The Nairobi Aga Khan Hospital’s Kitengela Sculptures

By Malik Merchant

Isabelle Prondzynski’s flick photostream (prondis_in_kenya) has some marvellous photos of the Nairobi Aga Khan hospital grounds and the surrounding neighbourhood. When asked to comment about the hospital, Prondzynsk replied:

The highest profile Ismaili buildings in Nairobi are probably those of the Aga Khan Hospital. This is an excellent hospital, very beautiful too. There is a [Kitengela] sculpture in the garden there which is specifically dedicated to the hospital. All I know about the sculpture is what the Kitengela web site writes: ‘The Aga Khan Hospital sports [the sculture] with the theme ‘Health, Hope and Happiness’ reminiscent of His Highness’s plumed crown. The Ismaili community in Nairobi is highly respected. One of the doctors whom I got to know, was quite happy to come to the Anglican church where I work and help our patients from the slum communities. We still remember her with a lot of fondness.

We asked Nani Croze the creator of the Kitengela sculpture to explain its significance. Her husband, Eric Krystal, explained the meaning on her behalf, as she was recovering from a hip surgery:

A number of years ago, Nani decided that in addition to the glass art she was doing for commissions and sales she would try to brighten the lives of patients entering hospitals. So she created appropriate glass sculptures to donate to a number of hospitals including Gertrude’s Gardens and of course the Aga Khan Hospital. The sculpture is made with slabs of thick glass which is chipped to reflect light and set in cement on iron frames. The process is called Dalle de Verre. Health, Hope and Happiness was designed by Nani and executed by the Kitengela Glass team of glass artists and metal workers. It was originally prominently displayed at the entrance to the hospital and was launched by Nizar Juma, the then Director and staff in the company of many supporters of the hospital. Unfortunately due to construction, the statue was moved to a spot in the garden and is now mostly unnoticed.

The following is selection of Isabelle’s photos of the Kitengela sculpture, the grounds of the Aga Khan Hospital and the excellent Hawkers’ Market which is located across the road from the hospital premises.

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The Kitengela sculpture at Aga Khan Hospital from the front. Originally at the hospital’s entrance, the sculpture has been moved to the garden in the hospital.

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At the Aga Khan Hospital cafetaria. The emblem of the Aga Khan Health Services on cup and saucer. The symbol represents health care and compassion. The crescent is an ancient icon which, when used in red, has become the equivalent of the International Red Cross. The three-crescent design in its simple, poetic form creates an internal space symbolising how institutions and programmes using the symbol surround, attend and care for those in need.

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Aga Khan Hospital signs. An excellent hospital in lovely surroundings.

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Lots of fruit for sale at Nairobi Hawkers’ Market opposite Aga Khan Hospital. Dates in the foreground, with plums and pineapples and much else. Of the many splendid markets in Nairobi, this is the best.

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A leaf of the Kitengela Glass sculpture “Health Hope and Happiness”.

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Doctors’ Plaza. at Aga Khan Hospital. A fine bright place where the consultants have their own practices.

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Palm tree growing within the inner courtyard of the Doctors’ Plaza at Aga Khan Hospital.

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The rather lovely garden with the fountain and brick at the Doctors’ Plaza of the Aga Khan Hospital.

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Reflection on the fountain at the Doctors’ Plaza of the Aga Khan Hospital.

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Star-shaped fountain at the Doctors’ Plaza of the Aga Khan Hospital.

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The trunk of the palm tree growing beside a table in the cafeteria of the Doctors’ Plaza at the Aga Khan Hospital.

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A sunny morning in the cafeteria of the Doctors’ Plaza at Aga Khan Hospital.

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Jacaranda blossom – The most beautiful flowering tree of Nairobi. Kenyatta Avenue and many other city streets and parks (here Aga Khan Hospital) have many jacaranda trees. The flowers are at their best in October each year.

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Watermelons by the truckload being unloaded at the Hawkers’ Market opposite Aga Khan Hospital in Parklands.

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Naivasha thorn avenue into City Park, at the Hawkers’ Market opposite Aga Khan Hospital.

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Sculpture…one more time…A growing flower on the Kitengela Glass sculpture “Health Hope and Happiness”.

Photos Copyright: Isabelle Prondzynski. Flickr photostream prondis_in_kenya.

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Editor’s note: We are deeply indebted to Isabelle Prondzynski for permission to publish a sample of her wonderful collection. Links to her photostream and slideshows are given below. We also thank Eric Crystall for the sculpture background and Rukhsana Ali for sending us an explanation of the Aga Khan Health Services logo etched on the cup and saucer.

Memorable slideshow of Aga Khan Hospital: Slideshow by prondis_in_kenya
Isabelle Prondzynski’s main flickr photostream: prondis_in_kenya.
More photos of the market: Hawker’s Market photos by prondis_in_kenya
More information about the Kitengela art form:
http://www.kitengela-glass.com/

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Profile of Malik Merchant at Contributors.

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