Frontlist | Rabia Khan: book on unexplored history of Indian nurses in SA

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The book took 18 years in the making and is focused on the bountiful yet unexplored history of Indian nurses in South Africa.

 

After countless sleepless nights and perusing dusty archives with unshakable determination, veteran nurse and founder of the Chatsworth Dancing Pencils writing club, Rabia Khan recently launched her latest book: Truro Nurses.

The book took 18 years in the making and is focused on the bountiful yet unexplored history of Indian nurses in South Africa.

“I was writing a piece on my late mum, Matron Amina Khan and I found there was a lack of information on Indian nurses,” shared Khan.

According to Khan, the history of Indian nursing in South Africa, consists of a great gap within South African literature. Minimum information was available on this topic and what little that existed, usually conflicted with each other.

“The history of nursing in South Africa is an unexplored terrain while the history of nursing in western countries like the UK and USA is a subject field of research on its own,” she added. The book highlights the first Indian nurse, Irene Suchilla Godfrey of the Somerset Hospital in the Cape Colony, Savanthalay Pillay from Tongaat, who was claimed as the first Indian nurse to train at McCord Hospital in Durban as well as the infamous traditional midwives of the Indian barracks: the ‘Bag Ladies’.

“My mentors are Dr Shula Marks of City University in London and Dr Helen Sweet of Oxford University. They wrote extensively on the history of nursing in South Africa,” continued Khan.

Boasting an impressive resume of her own in the nursing profession, she lectured at the University of Natal and DUT.

Thereafter, she taught at Rosebank College and the University of the Western Cape where she taught community health.

“I was also the principal of the Gandhi Mandela Nursing Academy in town until 2014. In 2015, I moved to Saudi Arabia where I lectured at Princess Nourah University- the largest women’s university in the world. I am currently consulting for the Chatsmed Candlelit Nursing College at RK Khan Hospital,” she concluded.

 

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