Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Greg Patricio: My life in Kenya, the final chapter

My Life in Kenya
Part – 3

“Life does not get better by chance, it gets better by change.” John Rohn

The winds of change continued to blow in Kenya during the Mau Mau era. (1952/1960) It was a time of nervousness and trepidation for everybody, especially those living in the up-country farms.

Freedom is not free.

The Kikuyu tribe were dominant in the uprising, but sadly, their tribesmen suffered the most. Oath taking, fear and witch-craft was their prime mode for recruiting supporters. Other tribes, like the Luo, Wakamba, Kalenjin, and the proud Maasai took a back seat.  It is unbelievable, that the seeds for freedom in Kenya was actually planted in the 1930’s by Harry Thuku. We had no inkling, as to what was going on. We were kept in the dark, safely, under a warm blanket, while the struggle for equality and Uhuru went on. Many of the immigrants and our parents worried how Uhuru, would affect us all. The attitude of, most Goans in Kenya, was the mantra, “Ignorance is bliss and it is folly to be wise” especially in politics.

“When the missionaries came to Africa they had the Bible and we had the land. They said, 'Let us pray.' We closed our eyes. When we opened them, we had the Bible and they had the land." - Desmond Tutu

To be fair, the Missionaries did a lot to educate the Africans, in the west, Maseno High School and closer to Nairobi Alliance High School. Many, future, prominent politicians studied herein.

Now, proud to say that, there were some Asians Nationalists who supported this cause and were incarcerated, because of their affiliation with the Mau Mau. Indian Nationalism, started with India trying to kick off the yoke of imperialism in India. There was also small faction of Goans, in Kenya and abroad, who put their “susegaad” (easy going) attitude on the back burner and who also fostered an, Anti-Portuguese, propaganda. They were agitating to get the Portuguese out of Goa, for better or for the worse!

 Man’s inhumanity to man. - Robert Burns

The British were not as gentlemanly as we were taught to believe. Sadly, they tortured a lot of their prisoners and massacred quite a few. They also did this in India. They looted these countries of valuables and natural resources and manpower. They gave in one hand and took with the other. Much to their credit, the British, have recently agreed to pay compensation for their atrocities in Kenya.   

Nineteen Fifty Three….. Was a busy Year. A new queen, Queen Elizabet II was on the throne, aaaaand,
it was the birth of the “East African Rallye” safari. It was then called the “Coronation Safari” and only the Mzungu, white settlers took part. Few years later, a lot of Asians took part, mainly in little VW’s. Volvos
Datsuns and DKW’s, as these were cars that could be modified and strengthened at a lower cost. It was not an occasion for speed, it was more of endurance and skill. A well know Rallye driver is known to have said, “If I used my head more, instead of my foot, I would win more rallies.”  It was not an event for speed or “Put the pedal to the metal”. Eventually the East African Rally, gained prominence among a lot of overseas, professional Rallye drivers, but they did not win for many years, the local drivers dominated.
They knew the terrain and when to go off road and take calculated risks. Finally, the overseas drivers
got the upper hand as they had professional support teams, following them with air support and spare 
parts, and factory trained service crew. Smarter ones, partnered with local, navigator/driver.  
Later on, Tanzania and Uganda were included in the route and so the starting point was also shared.
It was about a 3000 miles event and went on from Holy Thursday to Easter Monday. Yes, a four-day,
holiday, weekend, when I landed in the USA/Virginia, I was shocked that, Easter was just like a regular
weekend, I had to take vacation, to get time off.
O’ my gosh! It is Holy week! The very prestigious “Gold Cup” hockey tournament is on, got my transistor Radio, try listening to the Padre, in church, and or rush off to the City Park Stadium, walking via the City Park woods, which bordered Pangani. Eyes on the hockey game, but ears listening to the progress of the Safari Rallye on the radio. Teams from all East Africa, came to partake in this very popular Hockey tourney. It was played on Murram (earth packed field), very fast and furious. Never a dull moment. Next, go downtown Nairobi, to the City Hall the check the 24hr. scoreboard for the latest Rallye results. If you were lucky, may be a buddy with a car would take you to some strategic point on the rally route.

Nineteen Fifty-Three. Was also the year the sleek BOAC Comet, my all-time favorite aircraft, was first
seen in Nairobi. Sooo, sleek…. And what, no propellers. I think it was first Jet engine passenger aircraft.
Unfortunately, there were a few serious crashes and it was grounded, with fuselage breaking-up problems.

By now our lease on the house in Parkland ended, and a house hunting we had to go. We moved to a place in the newer section of Eastleigh, on the road to the R.A.F. Aerodrome. The houses were all one level building, usually with a rectangular courtyard and rooms on three side, shared toilet and kitchen were at one end. But you know, sports, music, and parties are in our blood and as you cannot keep good Goan guys down, a lot of these courtyards were utilized to play badminton or volleyball, keeping us out of mischief. They were also used to hold parties, and dutifully decorated. These houses in Kenya were built of solid stone upon stone and mortar, no frail wood framework, drywall or sheetrock. No special
sitting room, or bedroom or bathroom or laundry room, hence no my room, your room, arguments.      

My commute to the Dr. Riberio Goan school was now a little difficult, had to take the local bus,
to Ngara, and then had a twenty minute, walk. The school had one school bus, it only covered a certain area and, eventually it was only used, taking us for Soccer and Hockey engagements.
On our way to school, were vendors, with handcarts selling peanuts, sugarcoated or plain and other
sweets. Some vendors sold the strangest fruits, Victorias, (with salt and chili powder.) Papettas, etc.
The local Africans cooked Mogo (Cassava) strips served with chili powder salt and lemon, and fresh mahindi (Corn-on-the-cob) cooked on top of the open fire of the jicho.
We must have been a hardy breed, they would dish-out these goodies. Like semi ripe mangos cut them with a rusty old knife and again served with salt and chili powder, Finger licking good, yummy, hygiene was left in the classroom. At home, no confusions with forks and knives spoons.

 Ngara was a central spot for shops like Mithai (Indian Sweets), Saris and other commodities. For a lot of the public buses (Kenya Bus Svc) this was where they dispersed to different destinations. We would buy our comic and magazines and candy here. The strange thing was that, some comics we bought had the front cover ripped off.? Many years later I became aware for the reason of this shady practice. I gathered they would send the covers back to the source that supplied them the comic/magazines and claim they were unsold, and hence get some refund.

The houses in this part of Eastleigh, were not as crowded as section I & II. There was fair amount of space between houses, and at the back large tracts of grassland bordering to the R.A.F. perimeter. One would often see partridges running through the grass. They were reluctant to fly. After the rains, one would find strings of frog eggs and later on tadpoles and some strange creatures swimming together with some mosquito larvae. (In the USA, when I collected a few tadpoles in a jar and took them home to show my kids, I was dismayed, as when I added some tap water, they bellied up and died. I guess I should have let the tap water standing for some time to get rid of additive like fluorine and chlorine.)

In Kenya we were taught that we could “clean our water” by dissolving alum, which when dissolved would float at the top, left standing for a time it would sink, taking down particulate matter. (flocculation)

Our drinking water was usually boiled. As we had no refrigerator’s, it was poured in a gourd shaped semiporous, large, clay, earthen vessel, it got wet on the outside and evaporation did the cooling. Water was scooped up with a large ladle, later models had a little tap. In Goa, they used clay pots for all their cooking, and the food was very much more, flavorful. Spoons were made of polished coconut shell.

On special festival days, food was served on a banana leaf. Fish was also baked wrapped in these leaves.

My favorite was a kind of sweetened rice floor dough wrapped in Turmeric leave and steamed. (Turmeric leaves are large and aromatic and have the taste and flavor of arrow mint and spearmint.)

We survived aluminum cookware. Most of our pots and pans were made of this material, and I vividly recall how spotted and pitted the appearance of these pots were, as much or our cooking was spicy and acidic and cooked with vinegar. How much of aluminum leached in our food is a question that now bothers me. As, now, when I hide Easter eggs I have trouble finding them….yippee, I do not need anyone to hide them for me !

  Necessity is the mother of invention, our semi perishable food was stored in a free-standing cabinet with fine wire netting, we termed “meat safe”, to keep flies away etc. But ants would try to invade, so we tried putting the four legs of the meat-safe in cans with water, a mini moat. Worked for a time, until some dust floated on the water, and the ants would make an ant bridge. We also used a curly sticky strip, hanging from the ceiling, that was supposed to trap flying pests.  If all that failed, we had the Flit Pump, which sprayed a thine mist of insecticide. Meats and fish were cooked on the day of purchase. Milk was always
boiled, it was usually full cream milk, and after boiling, as it cooled a firm layer of cream would float
on the top, I would often skim it off add some sugar beat it and then enjoy it. I would use a couple of days of this collection to make my toffee fudge. We also collect this solidified cream for a couple of weeks, then beat it up cook it lightly to produce ghee. (clarified butter). We used ghee to pop our popcorn.
Years later milk was sold in a three-sided pyramid shaped container, called Tetra Pak, and was less creamy, and was….. Pasteurised…. (Past ur eyes)….Heee heeee! We did not have refrigerators.

My recipe for Sweet Toast….I took a slice of bread. Buttered it. Sprinkled it with sugar. Slide it under the Jicho, until the sugars begin to melt and got brown, and crunchy. (When cooled). Now you can use a toaster oven, on the grill setting. Yummy. (Do not touch the brown sticky melted sugar, let it cool first)

I digressed. (Eastleigh/RAF House). Frequently there would be grassfires in these areas. After a fire, I would go looking for spent tracer bullet shells, always an exciting find for a kid. These must have been from the R.A.F. shooting range. In this neighborhood there were mostly Somali’s and Seychellois family’s. We eventually moved to a flat. (a self-contained apartment). Now we had a fulltime African servant to do the house work and he lived in what was termed “the boys quarters” their employment was termed “house boy”. This is where I would “sneak a snack” when Mia was not looking, and enjoy my Ugali (corn flour dough made by boiling it.) posho, (beans) Sukuma weekie (Kale/collard greens) and my favorite, Irio, a mashed mish-mash of legumes, mahindi (corn), and nyama-choma…. barbecued meat was sometime on the menu.

The parish church St. Thresa’s, then, was a small chapel. Always crowded. Eventually a larger,
more modern church was built. The unique thing was they did away with church bells, what they had
instead was amplifiers and speakers with the sound of bells. However, this did not last long as there
were a lot of complaints about them being too loud and harsh?  The old chapel was now used for meetings and during Christmas, full sized crèches were housed. The best cribs were made by the Italian church
in Westland, Consolata Mission Church. 

 It is strange now, looking back to realise that the Catholic churches, Holy Family down town,
St. Francis Xavier, in Parkland, St. Theresa’s in Eastleigh was dominated by Goans parishioners.
Most of the clergy were Irish. The church in the river road area St. Peter Clavier was predominantly African. (This was the church we went to after a late-night dance or party as it had the earliest Mass Svc.
Yes, it was ingrained in us never to miss Sunday Mass) Later on the Italian, Consolata Mission, and Church in Westland’s was also attended by many Goan parishioners. My first son was baptized there.
We were more Catholic than the Pope, Sunday morning Mass, evening Benediction service, Monday evening, Miraculous Medal Novena and Wednesday Our Lady of Perpetual Succor Novena, and every Friday was a day of abstinence…Strictly no meat. 

He who builds a fence, fences out more than he fences in…….
In writing this soliloquy, has opened my mind, as to what it was like it was like to have been a Goan, from the inside-out. We did not integrate with other Indian communities or treat the African as equals. Maybe it was an inbreed cultural, human trait, of fear and survival. Sadly, we looked up and salaamed the Europeans, (the only people I called Sir, was our teachers), we looked down on other Indians and especially Africans. Our schools were, kind of segregated, and it was only the lucky few and very intelligent Goan students and those who could afford it went to High School, where there was some diversity of Indians, but still, a very few Africans. It was only at the Collage, University level (Royal Collage, Makerere Collage) that one saw an International and African mix.
Beauty is (not) only skin deep. Our evaluation of “good lookin” was to be light skinned…. We did not seem to appreciate the finer points of a darker hued Goan. What can I say, from the side lines we admired and ogled the Ismaili girls? Boys will be boys, we grew up with a lot of these biases and misconceptions.

    “In prayer, it is better to have a heart without words, than words without a heart.”  Mahatma Gandhi
Religions also contributed to segregation and cultural isolation, among us Indians. Passing a Hindu temple, I was intrigued by the color and various images of their Gods.  Deities, with several pair of hands, and another with an Elephants head, riding a mouse. It would have been very interesting for some enlightenment. After all is said and done it was part of our heritage. We enjoyed Diwali from the sidelines. Religious, imaginary always has a meaning and would have been enriching and broadminded, to be aware of their religions significant, and representation. If a Hindu boy visited a Catholic church, saw images of Jesus Christ on the cross and Dove above His head, Angels with wings, stained glass windows of St. George and the dragon and images St. Matthew, Mark, Luke & John emblems of winged lion, winged bull, etc. and  asked me to explain, The Holy Trinity, One God, I would not know where or how to start. You know, the Muslims firmly believe that God should not be portrayed in graphic form. Sadly, the religious education I got was, “Who made you? Why did God make you?  Which we had to learn by rote.
 It was bitter pill for me to swallow when I learned of the Portuguese atrocities committed in proselytizing and bringing Christianity to Goa, where there was also a period of a painful Inquisition. It is men’s holier than thou, attituded, that causes so much strife and misery, often in the name of religion.

It was amazing to know that the Apostle, St. Thomas was in neighboring, Kerala so much earlier than St. Francis Xavier in Goa.
Sorry to go off on a tangent……..
Here is an extract from William Dalrymple’s article in the “The Guardian” on Kerala.


(Converts by St Thomas the Apostle of Jesus in Kerala)

Thomas Christians was reduced to ashes in the 16th century - not by Muslims or Hindus, but by a newly arrived European Christian power: the Portuguese. As far as the Portuguese colonial authorities were concerned, the St Thomas Christians were heretics, an idea confirmed by their belief in astrology and reincarnation, and the Hindu-style sculptures of elephants and dancing girls found carved on their crosses
 The Inquisition was brought in, and the historical records of the St Thomas Christians put to the flame. Yet the old stories did survive, locked in the minds and memories of Christians in inaccessible Keralan backwaters.
In songs and dances passed on from father to son and teacher to pupil, they preserved intact many of their most ancient traditions. Scholars now believe that if the answer to the riddle of the legends of St Thomas lies anywhere, it is in this rich and largely unstudied Keralan oral tradition.
If St Thomas had carried Christianity to India, it is likely that he would have taken a distinctly more Jewish form than the Gentile-friendly version developed for the Greeks of Antioch by St Paul and later exported to Europe. Hence the importance of the fact that some of the St Thomas Christian churches to this day retain Judeo-Christian practices long dropped in the west - such as the celebration of the solemn Passover feast.
Hence also the significance of the St Thomas Christians still using the two earliest Christian liturgies in existence: The Mass of Addai and Mari, and the Liturgy of St James, once used by the early Church of Jerusalem. More remarkable still, these ancient services are still partly sung in Aramaic, the language spoken by Jesus and St Thomas.
200 Roman trading vessels a year were making the annual journey to the bazaars of Malabar and back. More intriguing still, analysis of Roman coin hoards in India has shown that the Roman spice trade peaked exactly in the middle of the first century AD. All this showed that if St Thomas had wanted to come to India, the passage from Palestine, far from being near-impossible, would in fact have been easier, more frequent and probably cheaper than at any time in the next 1,500 years - until Vasco da Gama discovered the sea route to the Indies in 1498.

I started this opus with tongue-in-cheek, que sera, sera, attitude. It seems that the newer generation found it hard to swallow. I realise it was, probably overwhelming, tedious, long winded, and beyond their ken.

Thankfully, it is the complements that I received from friend and others who read it, was very heart-warming and up lifting, I feel very fulfilled and gratified.  There is nothing more precious, like a pat on the back, from old friends, good friends and others.

Somebody once said, “You can take us out of Kenya, but cannot take Kenya out of us.”

Thank You One & All…Very much Appreciate the encouragement I received to write these essays/.

Sincerely, Thank You So Very Much.                     

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

A celebration of Leana Arain

By Mr Jagjit Singh Alhuwalia, whose eldest brother The late Gurdial Singh Alhuwalia was one of the most prominent political and communal personalities in pre and post independent Uganda. Jagjit was a former school mate of John Noronha's and is currently a solicitor in the United Kingdom

Ladies and Gentleman, Family Friends and Members of the Second, Third and Fourth Generations of Shafiq, Leana and Gurdial’s families, we are gathered today to pay tribute to the memory of Leana Arain.  Her life and work was of course closely linked to that of her husband Shafiq and their closest friend Gurdial Singh, who was my eldest brother.  The story of their lives is basically the story of three continents, three families and the setting of the sun on an empire.

It is also the story of four generations over the period of three centuries.  It is a story stretching from the sub-continent of India to East Africa and Great Britain – the centre of the British Empire which they lived through.

So let us start at the beginning.

Leana’s father, Norman Godinho, was born in Goa, then a Portuguese enclave, on 23rd Nov 1886 and travelled to Mombasa in East Africa in 1906 as a young man aged 20, to seek his fortunes.  He worked for a while for Souza Junior Dias, a Goan businessman who ran an import/export business.  A few years later, he travelled by train to Kampala to seek his own fortune.  He ended up being one of the wealthiest businessmen and landlord owning The Speke Hotel, The Norman Cinema and Norman Godhino School. 

Shafiq and Gurdial’s fathers were contemporaries born in the 1890s and both came to Mombasa somewhere around 1915 also to seek their fortunes in East Africa.  They were both from the Punjab – Shafiq’s father from near Lahore and Gurdial’s father from Sialkot which are both now in Pakistan but were then part of the British Indian Empire.  It is believed that they both travelled on the same boat from Bombay to Mombasa and after various jobs, both ended up working for the East African Railways and Harbours.  Shafiq and Gurdial’s fathers would definitely have known about the wealthy and legendary Goan businessman, Norman Godinho, although it is not known whether they ever actually met him.

We then move onto the second generation of Shafiq, Gurdial and Leana.
Coincidentally, they were all born in the year 1933 –Gurdial in February in Kenya, Leana in March and Shafiq in November in Uganda.
 Interestingly, the one man who was to play a central role in their lives, Uganda’s future President Milton Obote was some eight years their senior and was born in Northern Uganda in 1925. Incidentally, Obote shares the same Luo tribal affiliations with Barack Obama’s father from neighbouring Kenya.

They were born and grew up in tumultuous times -  in the dying days of the British Empire. They were all aged 14 in 1947 when the British Empire in India ended with the brutal partition of India into the two independent states of Pakistan and India. The early 1960s, when they were in their late twenties, saw the emergence of the 3 East African countries as the independent states of Kenya , Uganda and Tanzania

All three of them were educated at the Old Kampala Secondary School where they built up an abiding and lifelong friendship in their early teens.
Subsequently, all three attended universities  in the UK from 1953 to 1957.

Gurdial read economics and political science at the London School of Economics and was called to the Bar at Lincolns Inn.

Shafiq was at Nottingham University where he studied English and Journalism and Leana was at Southampton where she graduated in Law and was called to the Bar at Middle Temple. It is therefore fitting and proper that this tribute should be taking place here today.

They all returned to Uganda in 1957.  Uganda was then a British Protectorate and 5 years away from becoming an independent state.

Gurdial set up the law firm, Singh & Treon, with Raj Treon in 1958 and one of his favourite stories of those early days was the fact that their net profit for their first year of practice was the princely sum of £7 - £140 Ugandan shillings.

 Shafiq together with his friends set up a magazine called “Sports” which was a novel idea in the sixties in East Africa – having a magazine dealing exclusively with news and articles about sports.
He also set up Publicity Services Ltd – an advertising agency -  which was hugely successful and his first assistant in this business was my second eldest brother, Jasbir, who is now a gynaecologist in Dallas, Texas.

Gurdial and Shafiq were also at the forefront of politics and helped set up the Uganda Action Group which was dedicated to ensuring that the Asians would throw their weight behind the call for independence and not ask for separate parliamentary representation along racial lines which was part of the British design to divide the communities and delay the move towards independence .

Leana perhaps did not even need to work at all given her family background and wealth but as a newly qualified barrister, she was determined to play her part in Ugandan affairs. 

She was the first woman barrister in East Africa.  She was later appointed as the first woman magistrate in East Africa and was also the first woman Queen’s Counsel in Uganda and East Africa.

In this, she was following the footsteps of such illustrious figures as John Nazareth QC, Fritz De Souza and Achru Kapilla, all of whom were prominent barristers and had been involved in the defence of Jomo Kenyatta in the Mau Mau Trials of 1952.

1962 saw the independence of Uganda.  Tanganika, as Tanzania was then called, led the way by becoming an independent state in 1961; Uganda followed in 1962 and Kenya, under Jomo Kenyata, became a free nation in 1963. 

The 1960’s were years of major political change and economic and social development in Uganda.  Shafiq was a member of parliament and rose to become the Minister of East African Community Affairs that oversaw the work of East African Railways and Harbours where both Shafiq and Gurdial’s fathers had once been humble employees during British rule.

Shafiq and Gurdial were both instrumental in setting up the Milton Obote Foundation – the first of its kind in Africa - and were involved in almost every facet of the political and economic development of Uganda.

Going back to their personal lives
Gurdial and Darshi were married in August 1961.  Milton Obote and Maria were married in 1965  and the following year saw the coming together of the Arain and the Godinho families when Shafiq and Leana were married in 1966.
Both of these were celebrity weddings in East Africa.

The warm friendship of the families has continued into the  third generation – with Gurdial and Darshi’s children – Hardeep, Baldeep and Kamaldeep and Shafiq and Leana’s children – Mona, Selma and Sasha.

The families fortunes came to an abrupt halt in January 1971 with the coup staged by Idi Amin with the connivance and active assistance of  Israel and Britain.  Shafiq and Leana then moved to London and Gurdial and Darshi and their extended family moved to India.  They continued to assist President Obote to overthrow the military regime of Idi Amin and this was finally successful in December 1979 when, with the assistance of the Tanzanian army, Amin was overthrown. 

Both Gurdial and Shafiq were with Obote in their triumphant march with the armed forces from Bushenyi in December 1979 to Kampala when Idi Amin was overthrown

Elections were held and Obote’s party, UPC, the Uganda People’s Congress  was returned to power.

 In 1980 Shafiq was appointed Uganda’s High Commissioner to London and Gurdial was appointed High Commissioner to New Delhi. Both were the closest confidantes of President Obote.

Ten years of Amin’s brutal rule however were difficult to overcome and Uganda was torn apart by military and tribal conflicts.  The Government was overthrown again in 1985 and Obote went into exile in Zambia.

Following their move to London 1971, Leana had started practising law in London as a barrister.  She was instrumental In setting up the Commonwealth and Ethnic Barristers’ Association in the 1970s which was later renamed The Commonwealth  - in England Barristers’ Association (CEBA).

During the 1980’s when Shafiq was Uganda’s High Commissioner in London, Leana also helped to found what has now become a very successful charity for differently enabled children in Uganda and East Africa generally.  This is the highly successful charity now known as AbleChildAfrica.

Going back to the families, the third generation – the children of Shafiq and Leana and of Gurdial and Darshi are now all  professionally qualified and living in different parts of the world - Mona graduated from Edinburgh and with her husband, Stefan, now runs a hotel and restaurant business in Spain.

Selma graduated from Sussex in languages, married Mark Crawley and has a homeopathy practice in London .  Sasha graduated in Law from Surrey and is a property developer in Arizona.

 As for Gurdial and Darshi’s children :  Hardeep studied medicine in Bangalore, Baldeep graduated in economics and commerce from Chandigarh and they both run the family business in Delhi and Kamaldeep read law at Newcastle and practices in London. 

Proudly, the family association continues into the fourth generation – Shafiq and Leana’s three grandchildren – Cassim, Mahalia and Luka and Gurdial and Darshi’s nine grandchildren who are all at various universities in India, America and England. 

This is therefore the story of four generations of the three families – the Godinhos, the Arains and the Singhs - over a period of three centuries and spread out over three countries at the time the sun was beginning to set over the British Empire.
The Inscription on Leana’s father’s tombstone in Kampala reads:
Sweet is the memory/silently kept/of one we loved / and will never forget.
These words apply equally well to Leana

A few weeks before his death in November 2005, Gurdial had put up a poem by Rabindranath Tagore on the notice board in his office which read:

“Death is not the extinguishing of light
It is merely putting out the lamp
Because dawn has arrived.”
By a strange coincidence, the main political players in  this story  all passed away in 2005.  Shafiq in Marbella, Spain in March, Milton Obote in Johannesburg on 9 October (Uganda’s independence day) and Gurdial in Delhi in November in 2005.


In a poem about the death of his father, Dylan Thomas wrote:

“Do not go gentle into that goodnight:
Rage, rage, against the dying of the light”.

In the case of Gurdial , Shafiq and Leana, we can comfortably say that there is no need to rage against the dying of the light.  Their lives were lived to the full and they are a shining example of service to their fellow humans.

Shafiq and Gurdial achieved a high measure of success in their chosen fields, in law, politics, diplomacy and in serving the country of their  birth at the highest levels. 

Leana achieved many firsts – as the first woman barrister, magistrate and Queen’s Counsel in Uganda and East Africa.  She did sterling work together with other like-minded people, in setting up CEBA in the 1970s and the charity AbleChildAfrica in the 1980s.
There is therefore no need for them or us to rage against the dying of the light because for them as for Tagore, death is not the extinguishing of light;
it is merely putting out the lamp because for them a new dawn has arrived – in their personal evolutionary journey back to their creator – which is the true meaning and purpose of human life.

In writing about his wife, the American Poet, E E Cummings, once wrote:

I carry your heart/ I carry it in my heart.

All those whose lives were improved and enriched by the works of these three people, Gurdial, Shafiq and Leana and, in particular, the differently abled children who are the beneficiaries of the charity that Leana helped to found and sustain – Able Child Africa, will all be able to say:

We carry your heart / We carry it in our hearts.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Family Friends: Thank you !


  This invaluable collection of photos was sent to me by David Mungai. He says it is “for the acknowledgement of Kenyan History, the celebra...