Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Lewis De Souza: DRGS tribute

Lewis De Souza

Lewis De Souza, Chairman of Visit Africa, Ltd., a leading bespoke, luxury safari tour operator passed away peacefully on April 23, 2019 in Nairobi, Kenya.  He is survived by his beloved wife, Antoinette and daughter, Heather-Gail.  Son of the late Apolinario and late Martinha De Souza, brother to Pam (Denzil) D'Costa,  Olegario (Melania) and Simon (Celsa).  Lewis was passionate about all things Kenyan and the perfect ambassador always promoting Kenya's nature conservancies and breathtaking landscapes.  A warm, kind, generous and hospitable man, he will be greatly missed by family, friends, employees and visitors, alike.

A Funeral Mass will be held at 10:00 am on April 27, 2019 at the Consolata Shrine, Westlands, Nairobi, followed by interment/cremation at the Kariokor Crematorium. The family wish to thank the staff of the Aga Khan Hospital, Nairobi, especially Dr. Rajendra Chauhan and Dr. Sangeeta Chauhan for their unfailing care, love and compassion and friends and employees for their support and comfort during Lewis' final days.



My Dad, Lewis
By Heather-Gail De Souza

I started working with my Dad 10 years ago when I returned to Kenya after studying and working abroad.  I have had a front-row seat to observe and learn the ropes of running and managing a successful company from 'The Master'.  My Dad was a humble and ethical man who stressed the importance of being diligent, transparent and trustworthy and earned not only the respect of the business community but also of his employees, many who have kept faithful vigil at his hospital bed for the past few weeks.

My Dad was a very loving family man who showered my Mum and me with abundance.  He enjoyed his leisure time at home in the company of my Mum and his dogs and cat.  He had a passion for good food......prawns, cheese, pate and most of all, chocolates.  He also loved the finer things in life and ensured that he had the latest aftershave lotions and well-tailored Italian slacks.  From a young age, he developed a love of automobiles and was so very proud of his fleet of 23 top-of-the-line Toyota Highlander vehicles and personally oversaw their maintenance and road worthiness. His attention to detail was inspiring. 

Although he was born and bred in Kenya, Dad never forgot his Goan heritage.....he kept up with Goan politics and made sure he introduced me to every person from Anjuna, his village in Goa!  He also spent a fair amount of his free time keeping tabs on his school's Alumni Association and supporting their endeavors whenever possible.

I am very grateful to my dad for having made me what I am. From small beginnings, assisted with Mum's career and expertise in the travel business, he has left us with a business that is booming. Almost a year ago, recognizing the need to pass the torch, Dad appointed me to the position of Managing Director at Visit Africa Limited.  I will be so proud to carry on my darling Dad's legacy but I have to admit, it will be somewhat bittersweet because I will forever miss working side by side with him.

Dad, you did good and we are very proud of your achievements.


It's not about the cards you're dealt, 
but how you play the hand

For many the recognition of our life purpose may elude us for a significant portion of our lives.  For Lewis, it appears his life's journey was emblazoned at an early age. 

Lewis was born and educated in Nairobi but it was his family's move to Kibwezi where his father managed a sisal plantation, that further informed his future and highly successful venture into the safari tour business.  Kibwezi is located roughly midway between Mombasa and Nairobi and his parent's home became a favorite 'watering hole' for family, friends and acquaintances travelling between the two locations.  His family's hospitality and generosity to visitors is legendary and clearly was an example that Lewis would emulate in his personal and professional life.  Growing up in the backdrop of world renowned Tsavo National Park with its stunning vistas, Lewis developed a deep love and appreciation for the region's people and culture, the wildlife, the habitat and the ongoing challenges of maintaining the delicate balance of Kenya's wildlife heritage, its growing population and its vital tourism industry

Lewis started his working career managing a gas station in Kibwezi.  Not only did this brief stint match his passion for cars and appreciation for the wear and tear and maintenance of rugged off-terrain vehicles but it also developed and fine-tuned his talent for working with people from all walks of life.  

In subsequent years, Lewis worked in different capacities for various tourism-based companies where he obtained valuable insight and hands-on experience in Kenya's tourism industry.  In 1984 he started Visit Africa Limited with an aim to offer clients a highly customized and personalized service to the multi-cultural tourist.  From small beginnings, his company has grown into a renowned international business with satisfied clients from different parts of the world with a high percentage of repeat business.  Visit Africa Ltd. celebrated its 35th anniversary this year and Lewis handed over the reins to his beloved daughter, Heather, who is well qualified to take the company to another level......after all, she had the best mentor.

Lewis will be remembered for being the perfect ambassador for Kenya......he had an unabashed passion for all things Kenyan, developed solid roots in the country he loved, understood the people, animals and the environment which he proudly promoted at every opportunity.  To his family and friends he was always the consummate gentleman, a kind and generous spirit who made significant contributions to Parklands School and the Dr. Ribeiro Goan School Alumni Association.  He will be sorely missed and the world will be a poorer place without him.

From the DRGS website

Norman and Delphine with Lewis in the lobby of the New Stanley Hotel in Nairobi last September.

      Farewell Lewis.

Delphine and I are so glad that we met with an old friend and an ex-Dr. Ribeiro Goan School schoolmate in Nairobi in September of 2018 after a break of several years. Lewis and his daughter Heather meticulously planned our safari involving game parks in Tanzania, Kenya and Zanzibar and provided us with first-class accommodations at top lodges. They exceeded our expectations and then, again, we expected nothing short from an old schoolmate who over the years established Visit Africa as one of the top travel agencies in Africa. Lewis and his wife Antoinette, a classmate, have always been very supportive of any alumni endeavours, including outfitting the field with golf shirts for our Dr Ribeiro’s Goan School ex-students tournaments in Toronto on two occasions. Lewis was a big-hearted guy and all of his friends, clients and his excellent staff will miss him dearly. He passed on the torch to his daughter Heather and I am sure she will continue his legacy as she was trained by the best – her father. Our deepest sympathies go out to Antoinette and Heather.      

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