It was a sight to behold when one of Liberia’s oldest living medical practitioners, Dr. Kanda Golafale, celebrated his 91st birthday at his Tweh Farm residence, Bushrod Island on Saturday, June 20, 2020.
He was born on June 20, 1929, to the blessed union of Mr. and Mrs. Saki Tango Golafale, in Goeja, Grand Cape Mount County. His parents have predeceased him.
Government officials, family members, and well-wishers joined the celebrated surgeon, academic, and statesman to mark the momentous birthday event.
Apart from nuclear family members, comprising the second and third generations of Dr. Golafale’s lineage, many members of the extended family from Grand Cape Mount, particularly Pokpa and Tewor Districts, were also present.
What could have passed as a simple family affair, attracted national interest, and rightly so, because the celebrant, in his active career days as a renowned surgeon, also served as a public servant, accepting to go to anywhere he was assigned in the country to perform his duty.
The celebrant, who was flanked by his children, sister; grandchildren; great-grandchildren; relatives, friends, and well-wishers were sighted smiling all through the program.
It was a day that the act of smiling was redefined as Dr. Golafale responded to greetings from family members and friends throughout the event to mark his 91st birthday.
The admirers of Dr. Golafale intermittently rendered prayers and praises to Almighty God for sparing his life.
Even the children put on a touching rendition of a birthday song to honor their wonderful father. The food and drinks that never seemed to get finished continued to be eaten. People danced and danced until the proverbial wee hours of the morning. It was a celebration that those who attended will talk of for a very long time.
The highlight of the event was when the attendants joined Dr. Golafale to cut the birthday cake amid shouts of joy. Some of the guests spoke their minds and commended the celebrant for his generous nature and said his life was worthy of emulation by all. They attributed the celebrant’s noticeable longevity to his pure heart that is devoid of hatred for his fellow human beings.
The Celebrant expressed his gratitude to God for protecting him and his family members.
He said: “I am regretting today that the people of Lofa County have taken over all the hospitals in Grand Cape Mount, particularly Porka District. So what are our people doing?”
The nursing profession, according to the celebrant, is very sweet, “if you can become a good medical doctor then you can become a professional nurse to save lives.”
“Today, June 20, 2020, makes me 90 years old and probably Liberia’s oldest living Medical Doctor. As a retired surgeon, I feel blessed to have served Liberia for 50+ years! It has been by the special Grace of God that I have used my knowledge for 50+ years of medical practice to save thousands of lives,” he added.
Dr. Golafale admonished young people to seek knowledge which, according to him, is power.
He concluded with his message: “Take the knowledge and seek knowledge and then everything will be added unto to you. Don’t follow peer pressure because tomorrow they will be the same people to mock at you.”
The Chief organizer of the occasion, Mrs. Dabah Varpilah described Dr. Golafale as “a simple man with lots to give. A very nice personality, wonderful and compassionate. He shows much love to everyone around him and is always willing to share what he has with others.”
Dr. Golafale’s Life
Dr. Golafale started his elementary school in his hometown of Damballah in1939 and, after turning age three, he enrolled at the Mbaloma mission school where he graduated from the 8th grade in 1946.
From 1946-1951, Dr. Golafale attended and graduated from the famous St. John’s Episcopal High School in Robertsport, Grand Cape Mount County, Liberia. It was father E. Bolling Robertson (deceased) who took him to St. John’s.
He immediately enrolled at the Cuttington College (Now Cuttington University) in 1952 and graduated in 1955 with B.Sc in chemistry. Kanda is thankful to Madam Catherine C. Barnaby, his chemistry teacher at St. Johns, who guided him to develop an interest in the sciences.
He returned to St. Johns and taught biology and Latin for beginners for six months, during which time he received a scholarship jointly sponsored by the Liberian Government and the Federal Republic of west Germany — Deutscher Akademisher Austausch Dienst (DAAD), as the program was called. This was in 1957.
Dr. Golafale enrolled at the University of Heidelberg Medical School in 1957, since he had two years of German class at Cuttington College, he immediately started med-school without having to go through a language class as this was required for foreign students.
After a student excursion trip to Berlin in 1957, he fell in love with the city, and he decided to matriculate to the Free University of Berlin in 1958 where he graduated in 1964 with a medical degree (MD).
After two years of internship, ‘Dr. G’, as he was affectionally called, came back to Liberia and worked at the Liberia Government Hospital in 1966 for six months. He again received a scholarship to go to West Germany to specialize in general surgery. From 1962-1972, Dr. G received his training at the Staedtisdes Krankenhaus Spandau Nord under Prof. Baukhage.
Dr. G came back to Liberia in 1972 and worked as a general surgeon at many medical facilities in Liberia including the John F. Kennedy Memorial Hospital, where he served the position as Chief medical officer. During the period under review, he visited the Guy’s Hospital in London for a refresher course in medicine for three months.
Dr. G was retired in 2006 at the age of 77, after serving as a medical director at the Redemption Hospital for eight years.
He grew up as an Episcopalian but now a Methodist. Dr. Golafale is married with four children: Jaa, Saki, Mike Tango, and Jamba.