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Biographical entry Peters, Lenrie Leopold Wilfrid (1932 - 2009)

FRCS 1967; BA Cambridge 1956; MB BChir 1959.

27 May 2009
Dakar, Senegal
General surgeon and Poet


Lenrie Peters was a distinguished poet and surgeon. He was born in Bathurst (now Banjul), the capital of Gambia. Both his parents, Kezia and Lenrie Peters, had emigrated from Sierra Leone. His father, Lenrie, was editor of the Gambia Echo. His mother Kezia had been brought up in England. Of Lenrie’s four sisters, Bijou became a journalist, Florence, a historian, Ruby, a UN administrator, and Alaba, a movie director. He was educated at the Methodist High School in Bathurst and the Prince of Wales School in Freetown, Sierra Leone, from which he entered Trinity College, Cambridge, where he was elected president of the African Students’ Union. He then went for his clinical training to University College Hospital and qualified in 1959, during which time he was also working for the BBC Africa Programme.

After qualifying, Lenrie Peters did junior posts in Guildford and, after passing the FRCS, returned to Banjul in 1969 as surgeon to the government Bansang Hospital. Two years later, in partnership with Samuel J Palmer, he opened the Westfield Clinic, Gambia’s first private hospital.

He began to write novels and poetry as an undergraduate. His first collection of poetry was published in Ibadan in 1964, and his first novel The second round (London, Heinemann) in London in 1965. His 1981 poetry collection was published to widespread acclaim, despite his criticism of his fellow-countrymen.

He played an active part in politics, working for the National Consultative Committee which worked for the reestablishment of constitutional democracy. In addition to his writing and his surgical practice, Peters ran Farato Farms Export Ltd, a company that exported potatoes and mangoes to the United Kingdom.

He was a fellow of the West African and the International Colleges of Surgeons, Officer of the Republic of Gambia, and in 1995 nominated as the Gambia News and Report man of the year. He was president of the Historic Commission of Monuments of The Gambia and on the board of directors of the National Library of The Gambia.

He married Rosemary and was divorced in 1965. He died in Dakar, Senegal, on 27 May 2009 aged 76.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Senegambia News 28 May 2009; The Point 25 September 2009].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England