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  OBITUARY  

January 23 - 29, 2009

 

 Coastweek   Kenya


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ZEYANA SEIF AL-KHARUSY
- SWAHILI BROAD CASTER 

Her death robbed millionS OF Kiswahili listeners
of their outstanding and favourite broad caster

Coastweek -- Popular Zeyana Seif Al-Kharusy well known around the world as 'First Lady' on BBC Kiswahili bulletin' - breathed her last on 29th December, 2008.

As a broadcaster of international repute she was remarkably popular for over half a century: as a news-reader, interviewer and producer of cultural programmes.

Zeyana entered into broad casting profession soon she left school in 1958 as she joined 'Sauti ya Unguja' and immediately earned several thousand fans for her dynamic news reading with her bright and attractive voice.

Her death robbed more than ten million listeners of Kiswahili service of their outstanding and favourite broadcaster.

It was the December 1964 Zanzibar Revolution that made her emigrate to England and in 1965 she joined BBC - Kiswahili Service as the first and the only then, woman voice reading news.

She remained with the service for more than half a century - during which time she was dubbed 'First lady' on BBC Kiswahili bulletin.

Coastweek - - broadcaster
Zeyana Seif Al-Kharusy

She also had an impeccable command of English that made her an excellent news translator from English into Kiswahili.

She had obtained distinctions in English and English Literature in Cambridge Secondary School Certificate -1957.

For more than 50 years Zeyana established herself as a dedicated, devoted and a highly talented broadcaster.

"She built for herself an indestructible monument in the hearts of not only the Tanzania faminine media voice but also for her regular Kiswahili listeners the world over.

"She was, indeed, the epitome of the feminine voice and broadcasting practitioners who took her career as a crusading mission.

"She became the mentor of the Kiswahili feminine voice fraternity."

This writer was exceptionally privileged to have a rare opportunity of being interviewed by Zeyana over the Sauti ya Unguja Broadcasting Station in 1959 on my maiden cultural travelogue to Zanzibar.

We, at one of the slots, discussed on a dictum: 'Any dog could bark and have its voice heard over a microphone.'

It was an attempt to evaluate the appropriate qualities and characteristics of a genuinely successful broadcaster; over and above a good voice.

It took this writer about fifty year later to meet Zeyana again, that was in 1991 at Bush House, London where she took me around the studios and arranged for me to be interviewed on my pet topics - Taarab Music and Promotion of Kiswahili.

Both over the Kiswahili Service and in Focus on Africa - English slot.

Actually in Zanzibar I was the guest of her elder brother - Sheikh Ahmed Seif Kharusy from whom I gratefully enjoyed exceptional hospitality for a full good month.

Her brother was a prominent Zanzibar journalist; owning his own press and a fortnightly famous and articulate periodical - 'Mwongozi' - actually a mouth piece of the political party - 'Hizbul Al-Watan to which he was the general secretary.

Her several colleagues have paid glowing tribute to Zeyana:

Tido Muhando: 'I used to enjoy listening to Zeyana before joining broadcasting at Dar-Eslaam and admire her dynamic good voice.

'Joining BBC - Swahili Service - I came to meet Zeyana in person and to find her to be a thorough lady, ever helpful, exceptionally generous, kind hearted and good natured.'

Vicky Intetema: 'I regard Zeyana not only as my reliable colleague but my great and affectionate mentor, indeed, my faithful friend to whom I could divulge my personal problems.

'Wherever and whenever she could, she would go out of her way to help me solving such problems.'

She was both kind and charming, assisting whoever came to her for a helping hand.

Aisha Yahya, as the deputy head of the Swahili Service:

'Zeyana had the noble characteristics of a pragmatic broadcasting practitioner - loyal, obedient, reliable, exceptionally hard working, strictly punctual and she passionately and affectionately loved career and her colleagues.

'Her sudden death has saddened us all, at Bush House and all in our overseas bureaus.'

Sulma Kassim: 'We are terribly sad to suddenly have lost not only our great mentor but an affectionate, elder sister.

'It is an irreparable loss.

'Zeyana was a unique personality in many ways - a noble minded lady, magnanimous, benevolent who was ever ready to offer a helping hand.

'She was a woman of her word, promising, remarkably punctual in fulfilling obligations.

'Zeyana Seif Al-Kharusy will remain in our hearts as an unforgettable personality and indeed an epitome of a feminine voice of broadcasting institution."

Similar remarks of tribute to Zeyana have also been expressed by several hundreds of her colleagues who came to know her at a professional proximity.

She is survived with one son and two daughters.

May Almighty Allah rest his soul in Paradise - Ameen.

Faraj Dumila, Mombasa. 

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