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British-Kenyan’s undying love for country amid adversity

By Robert Amalemba | April 11th 2016
Leonard Humber

KAKAMEGA: An ailing 75-year-old man is appealing to the Government to come to his aid.

Barry Leonard Humber came to Kenya from Britain in 1976 to oversee the construction and upgrade of hospitals including St Luke's Hospital-Kaloleni, Dreamland Medical Centre Kaptola-Kimilili, Nala Community Hospital-Kakamega, Sirisia, Naitiri and Mautuma and Sio Port Health centres.

After doing a superb job, Dr Humber claims that he was prevailed upon not to return to the UK by the then Vice President Daniel arap Moi and President Jomo Kenyatta so that he can pass on his skills to locals.

The holder of two PhDs in Building Science and Commercial Science and Special Building Technology agreed to stay on. In the process, he fell in love with the country and a Kenyan woman by the name Elizabeth.

As a result, in 1977, he sold everything he had acquired in Britain and started a new life in Kenya after acquiring a 38-acre farm in Malava.

Leonard Humber's humble home at Kakoyi village in Malava. Humber (above) was admitted to Nala Community Hospital in Kakamega on April 7, 2016. [PHOTO: BENJAMIN SAKWA/STANDARD]

Sadly, Humber, a Kenyan citizen who did a lot for this country, now lives in abject poverty in Kakoyi village in Malava.

"I came here in 1976 where upon Moi requested me to stay and get citizenship. I married a Kenyan Elizabeth in 1978 at Kakamega ACK Church after divorcing my British wife of six years. We had no children. My family prevailed upon me not to divorce but I live to regret the decision," said the humble-looking Humber from his Nala Community Hospital bed in Kakamega.

It is in Kakoyi where he lived with his wife, with whom he bore five children, before a secondary school teacher reportedly cut short his marital bliss.

"The teacher started dating my wife Elizabeth after we lived happily for 13 years. She then started selling my property, demolished my two permanent houses and walked away from our matrimonial bed. She sold the entire 38 acres, leaving me on a three-acre piece which she still swears she will sell," said Humber. The estranged couple divorced in 2005.

He adds: "The land was registered in my wife's name because I acquired it before getting Kenyan citizenship documents," he said.

Initially, Humber tried to block the sale of the property in court but he was unable to as he did not have money.

"I wish the State could be offering legal aid to victims of such instances. Where do I get Sh150,000 to pay an advocate to face perpetrators of my sufferings?" posed Humber who has blood pressure and cancer.

"It pains to see a bagasse processing industry set on my land emitting smoke that worsens my cancer situation."

The man who now lives in a small mud house is so in love with Kenya that he shrugs off any suggestion that he returns to Britain.

James Humber, his son, a sugarcane loader in Malava, takes care of his ailing father together with his wife Hellen Lusinya. "We can't afford his medical care, he sometimes goes out to beg," he said.

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