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Name: WESLEY, George Howe (Dr.)

First Date: 1930

Profession: in charge of Mathari Mental Hospital

Area: Nairobi

Book Reference: Red 31, Carman

General Information:

Is this Wesley?:
Carman - After Dr. H.L. Gordon's retirement on account of ill health problems finding replacement - Finally after 6 months a new man was sent out. He was certainly entitled to be called a consultant in his field and there was nothing whatever wrong with his professional capabilities. Nevertheless he was about as unsuitable a candidate as could have been chosen. He was a self confessed homosexual, though not a practising one, he had been a patient in amental hospital after an attempt at suicide and he had also been a voluntary patient in an institution for the rehabilitation of alcoholics. I propose for obvious reasons to give him the name of Smith. I was detailed to meet him and he arrived accompanied by a magnificent Great Dane dog called Obe, which he told me was short for Oh! Be Joyful.
I could fill an entire chapter with amusing reminiscences about my friend Smith, but suffice it to say that from the start he lived up to his reputation as an alcoholic and there were repeated complaints made about him. Paterson, with a naivety which surprised me at the time, sent for me and told me to make a friend of the man whose sole trouble was that he was lonely. I did my best and took him out to dinner with the result that he made me nearly as drunk as I have been so that I had to have my car towed out of a mud-hole by the dispensary ambulance before I could get home. Lonely he may have been, but eccentric he certainly was.
He acquired a couple of lion cubs and began collecting chameleons which he kept in an enclosure with a fish-head stuck on a bush to attract flies for them to eat. He said he wanted to study their mating habits. I don't know what success he had, but it was certainly Christmas all the time for those chameleons.
Smith came of a good family and he told me that he was a personal friend of the Prince of Wales, later King Edward VIII, a statement which I had no reason to doubt for Smith never struck me as being either a liar or a braggart. He very soon found drinking companions more to his taste than I was and spent his time patronising the less reputable hotels and bars, always accompanied by Obe regardless of whether or no dogs were allowed, but Obe was so well-behaved and Smith was such a profitable customer that no one seemed to mind. He then took to turning up at Mathari late at night and bringing his companions to show them the more interesting inmates. Complaints were still being made, but when this last misdemeanour was officially reported it was necessary to take action. It was plainly futile to remonstrate with the man and when he had started on a drinking bout, he became totally irresponsible. A Medical Board was convened of which I was Chairman and we recommended that Smith should be retired on grounds of ill-health. I was instructed to keep an eye on him until he left for the Coast and this was just as well because he twice tried to kill himself. On the second occasion I told him that he was both selfish and inconsiderate and when he asked me what I meant I told him that since he was about to embark on a sea voyage he could save everyone a lot of trouble by writing a suicide note and then jumping over the side on a dark night. He told me I was utterly heartless and burst into tears, but my alleged heartlessness at least stopped him from any more suicidal attempts. I saw him off on the train where he was joined by a friend who was to inherit Obe. The only baggage they had in the compartment was an attache case containing three bottles of whisky and one of gin. It was all gone when they arrived at Mombasa and Smith had to be carried onto the ship on a stretcher. On his return to England he was appointed to a mental hospital in the west of England, but he was soon sacked and went to sea as a ship's surgeon. When the ship arrived at Cape Town Smith booked a room in an hotel and killed himself with an overdose of sleeping pills.
Blue Book 1931 appt. 19.2.1925 Sperintendent, Mathari Mental Hosp.

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