An African ‘Florence Nightingale’ (Notes on Justus Akinsanya’s biography of Kofoworola Abeni Pratt)

About the author

The author of this book was a distinguished Nigerian-born nurse and educator, Justus Akinbaya Akinsanya (1936-2005). In the late 1950s he went to England to study economics, but instead did nurse training, to qualify as a fever nurse at Abergele Chest Hospital in North Wales. He then did general nurse training at Crumpsall Hospital, Manchester. In 1967, he did courses in orthopaedic, dermatological and psychiatric nursing and qualified as a sister tutor (at the University of London), He did a BSc (hons), then a PhD at the Institute for Education, London.

Akinsanya held teaching positions at the Dorset Institute (now Bournemouth University) and East Anglia Polytechnic University, at the latter as reader, professor and head of head of Health Care and Social Work, to retire as professor emeritus in 1996.

He returned to Nigeria 1975-78, recruited by the Nursing Council of Nigeria, where he held several senior positions, up to acting registrar. He was lecturer at the Institute of Management and Technology, Enegu, 1976-77. He was made a fellow of the Royal College of Nursing, and authored or edited five other books on nursing.

He married in 1967, and was the father of three sons and a daughter.

Like his subject, K.A. Pratt, Akinsanya is credited with “firsts,” notably as the first black member of the English National Board for Nursing, Midwifery and Health Visiting , on which he served 1988-93. He is credited with coining the term “bio-nursing,” stressing the importance of biological science in nursing. His 1984 book, based on his doctoral thesis, was Knowledge of the Life Sciences as a Basis for Practice . He was made a fellow of the Royal College of Nursing in 1988.

Akinsanya said that he never experienced racism himself, but, as a researcher for the Commission on Racial Equality, he saw it in the NHS (Laurence Dopson, “Justus Akinsanya, Nurse-educationist and pioneer of bio-nursing,” The Independent (26 December 2005).

Research for the biography

Akinsanya, while in Nigeria with the Nursing Council, learned of the significance of Pratt’s work, began to collect material on her. He interviewed her extensively, plus her husband, two sons and numerous colleagues and friends. In the U.K., he conducted interviews with Pratt’s key mentors, the senior British nurses who fostered her through the transition process: Louise M. Bell, Irene Morrison, MBE and Margaret Smyth, CBE. He obtained a large number of interesting photographs, from family and friends, nurses and nursing students at various stages in Nigerian nursing. He dedicated the book to Dr Olu Pratt, by then Pratt’s late husband.

About this edition

Akinsanya’s An African ‘Florence Nightingale’: Chief (Dr) Mrs Kofoworola Abeni Pratt was published in 1987, solely as a print book, by Vantage Publishers, Ibadan. It became an “orphan book” on his death and his publisher going out of business. The Nightingale Society is pleased to make it available again in facsimile, exactly as it originally appeared. Readers are invited to send a copy to their own university or nursing faculty library, public library, or wherever it might seem appropriate.


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