Sunday, May 31, 2020

Walter Fernandes: Out of Africa, unforgettable moments

 Pictured with Walter are Godfrey Rodrigues (brother of hockey Olympian Danny Rodrigues) Rosario Rosa (photographer) , Peter Couthinho , and Hilary Carasco .

STOP PRESS: Death: Alberto Rodrigues. Ex Nairobi

29 May: Bambolim, Goa. ALBERTO RODRIGUES. Born May 1925. Ex Nairobi. It is with great sadness that we announce the death of Alberto Rodrigues following a short illness some days after celebrating his 95th birthday. In 1955 Alberto took over management of the famous Sequeira’s Bar opposite Jeevanjee Gardens in Nairobi from his father and ran the business until it closed in the late 1970s. He was a passionate amateur musician and enjoyed playing the violin and singing. He was well known in Nairobi musical circles and among music lovers in Goa following his retirement there in later years. He will be sadly missed by his surviving brother Scipiao and his many nieces and nephews and their families who held him in great affection. Due to lockdown restrictions a small funeral service took place in Alto Porvorim on 2nd June when he was laid to rest with his beloved wife Iva who passed away in October 2018. Condolences to Goan Voice UK


Making music



I WAS born in Nairobi, Kenya in 1941. My first love in music was the drums but fate took another hand as I will explain. When I was around 6 years of age, I was struck by then the relatively unknown disease, polio. I was paralyzed in the leg whilst my sister Thelma was affected in the left hand.  I was surprised one day when my dad surprised me with a drum set.  Being still unable to use one leg, dad would rent the set to a Goan band for 50 shillings. Unfortunately, after a few rentals, one drum came back home with a large hole. That did it, he promptly sold it. I was very, very fortunate to recover from polio.

I attended Dr Ribeiro Goan School. One Saturday my dad returned from an auction with a violin that he purchased for 12 shillings and 50 cents.    My musical career kicked off the next Monday when dad arranged for me to be tutored by A.R. Da Costa who was the choirmaster at St. Francis Church. 

Sometime in 1957, Dr Ribeiro Goan School  Ex-Students awarded me a bursary together with the  Diana D`Souza, Rudolf Gonsalves and Leandro Saldana to study music at the East African Conservatoire of Music where I initially was coached by Nat Kofsky and then Anthony Alvares, a brilliant violinist.

Following that, I won at the Kenya Festival of Music the best violinist under the age of 16 and was very proud to be presented with the trophy by the Governor-General Sir Evelyn Baring.

Dad would make me practice 5 hours a day come whatever, so by the age of 18  was pretty good. Having completed school in 1957, I played as a second violist with The Nairobi Orchestra and in the orchestra at various musical plays brought up by City Players.

I had the pleasure to get to know prominent Goan Musicians well known to the Nairobi musical circles. They were Anthony  Alvares, Anthony Noronha (better known as Oboe ), Albert Rodrigues (Viola), Luis Pires (Violinist) Guilherme Pires (Bass).

On July 20th 1966, a farewell recital was organized for Anthony (Oboe) Noronha at the residence of J. M. Nazareth Q.C. Oboe had sacrificed so much of his time promoting music within the Goan community.  For years, he conducted the junior orchestra.  At this farewell recital, nearly every known Goan musician took part.  Oboe soon left for the UK where he, unfortunately, passed away.

In 1984,  I was running my own video business. On this particular day a woman, unknown to me, walked into my office, asked me if I was Walter, then asked me if I would like to take part in a movie that was going to be shot in Nairobi. I said yes, after which she asked me if I could arrange for a Goan drummer and pianist. I arranged for Clifford D`Souza who is an excellent pianist and Ronny Coutinho, drummer.  It turned out to be  Out of Africa with Merle Streep and Robert Redford. This movie won 9 academy awards. (The film clip will be on my FB page, Blogger down seem to allow it, Cyprian).

Isabella Wise nee de Souza: Sadly, Albert Rodrigues, the violinist mentioned passed away in Goa on March 29 2020. RIP>

Unknown: Isabella, Albert was a great violinist. Very often Albert with Anthony Alvares, Pires (second violin), Albert (viola)... I forget the fourth, would play quartets. Sorry to hear of Albert's passing. Cyprian Fernandes: This was the golden age of classical Goan music in Kenya.

Unknown: Going through my files I found  a copy of "A FAREWELL CONVERT TO OBOE". The concert took place at the home of JM Nazerath QC on July 20 1968 and included sopranos Helen de Souza and Euphemia Fernandes. Brought tears to my eyes. Oboe taught me chess.




  1. It is with great sadness I report that my uncle Albert Rodrigues, violinist mentioned in this article, just passed away on 29 March 2020 in Goa.

  2. Isabella , Albert was a great Violist . He and Anthony Alvares were good buddies . Very often he with Anthony Alvares (!st violin , Pires (2nd Violin) Albert(Viola) and I forget the fourth , would play in quartets . Sorry to hear he just past .

  3. skiprod@telus.netJune 1, 2020 at 1:17 AM

    I remember Walter and Leandro Saldanha as being the shining hopes for the future of Goan classical music. The quartet mentioned above, consisted of Alberto Rodrigues,recently deceased, the 2nd. violin, Anthony Alvares, elder brother of the much better known jazz trumpeter Auggie Alvares, played lead violinist. |Aires Campos played viola and Braz Rodrigues, Alberto's brother played Cello. This group was also joined on various occasions by Walter, Leandro, Louis Pires, (violin), his bro. Gilbert, (Bass) Dominic de Souza (violin) and Ilda Noronha (Anthony, Oboe Noronha's wife.) Little known fact was that the late Alberto Rod. was a very proficient baritone singer who on one occasion won the Rose Bowl and a number of other trophies at the Kenya Music Festival. Those were Happy Times. Thank you Walter for bringing backthose great days.\

  4. Going through my files I found a copy of `A FAREWELL CONCERT TO OBOE` .The concert took place at the residence of J.M. Nazereth Q.C. on the 20thJuly 1966 . Taking part were all you named plus Helen De Souza and Euphemia (Sopranos) Brought tears to me because at a very early age Oboe taught me chess .

  5. Well done Walter! All the best!



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