Kitengela Sculpture at Aga Khan Hospital Seeks to Inspire Hope and Brighten Lives of Patients

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. Photo: Flick prondis_in_kenya photostream. Copyright: Isabelle Prondzynski

By Malik Merchant
(Publisher-Editor, Simerg.com)

Last week Simerg published a very informative and interesting article by Zahir Dharsee of Toronto about his memories of the Nairobi Town Jamatkhana, which was once upon a time the Darkhana of Kenya (post link below). In searching for appropriate photos of the Jamatkhana to be included in the article, I discovered the photostream of prondis_in_kenya and wrote for permission to reproduce a photo she had taken. Isabelle Prondzynski (real name) promptly replied and granted me not only the permission for the Jamatkhana photo but also set me up to publish some outstanding photos she had taken during her visits to the Aga Khan Hospital. In her gracious reply she observes:

“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 Health, Hope and Happiness reminiscent of His Highness’s plumed crown’.”

Aga Khan Hospital cafetaria. Coffee reflections, with 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. Photo: Flickr photostream prondis_in_kenya. Copyright: Isabelle Prondzynski

Isabelle then compliments the Ismaili community and the Hospital by saying:

“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.”

Aga Khan Hospital signs. An excellent hospital in lovely surroundings. Photo: Flickr photostream prondis_in_kenya. Copyright: Isabelle Prondzynski

We are delighted to present a selection of Isabelle’s photos of the Kitengela sculpture, and also take the opportunity to publish her other lively shots which she took at the doctor’s plaza, the fountain area, the cafetaria and the Hawkers’ Market which is located across the road from the hospital premises. In her opinion the market is the best of the many excellent markets in Nairobi. With the summer heat now gripping many parts of Canada, the photos of the market stalls should lead us to our own local markets (Byward and Parkdale in Ottawa),

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. Photo: Flickr photostream prondis_in_kenya. Copyright: Isabelle Prondzynski

As regards the sculpture, we wrote to the artist, Nani Croze, to ask her about “Health, Hope and Happiness.” Nani is recuperating from a hip surgery at the Aga Khan Hospital but her husband, Eric Krystall, replied as follows:

“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.”

Enjoy the photos and click on the links below for more photos including a magnificent slide show.

A leaf of the Kitengela Glass sculpture "Health Hope and Happiness". Photo: Flickr photostream prondis_in_kenya. Copyright: Isabelle Prondzynski

Doctors' Plaza. at Aga Khan Hospital. A fine bright place where the consultants have their own practices. That day (March 30, 2010), I did not have an appointment and was merely taking pictures of the place. Photo: Flickr photostream prondis_in_kenya. Copyright: Isabelle Prondzynski

Palm tree growing within the inner courtyard of the Doctors' Plaza at Aga Khan Hospital.Photo: Flickr photostream prondis_in_kenya. Copyright: Isabelle Prondzynski

The rather lovely garden with the fountain and brick at the Doctors' Plaza of the Aga Khan Hospital. Photo: Flickr photostream prondis_in_kenya. Copyright: Isabelle Prondzynski

Reflection on the fountain at the Doctors' Plaza of the Aga Khan Hospital.Photo: Flickr photostream iprondis_in_kenya. Copyright: Isabelle Prondzynski

Star-shaped fountain at the Doctors' Plaza of the Aga Khan Hospital. Photo: Flickr photostream prondis_in_kenya. Copyright: Isabelle Prondzynski

The trunk of the palm tree growing beside my table in the cafeteria of the Doctors' Plaza at the Aga Khan Hospital. Photo: Flickr photostream prondis_in_kenya. Copyright: Isabelle Prondzynski

A sunny morning in the cafeteria of the Doctors' Plaza at Aga Khan Hospital. Photo: Flickr photostream prondis_in_kenya. Copyright: Isabelle Prondzynski

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. Photo: Flickr photostream prondis_in_kenya. Copyright: Isabelle Prondzynski

Watermelons by the truckload being unloaded at the Hawkers' Market opposite Aga Khan Hospital in Parklands.Photo: Flickr photostream prondis_in_kenya. Copyright: Isabelle Prondzynski

Naivasha thorn avenue into City Park, at the Hawkers' Market opposite Aga Khan Hospital. Photo: Flickr photostream prondis_in_kenya. Copyright: Isabelle Prondzynski

Sculpture...one more time...A growing flower on the Kitengela Glass sculpture "Health Hope and Happiness". Photo: Flickr photostream prondis_in_kenya. Copyright: Isabelle Prondzynski

Date article posted: June 22, 2011

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 locating the explanation of the Aga Khan Health Services logo shown in the second photo. We wish Nani Croze a complete recovery from her hip surgery.

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/

Also, see Simerg’s Jamatkhana Series: 5 Palace Gate, Xinjiang’s Tashkorgan, Ismaili Centre Burnaby,  Kampala, Nairobi Town and Ismaili Centre London

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5 thoughts on “Kitengela Sculpture at Aga Khan Hospital Seeks to Inspire Hope and Brighten Lives of Patients

  1. Oh what beautiful photos and article. I have spent a large part of my life in the hospital wards from a very early age. The hospital staff were always at hand for the slightest of pains and aches you associate with a hospital stay.

    Not only do I remember the hospital, but also we used to live just about a block away on the same stretch of road as the hospital and the nurses became friends!

    EXCELLENT, EXCELLENT, EXCELLENT.

    Shirin

  2. Thank you for sharing this beautiful article and photos. Good job.

    Anwar Allahwala

  3. Very good photos. My sister and my wife did their nursing at this hospital in the year 1979 and we have good memories. We remember and miss Biny the tutor, Dr. S.C. Patel, Dr. Mushi, Dr. Faya, and my brother-in-law, Abdul Ahmed, an accountant.

  4. Thank you for this beautiful article, Malik. I am so glad to read more about Nani Croze’s sculpture, and to know the meaning of the triple crescent logo. I hope that Aga Khan Hospital will continue to give Health, Hope and Happiness to its patients.

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