those who knew him.

Dr Walter Mwanda, a close friend of Professor Magoha, was one of the last people to see him alive and shared his account of a suspenseful afternoon.

It was a typical Tuesday afternoon when he received a call from Professor Magoha’s wife, Dr Barbra Odudu Magoha, while he was on duty at the Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH).

“At about 3p.m she called me and told me that she needed me urgently,” Dr Mwanda recounted, “I could hear the panic in her voice and knew that something was gravely wrong.”

Dr Mwanda, without delay, arranged for a colleague to take over his duties and departed the hospital.

As he made his way to Professor Magoha’s home, he received a second call from Dr Barbra.

“She asked me whether I had a blood pressure machine. So I rushed back to my clinic and got one,” he stated.

Dr Mwanda knew that time was of the essence, so he quickly made his way back to the car and headed to Professor Magoha’s residence.

Upon arrival, Dr Mwanda was met by Professor Magoha’s son, Dr Michael Magoha, who led him to where his father was.

“I found him seated and proceeded to take his blood pressure. As I was recording, he slipped off from his sitting position, so we carried him to the son’s car,” Dr Mwanda narrated.

They followed the vehicle to the Nairobi Hospital.

Upon arrival at the emergency room, Professor Magoha collapsed again.

“He suffered a collapse and was resuscitated back by his son, a medical doctor. However, a few meters to the casualty section, he collapsed again” Dr Mwanda recounted.

The medical staff attempted resuscitation, which took a bit of time, but they were not able to bring him back

He passed away at the Nairobi Hospital, surrounded by his loved ones.

Dr Mwanda also shockingly revealed that before his passing, Professor Magoha had a premonition that his time had come.

“He had a feeling and shared with his wife that his time had come and he was content with everything that was done,” Dr Mwanda stated.

He went on to narrate that Professor Magoha then requested to see his wife, son, and daughter-in-law before he passed away.

“In that order, he asked his wife to call his son and daughter-in-law and then me,” Dr Mwanda recounted.

Professor Magoha had a storied career in education, having served as Cabinet Secretary for Education in former President Uhuru Kenyatta’s government.

Prior to this appointment, he had chaired the Kenya National Examinations Council (KNEC) from 2016 to 2019, and served as Vice-Chancellor of the University of Nairobi from 2005 to 2015.

Upon leaving the government, Magoha was named a professor of surgery at Maseno University School of Medicine.

President William Ruto remembered Professor Magoha as a “towering giant of our time, a great man who stood tall in the academy, where he excelled in learning, teaching and research, as well as in administration.”

He hailed him for leading “robust turnaround interventions at the University of Nairobi and the Kenya National Examinations Council.”

ODM Leader Raila Odinga has eulogized the former cabinet secretary as a transformational leader, illustrious scholar, dedicated public servant, and distinguished medical doctor who left an indelible mark on our country’s education system.

“I am deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Prof. George Magoha, a transformational leader, illustrious scholar, dedicated public servant, and distinguished medical doctor who left an indelible mark on our country’s education system,” Raila’s tweet read.

Magoha was married to his wife, Dr Barbra Magoha, a Nigerian national. Together they had a son, Michael Magoha.


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