Thursday, October 21, 2021

A self-made Goan news/sports photographer: Emiliano Joanes

 

Emiliano Joanes

Have camera, will shoot


A Masai woman arrives to collect water during a drought and finds the river bed dry
 

Two Masai women collect water while their mules wait patiently in the hot sun to carry the water to the village (boma)

By Emiliano Joanes

I wanted to get into photojournalism by working for the English newspaper, the East African Standard but it meant asking God to change my skin pigmentation. However, I decided to take sports pictures of the English playing rugby, cricket, and soccer.

Fortunately, for me the newspaper showed English sport taking place on a weekend.

I went to the club on Ngong Road where a rugby match was in progress. From the road, I looked to see if there was a photographer taking pictures. No one. I moved close to the field.

The good thing about rugby one can get bags of action shots. I had no clue how the game was played. What captured my imagination were the moments when the players formed a circle bending, facing the ground clinging to each with ball hidden between the arms and chests.

Next thing you knew the circle exploded like an atomic mushroom with the ball tossed high in the sky with the players making a grab for it. I aimed for that picture, got it, besides other midfield action shots, went home, set up the darkroom in the bathroom. I printed three action shots one was the circle that I came to know later was called the “scrum.”

On Sunday, I presented my pictures to John Downes the Sports Editor who introduced himself to me later said, “Did you take these pictures?” I replied yes. He looked at the pictures again and the contact sheet and asked again, “Did you take these pictures?” Again, I spoke the truth, but I added, “I could not write the captions and I did not know how the game was played.” By this time, I was prepared to swear on the Bible that I did take the pictures. “Leave it to me.” he said. The prints and contact sheet were curling because I had hung them on the clothesline to dry.

Next day, I saw my picture of the scrum on the sports page of the East African Standard.

I did a cricket match the following weekend. After that, at a soccer match. When I saw an East African Standard photographer, I made a complete U-turn and headed home.

John Downes told me that in the future he would tell what sports event he wanted me to cover. He also gave me letter to show to anyone who would not allow me to take pictures. The best part of it was to hand him the film that was processed in the newspaper darkroom. That was a relief!

A couple of months later, I received a letter from Kenneth Bolton, the editor asking would I be interested in joining the photographic team and if so, to go for an interview with John Perry, The Chief Photographer. As the saying goes, next it was history.

Working among a sea of white journalists was challenging. I assumed that they wanted to see If I met the challenge. I did better.

Two years down the road, I had two pictures in the World Press Photo competition on a photo essay I did on a drought in a Masai village. I also had a picture in the British Press Pictures of the Year competition an essay on ostriches in the Nairobi National Park.

What I found amusing was my picture of Nairobi University student riots that I entered in the Pravda newspaper that won a prize – 500 rubbles. The picture was of mounted police raising the front hoofs of his horse that I shot of the students between the legs of the horse. I think this was more for propaganda that the photo was selected.  

Africanization was in full force at the newspaper. All the English reporters and editors left.

I left the newspaper and emigrated to Canada when I could hear the drums of uhuru playing in the distant horizon.

The historic Jazz Swingers of Dar es Salaam




 

Jazz Swingers of Dar es Salaam

 

Dar es Salaam (Abode of Peace) was founded my Sultan Majid Bin Said in 1865, give or take a year or so. Very much like the magical island of Zanzibar (island of black people), Dar has always fascinated anyone who has heard of it, read about it, or was told about it the first time. Over the next few days, I hope to bring you some historic stories and photos about the Goans of Zanzibar. Thanks to Kenneth Mascarenhas for collecting material (from a brochure for the GI's golden anniversary) from Mervyn Lobo who lives in the US. The first is a brief history of the once famed G.I. Jazz Swingers by Banu Colaco.

 

At the New Year’s Eve function on December 31, 1947, more than 500 members and their families came to the Goan Institute, only to discover that the band hired for the occasion had not turned up. I had migrated from India earlier that year and played the drums and the violin for the Dar es Salaam Goan Musical and Dramatic Society. In desperation, the Management Committee asked me for my help and I scraped a group together, went back home for our instruments and began playing just after 10 pm. Our group had Jerry Luis on his accordion, Jimmy Fernandes on guitar, Lacy (Brandy) Caldeira on drums and I on violin. We had the crowd dancing till the early hours of the morning.

As the function was a huge success, the then president asked if I could form a band to play regularly at club functions. I agreed and persuaded the Management Committee to spend the then princely sum of 10,000 shillings for the purchase of a new piano and drum set. Thus, the GI Jazz Swingers band was formed. The initial group consisted of Jerry Luis (accordion), Tony Ferns (piano), his brother Neri (drums), Jimmy Fernandes (guitar) and myself (violin). The following year my brother Paxy (who had come from India) joined us and in 1950 we were joined by Manu Rodrigues. Manu played a sweet violin and arranged the music, but it was his delightful crooning that won him many admirers, mainly female.

Over the years that followed, there were many comings and goings and Jazz Swingers moved from being a string band to a swing outfit.

As the popularity of the Jazz Swingers grew, the band’s services were sought by various other organisations and clubs. For a while we had a monthly contract with the Tanganyika Broadcasting Corporation. However, the gig (engagement) that brought the Jazz Swingers’ name into the forefront was our weekly gig at the “Ocean Breeze” which was the city’s most popular restaurant and nightclub.

In 1959, (I remember them in Nairobi) the Jazz Swingers together with their families toured Kenya and Uganda and played at the Goan Institutes in Mombasa, Nairobi, Kampala and Entebbe.

With the advent of the 1960s, the band started to break up and eventually disbanded as some of its members were transferred from Dar es Salaam and others migrated to Canada, the USA and elsewhere.

However, we had a few last hurrahs. In 1984, Terence Pereira, who was the President of the Organising Committee for the annual Tanzanite Dance, persuaded members of the Jazz Swingers who were resident in Toronto (viz Manu Rodrigues, Jerry Luis, Nelson Fernandes, Luis Pereira, Paxy Colaco and myself and Gil Vaz who was visiting from the US to get together and play few sets at the function.

The GI Jazz Swingers are proud to have been part of the history of the Dar es Salaam Goan Institute.

The above piece was part of a congratulatory message on occasion of the Dar es Salaam Goan Institute’s Platinum Jubilee.


The history of the Jazz musicians of Dar es Salaam is captured beautifully in a book:

Waiting for the Sunrise
Goan Jazz Musicians in Dar es Salaam
by Judy Luis-Watson

Waiting for the Sunrise by Judy Luis-Watson is now available at Amazon.com (in both print and ebook versions). For buyers based in India, we recommend you order via Goa,1556. Details from jazzgoandar at gmail.com In Goa, a special print edition is also available via goa1556@gmail.com


Goss from a very long time ago …

Wonder if anyone can remember some of these!

(THIS excerpt from a Dar GI celebratory brochure will probably fuzzle minds of folks who are not familiar with the vintage. I reproduce it in honour of the folks gone past and a remembrance of the ways it used to be.)

 

Do you know that…

The Alexandra Cinema Hall, where the first two general meetings were held, was situated at the corner of Makuganya and India streets … we still talk shop there, don’t we?

Two gold crosses were buried in the premises of the Institute, one each occasion of the two foundation-laying-ceremonies … no treasure hunt please, lest we should lose our only means of a redemption!

The first streams of what is now the St Francis Xavier’s School, Chagombwe, were conducted in the premises of the old building on this site … quite naturally, as it has always been the aim of the Institute to promote intellectual activities!

A very elderly founder-member resident in Dar es Salaam, Mr A M Madeira (ex-Customs) now runs the Institute Bar … excise and tariffs come to him naturally.

Another founder member, Mr A E L Fernandes, has gone into farming … stronger foundation in self-reliance.

Chartered Architect Tony Almeida had said that the present building of the Institute was of a quality, that would need no apology anywhere in the world … of course, a thing of beauty, is a joy forever.

There were 620 children in the age group 1-12 years for the Christmas party in the Institute Hall last year … there were many more outside awaiting entry into that age-group.

It is customary to celebrate the anniversary of the Institute on the occasion of New Year’s Eve …ah ha, so that is the origin of the two free drinks … and then after killing two birds with one stone can it be said that we are not frugal in spirit?

Head Steward Mohamed Athmani (alias Fupi) is now 49 years old and has been in the service of the Institute for 31 years … he is heading for a double golden (or a golden double).

Mr Dominique De Souza designed the cover of this brochure (on the occasion of an anniversary celebration is presume) take a bow, Dominique, take a bow.

And finally, do you know that we are 50 years old today? You don’t say! Well happy birthday then, ad multos annos and all that, and lead us Kindly Light, onwards to a diamond and platinum. S.Z.S.


 

Monday, October 18, 2021

Goan Estate: remembered with pride (special photographs).

THERE ARE many Goans, once the younger generation but today the older generation, who will remember with pride the Goan Housing Estate in Pangani, Kenya. The estate, if I am right, was the initiative of the Kenya Goan Association. Like everything else Goan, the estate was cause for celebration but had its detractors. I think it was originally going to be called the Dr Ribeiro Goan Estate. It never happened.

From another friend: "The Goan Estate only became a reality solely because of the determined lobbying efforts of the late Dr A C L desousa. Dr Ribeiro had absolutely no part in the venture. It was Dr desousa's brainchild. He lobbied Dr Gregory, the Mayor of Nairobi in 1955, to secure the land, secure funding, etc, and created the Goan Estate consisting of 26 semi-detached homes a reality.

"An official opening ceremony was held the centre oval. Dr Gregory was the guest of honour and the estate was named The Dr desousa Goan Estate. However, the brahmins of the estate objected to the naming and boycotted the ceremony. They went as far as hanging black flags from their balconies. They conveniently forgot that without Dr desousa, there never would have been a Goan Estate in the first place."

I thought the Goans who lived in the estate were a pretty happy lot. Sometimes, time does make liars of us all. They belonged to the Nairobi Goan Institute, the Railway Goan Institute or the Nairobi Goan Gymkhana. They worshiped at either the St Teresa's church in Eastleigh ( a 10 or 15 minute walk) or the St Francis Xavier's Church at the start of Forest Road and a stone's throw from perhaps the best Goan initiative, the Dr Ribeiro Goan School.

One way or another there was plenty to be cheerful and celebrate about this group of Goans who lived a few steps away from another group: the Goans who lived in the Nairobi City Council flats which have since been raised recently and in their place more than 1000 flats are being built.

As time continues to march on, so does the memory of the Goans who gave so much to the building of modern Kenya.

I am indebted to Tony Reg D'Souza, Eva Fonseca, Antonio Desousa, Filandro Fernandes and a few other people who have helped to remember the Goans who lived in the estate. I am sure there will be one or two or three names missed from the list below and I will update them as I soon as I am advised.

Today, there are still a couple of Goan families still living in the estate. We are not done yet!

The Goan Estate had at its heart a rectangle (some said it was a triangle) and all the houses faced this green playground. Twenty-six families purchased homes here, two to each block.

 

In the last block in this line were Mr. & Mrs. Peter D'Costa, Edward, Gladys, Glafira, Guenivera, Benjamin, George and Gileta.  To their right were Mr. & Mrs. Botelho, Joy, Grace, Ruby and Jude.
Next door to them in the next block were Mr. & Mrs. Francis D'Cruz, Valerie, Clive and Desmond

To their right, in the next block, were Mr. & Mrs. Francis D'Cruz, Valerie, Clive and Cedric and on their right was Mrs. Rosendo and her 2 daughters (her husband died a few years after they moved in.

To their right, I think it was Mario and Wavell and family on the left side and on their right were Mr. & Mrs. Remedios, Joyce, Jean, Marian, Joseph and Morris.

To the right of the Remedios home and the last one on this line were Belinda and her family and I do not remember who their neighbor was.

Now to the next line on the left-hand side of the estate were Mr. & Mrs. John Nazareth, Olga, Paul, Ophelia, Sonny and Olivia and to their left were Mr. & Mrs. Monteiro and their daughter.  

To the Monteiro's left were the Abreu family and in their block were Mr. & Mrs. J C J Dias, Ivera & Ino.  Mr Dias was a school committee member.

In the next block were Mr. & Mrs. Costa Correia and family and Marilia Pegado and family.

Next to the Pegado's were Mr. & Mrs. Fernandes, Armando, Renato and Vera and next door were the Martrys family.  

There were two families next to the Martrys' home in the last block on this side (sorry can’t remember the names).

On to the third line, were Mr. & Mrs. Tavares (headmaster/teacher at Dr Ribeiro Goan School) and family, their next-door neighbors were Manny Rodrigues and family.

In the next block were the D'Mello family, and their next-door neighbor was Mr. & Mrs. Anthony D'Souza and family (teacher at DRGS).

To their left in the next block were Mr. & Mrs. J F D'Souza, Victor, Henry and next door, were Mr. & Mrs. Borges with their 2 daughters. 

In the last block on this side were the Quadros family and next door were Mr. & Mrs. Felix Noronha, Sonya, June and Fernanda. 


COMMENTS:

CLIFFORD COSTA CORREA: Thank you for your blog and sharing these pictures. The Goan Estate was a fun place to live and it was indeed a very close community. Many of us that lived in the Goan Estate moved to the UK, Canada, USA & Australia but many of us remain in touch, thanks in a large part to Filandru Fernandes who from time to time organizes "Zoom calls" and we get a chance to talk about the "fun time" we had growing up in the Goan Estate. The Goan Estate looks different now but these pictures brought back fond memories and I am impressed that Tony, Eva, Anto and Fil were able to identify virtually all the residents in the Estate. The only one I would question was the house next to Anthony D'Souza, I thought it was Walter D'Cruz but I could be wrong! Thanks again, great memories!

The photographs below have been provided by Eva's friend Baldip Khan, a classmate from Dr Ribeiro's. She still live in Kenya.












The last two pictures are pure nostalgia!





 



Wednesday, October 6, 2021

Yesterday at The Nation


A review by Malik Merchant

Yesterday at The Nation, may soon be available to the public.


Highlight and click

 https://simerg.com/2020/08/27/former-daily-nation-chief-reporter-produces-a-special-souvenir-to-commemorate-60th-anniversary-of-paper-founded-by-his-highness-the-aga-khan/

Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Redevelopment of Pangani Goan Estate

PANGANI GOAN ESTATE

I was misled by the project developers. I am sorry I got it wrong.

Tony Reg D’Souza was first to point out that the photos did not match our memories of the original Goan Estate. I misled him because I could not think that the project could have got it so wrong. Anyway, a friend, sent me this note: 

In regard to the Goan estate...  It is still there and the flats behind the club have been brought down. Those were the Nairobi City Council flats and also had a number of Goan families living there up to the mid-1970s. My husband and his family are part of the Goan Estate. This estate is still there with two Goan families.




The original Goan Estate had 48 houses; the new development will house 1560 apartments! The social and common facilities that will be incorporated in the project include;

·         Social Hall

·         Gymnasium

·         Squash Court Club House

·         Children’s playing ground

·         Beautifully landscaped gardens

·         Perimeter wall

·         Manned gate

·         Ample Parking (3 basements over 75% of the site)

·         High speed elevators

·         Commercial center

·         Nursery School



 


Artists Bird View impression of the completed development

 

For further info, please visit:

https://nairobi.go.ke/pangani-affordable-housing-project-update/

 

 

https://stimainvestment.co.ke/images/downloads/pangani_project/Pangani_Heights_communication.pdf

 

 

https://www.standardmedia.co.ke/nairobi/article/2001417176/city-hall-pledges-1042-affordable-houses- by-december



 

 


Compiled by Eng. Arshad Khan, MSc, BSc, DIC, CEng, FIStructE, FICE, MIEK, REng, Nairobi, 14th September 2021



View from the 20th level roof of Block 1


  

Liberty Cinema on left and Pangani (Duchess of Gloucester) Girls School on right (arrowed)



Google Earth Image April 2020




Sunday, October 3, 2021

Goans who excelled in Kenya


I AM trying to put together a list of names of those Goans who excelled in Colonial Civil Service in Kenya, private enterprise, teaching, and every other employment, trade or profession in Kenya. This is a sidebar to the main story which will be headed: How Goans helped develop the various aspects of Kenya: 1860 (or 1857) to 1966. This is not a high brow exercise, anyone can feature on this list no matter what the job.

Please send me your contribution: skipfer43@gmail.com


Dr ACL De Sousa CBE

MERVYN MACIEL, Executive Officer, Provincial Admin:

1.Pascoal D'Mello, MBE, originally held position of P.C.'s Clerk in Mombasa later rose to Establishment Officr in the Secretariat.

2.D.F. da Lima, MBE, P.C.'s Clerk (should have been designated Personal Asst. to the
Provincial Commissioner) in Isiolo, N.F.D. Later rose to Revenue Officer in Kisumu.

3.Sally Mendes, MBE, P.C.'s clerk, Kisuu(Nyanza Province). A very modest individual
                                     who helped alot of Goans.

4.Germanno Gomes-  Held various clerical positions in various districts. Was more of a
                                    P.A. to Provincial/District Commissioners. Never suffered fools gladly!

5.Victor Fernandes     District Cashier in various districts. A very efficient individual.

6.S.F. Braganca         Clerk in Provincial Administration,Mombasa and various districts.

6.Basil D'Souza         Formerly Police clerk, later, Revenue Officer in the Prov.Administration

7.Joe Aguiar               Cashier, South Nyanza District

8. JF Andrade            A veteran of the frontier,Cashier at Voi.Great company for his age.
                                  Loved shooting game and was an accurate shot!

9.Silwyn Pinto           District Cashier in Voi. Likeable man.

10.Ignatius Carvalho Initial Provinciaal Relief Clerk,Coast Province,latterly
                                  District Cashier, Kajiado and other districts. Lovely man.

11. John Pereira       District Cashier, Isiolo. Great company

12.Thomas Fernandes  Transport Clerk, Isiolo, NFD(son of Goan pioneer businessman)

Some non-Provincial Administration names that come to
mind as I day dream.....:

1. Hector Moraes  Establishment/Personnel Officer, Agriculture Dept

2. Joe Fonseca, Accountant, Ministry of Agriculture

3. Rosendo Abreu - Senior official(can't remember his title) Prisons Dept

4. Mariano da Gama   Accountant, Prisons Department

5. Dourado (can't recall initials) - Senior man in Police headquarters

6. A.B. Rego-   Government Coast Agent, Mombasa

7. There was also a Mr. Lacerda high up in the Medical dept

8.Cyprian Lobo -Asst. Director of Education (Asian)

9. Jock Sequeira  - Education Officer, Mombasa

(BTW on the Prov. Administration there was
 Peter de Souza - Revenue Officer - an outspoken man and a friend.)

Education

John Gomes, Educator/Headmaster/Humanist: Grand Old Warrior of Kenya


Monday, September 27, 2021

The Shiftars: RIP Benny Mascarenhas

 


The Shiftars, a rocking great band

By Cecilia Mascarenhas

 

 

Early last year Cyprian Fernandes (Skip) was in contact as he was doing true life stories for his blog and book on bands and musicians from East Africa, and wanted a story on The Shiftars, the 1960's band from Mombasa. Unfortunately, I could not do it in time for publication.  But here it is for those interested. 

 

Everyone who remembers The Shiftars ask me if they would reunite again...I doubt it though hope they will one day!  Their interests are so diverse now besides living far apart, it might prove to be a mammoth task!   Besides Benny is a firm believer that, despite having music in one's genes/ blood, it is the diligence of practise, that ensures - “the fit of all players in a band should be tight and in sync” – compatibility, when producing music and sounds, like those that made them famous in their youth in Mombasa, as without that, the music will just not sound right.

 

A personal photo book was gifted to the band boys when they turned around 65!  A kind of “Thank you” for the memories …  which was also shared with a few close friends!  This was to give some pleasure in rekindling thoughts and memories of their music as well as the pleasant times of our youth, the wonderful days of being teenagers dancing to the music of The Shiftars!  

 

Some of this material is adapted here as well as from an article I wrote for The Goan/Sacred Heart School’s 75th Anniversary Souvenir Brochure in 2007 since all the boys were educated there.  

 


 

The Shiftars group was formed sometime circa early 1964 by Benny Mascarenhas (lead guitar), along with Dominic Noronha (rhythm guitar), Polly (Pauly) Dias (bass guitar) and Rudi Lopes (drums), who were from the Class of ’65 with their Manager Victor De Souza, being from Class of ‘64 of The Goan/Sacred Heart School in Mombasa.  Their interest in music started early, influenced with the advent of electric guitars and the new sounds/ beats of Cliff Richard and The Shadows, who had taken the world by storm and created a new Kenyan generation when they visited Nairobi on their tour to South Africa.    

The aptly named film and song “The Young Ones” was just what the young ones growing up in the early 60’s needed, to infuse their youth!!

 

Benny at the age of 12, always had an interest in music, and whilst his father Joaquim played the violin, and his older brothers Lambert (violin), Leslie (trumpet) & Philip (trumpet) were musically minded, he preferred the guitar.  So to encourage his interest, his parents bought him a simple acoustic guitar from a store in Makupa.  Later, influenced by Hank Marvin and The Shadows No. 1 hit “Apache”, he and his friend Basil D’souza built themselves a guitar in the shape of Hank’s “Fender Stratocaster” and for “electrification”, pinched the mouth-peace from a local public telephone booth.  Benny twanged his way practising different technics and sounds, and by the age of 15, was recruited to play with a band named Conny Kit & The Pirates.  Encouraged by his dedication, his Mum, Maggie, bought him his first pukka electric guitar “Elite”.  The band consisted of Conny Telles, Joey Costa Correia, Benny, and Lamartin D'Souza.  

 

When the band was offered a contract in Italy, Benny was not able go with them as he needed to complete his schooling education and so gave his silver band jacket to Leslie Peters (cousin of Joey Peters of The Bandits) who was then additionally recruited to the group.  In Italy, the band renamed themselves The Bushmen but disbanded a few years later. 

 

So, as he was not able to go to Italy, Benny then decided to form his own band with his classmates who were as keen as he was to emulate the sound of The Shadows and Cliff, especially after their visit to Kenya, thus the formation of The Shiftars.  Dominic on rhythm, had the voice and looks of the young Cliff Richard and Benny, influenced by Hank Marvin, had the similar twang of the Fender Stratocaster which brought the band’s unique sound to our very own doorstep in Mombasa along with Rudi on drums and Polly on bass. They practised regularly in the garage at “Gupta Villa” (Dom & Rudi’s abode in Ganjoni), and as their repertoire progressed, they would occasionally play at venues including the Rex Hotel.  

 

In time Roger, the manager of Tudor House Hotel got to hear of them and offered them a booking to play every Saturday night at Tudor House Hotel.  Saturday night in Mombasa was never the same thereafter, as most teenagers made it their venue to Shadoogie and Shindig their way through the night!

 


How they came about the name is a bit of a story in itself.  As the bands at that time took rebel sounding names like The Pirates, The Bandits etc, these lads took the name of the then Somali raiders into northern Kenya who were known as “Shiftas” – but when the lads played at the Diamond Jubilee Hall for the political KANU Party’s annual ball, their celebrity guest Tom Mboya, a leading Kenya Cabinet Minister, came up to the stage to thank them for their enjoyable music and told them that he was not happy with their name!!. So, to avoid any conflict, Benny decided on adding the “R” to the band’s name.

 

Thus renamed “THE SHIFTARS”, was born and continued playing!! much to the chagrin and dismay of the boys’ parents and school board – as it was apparently affecting their studies, especially as their Senior Cambridge (O Levels) graduation exams were looming up that year, 1965.  Needless to say, despite many protests from their parents and the school board, the boys still carried on playing and thankfully passed the exams too!

 

They continued playing at Tudor every Saturday, and on reflection years later, meeting up with members of Safari Sound Band, it was gratifying to know that from hearing The Shiftars and seeing them play at Tudor, albeit through a window on the side, was what inspired them at their young age to as well take up music and were helped and tutored by a Goan teacher.  In gratitude they invited Benny and me to hear them play at Whitesands Hotel on our visit in 1994, when they unexpectedly performed their rendition of The Shadows numbers on the beach! 


The Shiftars were often popularly booked for various private Goan functions and weddings at the GI club, the Goan Tailors Society, as well as, the Diamond Jubilee Hall for various multi-racial weddings and functions encompassing some of their Swahili and ethnic music too.

 

The band’s performances at the local Annual Makadara Fete for the Idd/Eid festival as well, generated a large fan base among the young Arab/Muslim girls and boys who could not afford attending the hotel venues they played at.

 

Their one regret to this day, is not having had the facility at the time, to record some of their numbers like the Christmas Carols that were done in unique arrangements and the contemporary music they twanged without orchestration. 

 



 

Their popularity kept them very much in demand, and with the remuneration earned, plus help from the family, they then purchased new amplification from London, and guitars from Germany, which made the fiesta red Hofner electric guitars their signature look alongside the new 30 Watts WEM amplifiers that extended their tone and sound.  Also, when a visiting English naval ship’s band in need of quick dosh sold them their Watkins Copycat echo unit, it further enhanced their unique sound of The Shadows, and completed their act. 

 

In later years, it was wonderful for Benny and me to meet the real Mr. Watkins and be invited to his home studio in London, where he had designed the Copycat echo units and WEM amplifiers.  From our conversation with him, we were surprised that he clearly recalled the first order that he had from Assanands Music Store in Mombasa, which was for his WEM amplifiers, and how that initial order subsequently opened the market for him in Kenya.


In 1966, the band entered the Teen Beat Contest in Nairobi and came third but it was an experience for these young lads as they had to compose their own music and travel all the way to Nairobi on a shoe string budget to compete only to find that the bands that beat them, played copyright hit numbers from the UK charts – though deflated, it gave them a resolve to better themselves with enthusiasm nevertheless!  The following day they played at the RGI hop, thus creating a Nairobi fan base who would always make it a point to come to say hello and hear them play when in Mombasa.

 

From then on, their music went from strength to strength as they incorporated contemporary dance music and other chart hits to their repertoire thus creating a good modern dance band that were the envy of other bands by substituting different rhythms and guitar sounds in replacement of orchestration, thus creating a totally new sound and dimension. 


Though they continued Saturday Nights at Tudor House Hotel it was, late ‘66, at The Carlton Hotel, where they occasionally played that they were heard by Sean McCrindle, Manager of the elite 5 star Nyali Beach Hotel that primarily had only foreign tourist and the rich stay there.  He offered them a lucrative resident contract to play every Wednesday and Saturday night including, the Festive Seasons which drew in the Mombasa crowds making the band ever more popular as “Saturday Nights at Nyali”, became the hot spot for the majority of the local community as the band’s ever changing repertoire moved on to include a wide tempo range of instrumental dance music that had never before been performed on the electric guitar, as well as group vocals covering pop numbers including the Beatles early hits.
 

 

For the Nyali Beach Hotel Brochure, the band had an additional uniform to encompass a touch of the Kenyan wildlife with red velvet jackets trimmed in fake leopard fur (red to match the guitars) ahem.

 

 



They also procured an organ and harmonica, which Benny played in between twanging the guitar!  Thus increasing their range of music and variations to the popular hits of the time.

 





Sadly none of the music they produced was recorded except once in a flat, with a basic tape recorder, as recording studios etc. were few and expensive.  This was done when they were offered a chance to go to Germany and play the clubs, but thankfully declined due to parental pressure and not knowing what going to Europe could entail.

At the time being 19 years of age, they continued with their obligations at Nyali Beach Hotel as well as fitted in bookings for other occasions, whilst also working in their daytime career employment too.

 

With the political climate in Kenya changing and employment/career development hard to come by, 1968 changed the band members with Rudi, drummer, leaving for the UK and replaced by Jojo (Benny’s younger brother who had previously played the guitar in a band called The Wee).





Though still very popular and in great demand, it was future prospects that were unsecure and so in 1970, Benny and Jojo left for the UK and Polly and Dominic then emigrated to Canada. 

This meant that 3 members of The Shiftars were now in Canada and Benny in the UK!  And so it was inevitable that a reunion was in the offing – albeit an informal one in 1979 when we both visited Toronto and were joined by Polly (Theodora) from Nova Scotia and Dominic (Diane) from Edmonton.  It was fab being together again, and whilst jamming in the basement for old time sake, the boys realised that they had not forgotten their music though some "brushing up" was needed ... a phrase that was often used in humour and laughter, but the friendship was still very close and tight.

 

It was to be another 12 years before they could reunite again...purely due to work and career commitments.  21 years since their Mombasa days – the band reunited for a short public performance at “Karibuni Kwa Kenya Nite” in September 1991, held in Toronto, which was organised by the Goan Community (GOA) where, to a rapturous welcome, the boys played for just over an hour to ovations which brought many happy memories and tears to the ex Mombasa and Nairobi folks.  They were in fact only scheduled for a 30 minute slot, but the demands for more had them playing longer! Truly a memorable night. (Note their 1964 signature uniform of all black with the yellow string bow ties was recreated again for this performance).

 



 

 

 


The next day, they played at The Nags Head, a local pub for friends and family who wanted to spend time with them and reminisce the good ole days as well as joined on stage by the Remedios brothers from Mombasa.  The special T-shirts worn with The Shiftars photo was gifted to them by Henry Vaz, a staunch supporter, who also arranged the pub reunion of Mombasa friends.

 



 

Then in 1998, when the lads turned 50, they decided that the best way to celebrate was to get together for yet another reunion and this time it was held in Edmonton, Canada in June 1998, as Dominic decided to celebrate this milestone birthday, and brought the boys yet again in touch with their guitars & drums!. It was indeed a wonderful reunion.

 



 

 

 

This last reunion session finished with the song “Vision” sung by Dom.  It still resonates of when will we meet again...!!

 



 

 

At present, Rudi (Ninette) and Polly (Theodora) are in Toronto, and Dominic (Lourdes) is in Edmonton, Canada. 

 

Maybe one day, health and time permitting, the boys will get together for old time sake and have a reunion of sorts with the music and camaraderie they shared which kept them close and young!!... well, I try to egg my dear hubby Benny (here in London, UK) to start twanging again!  Lest he loses the touch of his first love! Ahem!

 

There are times, when we play the tracks that were later recorded at their reunions, and I close my eyes, I drift back to time when the cool breeze of Nyali Beach Hotel and Mombasa wafted over me, the stars in the sky sparkled, together with the moon doing it's bit and I enjoy reminiscing to their unique sounds of that era and the man I fell in love with and married!....though it is 46 years later!!

And in now putting their story for all to read, it will also enable our friends to drift back in time and reminisce as well as share the era of the band.  

With the help of friends, I was able to collate a few of the old photographs (some not digital enhanced!) so hope you enjoy reading and going back in time to what was our Yesterday in Paradise! Ahem!

 

In closing, the family of all 4 Shiftars wish you and your families reading this, a Very Merry Christmas and A Happy New year!

 

Mingi good wishes,

Cecilia Mascarenhas

December 2018

 


A self-made Goan news/sports photographer: Emiliano Joanes

  Emiliano Joanes Have camera, will shoot A Masai woman arrives to collect water during a drought and finds the river bed dry   Two Masai ...