Sierra Leone has lost a great medical doctor

The Sierra Leone telegraph: 2 June 2013

Dr. Abdul Afyz Moronke Hardy (Photo) – the personal medical doctor of almost all of the pre-1980s former heads of State of Sierra Leone, passed away peacefully in Freetown, last Friday 31 May 2013, aged 89 years.

Dr. Afyz – as he is popularly known to many Sierra Leoneans who attended the Connaught Hospital in the country’s capital in the 1960s and 1970s, provided medical care for the country’s first Prime Minister – Sir Milton Margai until his death in 1964; the first Sierra Leonean born Governor General – Sir Banja Tejan – Sie; and also latterly, the first President of Sierra Leone – Siaka Probyn Stevens.

As Dr. Robert Wellesley Cole, one of Sierra Leone’s brightest and most illustrious doctors, known for his work – ‘Kossoh Town Boy’ recalled in the last book he wrote before he too passed on – ‘An Innocent in Britain’, that Dr. Abdul Afyz Moronke Hardy was one of the first senior medical staff lecturers who served in the country’s first ever Department of Clinical Studies, which he – Dr. Robert Wellesley Cole headed as Director.

“Dr. Margai – now Sir Milton Margai, prime minister of Sierra Leone happened to be in London, and I called on him. We recalled ideals we two had discussed in previous years… I should think about going to Sierra Leone to help establish a teaching hospital and a medical school to train our own doctors.

milton margai“Unfortunately Sir Milton (Photo) died in April 1964, six months before I was due in Freetown”, Dr. Robert Wellesley Cole recalled.

“In the absence of the late prime minister – Dr. Sir Milton Margai, the interest in establishing a medical school and teaching hospital was low. There was no central motivating force. The new prime minister (Albert Margai) was a barrister.

“In the circumstances the Ministry of Health decided to tackle the most pressing problem among the doctors. In the absence of a medical school Sierra Leone doctors were trained abroad. There was an urgent need for in-service training of doctors on their return to Sierra Leone.

“”There was in the Department of Health an adequate pool of specialist, all of whom received their undergraduate and postgraduate training in Britain in the pre-1961 colonial days.

“I was asked if I could handle the situation (that is to establish the Department of Clinical Studies of Sierra Leone) and I readily agreed. I knew most of our young specialists, or at least their backgrounds, and there was no difficulty in organising what speedily developed into the first institution of medical training in the history of Sierra Leone. It was named the Department of Clinical Studies”, Dr. Robert Wellesley Cole said in his book.

Dr. Abdul Afiz Hardy“I mobilised a pool of thirty-one specialists (including Dr. Abdul Afyz Moronke Hardy – Photo). The specialists were consulted and assigned new doctors. The main departments covered were medicine, surgery – including orthopaedics and ophthalmology, midwifery and gynaecology, paediatrics, and pathology.

“Systematic lectures devised by myself and the senior specialists were given to the doctors at a class every morning, before they started their day’s ward duty.

“In addition, the heads of each department gave clinical tutorial talks and demonstrations; while each specialist gave the doctors who were assigned to him all the attention and training possible in his ward.

“I was able to have a single storey building erected in the grounds of the Connaught hospital for the new department” – Dr. Wellesley Cole recalled in his book – ‘An innocent in Britain’.

Dr. Abdul Afyz Moronke Hardy was among the first cohort of senior lecturers that helped Dr. Robert Wellesley Cole achieved his dream of establishing a Department of Clinical Studies at the Connaught hospital.

But Dr. Afyz was no stranger to Wellesley Cole. He was the first medical doctor to hail from the Aku Mohamedan community of Fourah Bay in Freetown.

He qualified as a Member of the Royal College of Physicians (MRCP) and Member of the Royal College of Surgeons (MRCS). He is a Fellow of the West African College of Physicians (FWACP).

Dr. Afyz also served the community as a Justice of the Peace (JP) and a Commissioner for Oaths.

The son of Papa Hardy Savage and Mama Isatu Savage (nee Robinson of Wellington), Dr. Afyz was born at Number One Bungie Street (formerly Number One Wilson Street) in Fourah Bay.

He attended the Sulaimania School in Magazine Cut and then the Government Model School where he passed his Common Entrance Examinations with flying colours.

He then went on to the Prince Of Wales School in Freetown, where he excelled and achieved two ‘double promotions’: Form 1 to Form 3 and then Form 3 to 5, due to his far higher than expected intelligence for children of similar age group.

After finishing school, he taught briefly at the Prince Of Wales School in 1949 and then at the Bo Secondary School, before proceeding to the U.K to study Medicine.

He graduated in Medicine in 1956 at the University of Liverpool, where he attained his membership soon after.

He was one of the few newly qualified Sierra Leonean doctors who ushered in the country’s Independence in 1961.

He worked as Medical Officer in charge at the Hill Station, Kono and Bo Hospitals.

Dr. Abdul Afiz Hardy2After returning home from the UK, Dr. Abdul Afyz Hardy (Photo) won the trust and confidence of the leaders of Sierra Leone. He became the personal doctor of the country’s first Prime Minister – Sir Milton Margai; the Governor General – Sir Banja Tejan – Sie; and later President Siaka Stevens, with whom he travelled extensively.

Dr. Hardy worked at the Connaught Hospital for many years as Consultant Physician, where several newly qualified doctors worked under his care as house officers, senior house officers, registrars and specialists, until his retirement in 1984.

He was one of the early members of the West African College of Physicians and became Vice President of the college in 1978, and was also an examiner at the School of Nursing and Midwifery in Sierra Leone.

He was an elder in the Fourah Bay Community and was Chairman of the Governing Council of the Fourah Bay Mass Jammat.

He is survived by his wife Haja Kosna Hardy (nee Betts); children: medical doctor – Dr. Gamal Babatunde Hardy, who lives and works in the UK; medical doctor – Dr. Fawzia Iyamide Thomas, who also lives and work in the UK as a General Practitioner (GP); Mr. Iqbal Olufemi Hardy, an entrepreneur who lives in Freetown; Mr. Abdul Afyz Moronke Hardy, who lives and works in the UK; and another medical doctor – Dr. Yasmine Isatu Hardy, who lives and practices in Ghana.

Dr. Afyz is also survived by two grandchildren Jamilla and Abdul Jnr.

His son-in- law is no other than the editor of the Sierra Leone Telegraph – Mr. Abdul Rashid Thomas. He also leaves behind a loving daughter-in- law, Mrs Kamisa Hardy.

Dr. Afyz is predeceased by his brothers, the erudite and well known Professor Olumbe Bassir – former head of biochemistry at the University of Ibadan Nigeria and Mr. Eke Othman Hardy.

The funeral of Dr. Abdul Afyz Moronke Hardy will take place today in Fourah Bay, Freetown. He will be sorely missed by his family and the thousands of people that are still alive in Sierra Leone today, who owe their lives to the great doctor.

May his soul rest in perfect peace – and as the Quran says: “Ina li-Lahi wa ina il-Lahi raji-oun” – meaning: “From God we come, to Him we return”.

“When all is said and done, when once we returned to our maker, all that will be remembered are the good deeds that we have done in this life.”

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