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Farewell Taddei, italian historical doctor in Kenya

He also had President Arap Moi as his patient

17-08-2021 by Freddie del Curatolo

More than half a century of Africa and Kenya and a life dedicated to caring for others with special attention, almost more like a psychologist than a "frontline doctor" for Italians.
This was Edmondo Taddei, for many years a reference doctor for the Italian Embassy in Nairobi, who left us at the venerable age of 93.
In an interview that turned into a true novel, the doctor, originally from Cuneo, told me about his life in Africa, full of disturbing and dramatic anecdotes, but also of human implications and hope.
Having arrived in the Congo in 1964 on behalf of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as a surgeon, a few months later he found himself in the middle of a civil war. A few years earlier, during a revolt, 13 Italians had been barbarously murdered in Kindu, not far from where the doctor was on a technical and agricultural mission. From night to morning, he and his compatriots left everything behind and, shortly before the arrival of the rebels, sailed up the Congo River to Leopoldville (present-day Kinshasa) and saved their skins.
Since then, except for a brief interlude, he has always lived in Kenya, working first at Kenyatta Hospital and later at Eldoret District Hospital.
"I used to call it 'Eldorado' - Taddei told me - because compared to what I had experienced in Congo, I felt like I was in Paradise. Of course, even there I came into contact with extreme situations, children who were victims of abuse, infections that had no other consequence than amputation and more.
For years in Eldoret, Taddei was the only professional in a 130-bed facility. He became an obstetrician, and under him, childbirth mortality dropped significantly.
The turning point in his career was in 1971, when the ministry offered him a transfer to Eritrea.
"Kenya had become home and there I met the woman who would become my life partner - the Italian doctor told me - so I resigned and decided to continue as a private in Nairobi, after specializing in tropical diseases.
And so for almost forty years Edmondo Taddei became the health reference for thousands of Italians and Europeans in the capital. But not only that, in the early seventies he was personal physician to the then Vice President of Kenya Daniel Arap Moi.
"When he was appointed President in 1978 - he revealed - I was called to the State House. Moi told me that I had to change my life, to remain his trusted doctor: I would have always been at his side, not only in Nairobi but in every international trip. I thanked him, but politely declined. I had dozens and dozens of compatriots to care for and follow, and not only that".
Since then Edmondo Taddei has been a point of reference for the Italian Embassy and also for other foreign offices in Nairobi. Also for this reason in 2008 he was awarded the honor of Knight of the Star of Italy. To his wife Cynthia the most heartfelt condolences of the portal of Italians in Kenya

 

TAGS: italiani kenyamedico kenyadottore kenyalutto kenyaricordo kenya

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