Kenya Medical and Practitioners and Dentists Board CEO DANIEL YUMBYA tells GARDY CHACHA why he values the contribution of the women in his life.
When a stranger asks who you are what do you usually say?
I am the CEO of the institution that handles all doctors practicing in Kenya. We handle cases of negligence during the interaction between a doctor and a patient. Cases such as Mugo wa Wairimu’s land on my desk and I am expected to sort them out with the rest of the team at the board.
At a personal level, do you appreciate women’s contribution to society?
I am what I am because I have a mother. Were it not for her efforts I wouldn’t be the person I am today. I regard her highly. I believe that answers your question.
You only have a mother?
I have a wife as well. She takes care of the family property. I believe it is because she is the best at managing the household. I am proud of all she has bestowed into my life. And the only daughters I have are my daughters-in-law: married to my two sons.
Your wife is better at management yet you are the CEO?
In that case I am a better public resources manager. She is very good with managing everything that pertains our home.
To rise to this position you must have harboured great ambition?
Growing up I wanted to become so many things. I hoped to be District Commissioner at some point. Then I also dreamt of becoming a lawyer – perhaps a magistrate. I was a DO at some point though. Now I am a manager and financial expert, courtesy of the disciplined upbringing in the hands of my mother.
You speak about your mother with such candour: were you a Mama’s boy?
No. She had nine sons. I was the fourth. Naturally, she loved her firstborn son more than the rest of us. We were not best of friends at all times. I have never forgotten the amount of firewood I carried for her. I think this depression in the middle of my head can be attributed to that.
Speaking of your head, that bald is expansive: how old could you be?
I will be celebrating my 56th birthday later in January.
If you ever became a magistrate, and a ‘Kamau wa Wairimu’ is brought to your court, what punishment would you give him?
I would look into the books and give maximum penalty
Even if it is taking him to the hangman?
The law is the law. Whatever it says I will honour it.
You wouldn’t have compassion for your fellow man?
Let’s just say I don’t have sympathy for quacks
Does the board defend women with as much zeal?
I have always told our women to report to the board if they suspect that they have been mishandled by a medical practitioner. I challenge them to come forth and see if due process won’t be followed. Women are valuable to everyone and there is no one at the board who would deliberately block justice for them.
The time that your job demands is a lot: has it ever been an issue at home?
I try apportioning all my weekend time to my family. But in between it is a real struggle. What I do is communicate appropriately back home. My wife does not like being disappointed. If you say you will be home for dinner at 7.30pm you better be seated at the table by that time. So, I will only promise availability when I am very sure I will make it.
How do you relax away from work?
I preach at church
That is all: no frolicking at the beach?
Yes, I take holidays. I treat my wife to a special holiday every year from 23rd to 27th December. Last year we flew to Cape Town, South Africa. And the rest of the family will usually be in tow. And have I told you that I love swimming while on vacation?
Really! You have never drowned: struggled under water?
I swim for fun not competition
Would you rather be treated by a male doctor or female?
It does not matter. I only look for competence. Usually I go for physicians if I feel sickly and need specialised treatment.