Obituary

Hush-Hush: Magufuli & President Uhuru’s dentist succumbed to ‘Miss Rona’

President Uhuru has a team of doctors who keep to the shadows unlike his predecessors

More than teething problems: Dr Njuguna Machua, the President’s personal dentist, was also Col (Rtd) Cyrus Oguna’s family dentist. But while Oguna nursed the vagaries of the pandemic and survived, he was not as lucky. Dr Machua was buried in his Kibiria rural home. He was survived by his widow Sarah Njuguna, a nurse, and three young children, a girl and two boys. 

By Undercover Reporter

Death, as it does to all men, finally came to Tanzanian President Dr John Pombe Magufuli.  He died of heart complications related to ‘Miss Rona’ which most suspected all along, anyway. And so did President Uhuru Kenyatta’s dentist, Dr Andrew Machua Njuguna. He succumbed last December, the third local dentist to ‘bite cotton’ during the pandemic.  Dr Machua’s death was kept hush-hush. Just like Magufuli’s.

Dr Machua was taken ill in November. His position saw him admitted, not at a public facility, but at the Defence Forces Memorial Hospital Covid-19 Centre. There, he found another patient and personal friend, Government Spokesman Col (Rtd) Cyrus Oguna- who thinks Kenyans are not taxed enough.

Dr Machua died on Christmas Eve 2020. Oguna praised him as “a fine dentist, a fine doctor, good man and up there they sure needed a fine dentist.”

A President’s health is a matter of public interest as any incapacity can lead to political crisis

Deadly cavity: Dr Njuguna Machua worked under Dr Robert Mathenge, the ‘Principal Physician at State House.’ Dr Mathenge remembered Machua as a “humble young promising doctor who did not only have the knowledge of medicine but the unique art of medicine.” 

President Uhuru sent Dagoretti County Commissioner Tom Ajere to deliver his condolence message in which he described Machua as a “social kind, generous, courageous and hard-working young man” who studied in Cape Town but returned to practice and “serve his motherland.” 

President Uhuru has a team of doctors who keep to the shadows unlike his predecessors. His Old Guy, founding President Mzee Jomo Kenyatta’s personal doctors were known; Dr Njoroge Mungai, the Casanova who was more at home in Casinos than at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Dr Eric Mngolla-who advised him to avoid red meat but Jomo would have none of it.

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Second President Daniel arap Moi, who died last February, had Dr David Silverstein, his doctor of 42 years, while retired President Mwai Kibaki had Dr Dan Gikonyo of the Karen Hospital.

Magufuli was raised by his guka and mother, has only one known photo from his childhood

Cleverest man in the room: The educated can slump into illiteracy. President Magufuli, like the Maji Maji Rebellion in which Tanzanian warriors believed magic water would stall bullet from colonial German guns in two years to 1907, he dismissed the pandemic even as army generals, priests and nuns died one by one or in droves.

A President’s health is a matter of public interest as any incapacity can lead to political crisis, the kind witnessed in Tanzania after Magufuli died almost two weeks ago, but political posturing and power games saw announcement of his death delayed to comical ends.

And so it goes that Uhuru’s battalion of personal physicians are not known to the public. Kenyans have never been informed of Uhuru nursing any ailments. That is unlike that day in 1996 when President Moi flew to Israel for a cataract operation. His missing from ubiquitous news bulletins saw Kenyans relocating from cities to shags fearing the worst.

Magufuli has succumbed in circumstances that will go down in the annals. The man was raised by his guka and mother. One who has only one known photo from his childhood: as a six year old boy in a stained shirt and sandwiched between two elderly men, his dusty legs dangling from a chair.

Ushuhuda: Magufuli, a staunch, front-pew Catholic also opted for prayers in churches filled to the rafters and without any social distancing. The ‘Bulldozer’ was felled by the faceless enemy he so belittled. He was 61, had a full five year term to go before his death at Mzena Hospital which is ran by the Tanzanian Intelligence Security Service.

When he was a Master’s student at the University of Dar-es-Salaam, the Vice Chancellor, Prof P. Mlama, sent a public appeal for Tanzanians to raise money for his medical appeal for treatment to Britain.

Magufuli had a heart condition even then. That is the boy who became President.

But Magufuli never wanted to be President funny enough. He got known for his eccentric sitting by the roadside counting the number of lorries supplying sand and ballast when he was Minister for Works.

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The roads snaking all over Tanzania became his tarmac to State House where he extended his eccentrics: he hated foreign travel, never set foot in a Western country and once slashed a Tanzanian delegation to a Commonwealth conference from 50 to four people! He cut his Ministers to 19, down 11 less than the previous government “to save money.”

Operation ‘squeeze the boil’ saw Magufuli dropping unannounced

Steam bath: President Magufuli dismissed vaccines and instead relied on herbal tea concoctions from Madagascar while asking his people to indulge in steam inhalation sessions.

Operation “squeeze the boil” saw Magufuli dropping unannounced into government offices from where missing civil servants were dismissed on the spot. His popularity soared.

He cut budgets for Independence Celebrations and having grown up in blighting poverty was a darling of dirt poor Tanzanians for his pro-poor policies including dispensing with curfews and lockdowns. Indeed, it was his poor handling of the pandemic not even Prophet David Owuor saw coming that has speeded his exit to that “land where no traveler returns.”

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