TEA EXPORTER AND VISIONARY PHILANTHROPIST
Guenther passed away peacefully at Westminster
hospital, London, on April 24, 1991 after a short
He was to have been 50
on September 1, 1991 this year.
That celebration will be
Dieter was born in
September 1941 in Eastern Prussia.
Soon after the end of
the war, Dieter together with his mother and sister, crossed over into
The frugal and spartan
life which he experienced as a very young child during the war
continued for some years after the war in Western Germany.
The hardship sustained
then seems to have made Dieter aware of other peopleís needs and
perhaps that is why so
much of his time and effort was directed towards improving the lot
of the less fortunate at Mombasa, specially children.
After completing his
education and his early training in the tea trade in Europe, the
Argentine and Mozambique, Dieter arrived at Mombasa in 1967 to manage
a tea trading company at Mombasa.
Soon Dieter was to
start his own company, East African Tea Exporters Limited, and
became, in his own right, a substantial exporter of teas from Kenya.
Dieterís success was
due to his integrity, enthusiasm and willingness not only in his
business, but also to serve the tea trade in various capacities,
including as Chairman of the East Africa Tea Trade Association.
This last post Dieter
occupied with some degree of distinction.
For Dieter it was not
enough to serve his vocation only.
There was the boundless
energy and drive to serve the various organizations like the Round
Table and the Masonic Lodge and there again he was not merely a
If things had to be
done, schools to be built, equipment to be purchased and children to
be taught, then Dieter was in the forefront of every cause:
travelling overseas to
raise money, helping to build and equip schools, and even badgering
people to walk for him, and therby raise more money.
The Mombasa Secondary
School for the Physically Handicapped stands as a living proof to all
He, in the main, started
that project from scratch, raised funds and saw to its completion.
The School now has 120
boys and a full complement of staff, providing education for
handicapped children who might not otherwise have received the benefit
of any such education at all.
He was also the Chairman
of the SOS Village standing next to the School.
Everyone who met
Dieter, and whatever he touched, was enriched by the experience; by
his charm, good humour, language and willingness to help others.
His love and zest for
life, and for the good things therein were insatiable; his love for
his fellow human beings was such that he wanted everyone else to
have the same facility for enjoyment of life, as he had.
We shall miss that cigar
which always preceded Dieter.
We shall miss many other
things besides; we shall miss him above all.
May his soul rest in
Will Always Be Remembered For
His Exemplary Social Work At The Coast
last thing Dieter said to me before he left for Europe on April 8,
"I really need
this holiday, I tell you.
working so hard itís unbelievable I am still on my feet".
I smiled and said what
Iíd always said to him in the 12 years Iíd known him:
"But Dieter you
canít help it, youíre a work-addict you know".
Two weeks later in a
London hospital, he had passed on.
An unwarranted victim of
a lung infection.
That Klaus Dieter
Guenther-affectionately known as "Mr Kiko", was an
indefatigable worker was never in dispute to all those who knew him or
came into contact with him.
Born of simple means in
Hamburg, West Germany, he used to tell of the period just after the
end of the second world war when the family lived in near-starvation
"Then we were
always so hungry that each time we got some potatoes we would start
eating them while they were still boiling".
He would always say,
never one to hide his humble beginnings.
Eventually, he went to
London where he worked in various capacities before going on to South
It was in Argentina
where he made some money which he brought to Kenya, investing it in
the tea business.
Dieter built up East
Africa Tea Exporters Limited from scratch, through sheer, non-stop
He stoutly believed that
for once to get anything in life one had to work for it, and work hard
Through his tireless
efforts East Africa Tea Exporters Limited became one of the biggest
tea exporting companies in the country, and he became at one time,
chairman of the East Africa Tea Traders Association.
His other assets
included partnerships in Advertising companies, Game Lodges and
reputable restaurants - many will remember him as the owner of Tiffanyís,
Mombasaís most popular night spot when he was running it -
"Bwana Kikoís" Club, they used to say.
However, Dieter will
most be remembered for the social work he was committed to.
Through the Round Table
Association Number Three, he was a major donor to numerous charities.
He played a part in the
construction of the Port Reitz Polio Clinic.
He was also a leading
supporter of the SOS Childrens Village, even sponsoring a child when
the village became functional.
Then came The Mombasa
Secondary School for the Physical Handicapped (M.S.S.P.H.).
Dieter was the convenor
and it was his biggest project to date.
Working ceaselessly he
raised millions of shillings from international donors like kinsmen
of Canada and Round Tablers in Germany.
Locally he sought, and
got pledges from many companies and individuals for building
materials and school equipment.
It was never easy.
There were delays,
price fluctuations, broken promises and general human failures.
Through all this
He persevered through
the hindrances, bottlenecks and unkempt pledges, and the result of his
perserverence was the M.S.S.P.H.
There were. other, too
numerous to mention here.
Let it suffice to say
that his was a hand of generosity of selfless giving.
None was too low to have
his ear, and none was ever turned away from his audience.
Some took unfair
advantage of this of course, and Dieter knew it, but he continued
giving, forgiving, believing in the ultimate good of human nature.
Yes, Dieter was human,
but a very special kind of human being.
He learned to adapt
and adopt in the real senses of the words.
But words donít mean
enough here, for Dieter has passed on.
Its the thoughts that
The thoughts of all
who met him, knew him, loved him.
Itís their thoughts
that should linger on - linger on like the last glimmering ray of the
setting sun, the shimmer of a star too far away to reach - illusive,
Thatís what matters,
that Dieter lives in our heart and minds - till that day when we meet
May God the grear
Architect of the Universe grant his soul eternal peace and repose.
Guenther Was Always Unstinting...
write jointly in respect of the tragic and untimely death of Dieter
The Mombasa Secondary
School for the Physically handicapped stands as a memorial to this man
whose main concern in life was for those less fortunate than himself
since he was the main instigator and driving force behind establishing
What perhaps is less
well known is his great contribution to the SOS Childrenís Village
where from 1987 until his death he was chairman of the management
Dieter Guenther was a
German expatriate, a long term resident of Mombasa, member of Mombasa
Round Table and a highly respected Kenyan tea merchant.
Outside public life he
was a very private man who sought no publicity, recognition or thanks
for his charitable work.
He saw it all in the
children whom he served.
The loss to the SOS
Village by Dieter Guentherís death will be reflected in the
enormous administrative role that goes with the chairmanship, a role
which he fulfilled willingly and unstintingly.
beyond the duties of chairman included the anonymous sponsorship of
children resident in the Village, the anonymous
funding of the annual Motherís Day luncheon;
in Dieterís company,
the traditional German celebration on Christmas Eve would be spent
with the mothers and children at the village.
A modest man, a generous
man, a private man; characteristics which conceal the extent of his
contribution to the community - a true son of Kenya.
Fryer, Malvern, U.K.
Woodhams, Sussex, U.K.,
Past Chairman - SOS Childrenís Village, Mombasa.