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  OBITUARY  

October 04 - 10, 1991

 

 Coastweek   Kenya


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IKRAM HASSAN

HIs fame and reputation made him one of
the most sought after Hunters in Africa

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Coastweek -- Ikram Hassan died recently at the age of 73.

For many of the mourners present at the simple ceremony in Mombasa they were attending the burial of an elderly cleric of the Faith, one who had served his community well and faithfully for many years.

For those who knew him better, Ikram was ever more than that.

He was also Big Game Hunter extraordinary, a scholar to the end of his days and one of natures rare gentlemen.

It is a moving story that needs to be told.

Ikram was born into an educational Muslim family in Kenya in 1918, at the end of the First World War.

His father Dr. S.G. Hassan rose to be the Provincial Vetnary Officer of the Coast and held the post with distinction for many years till his retirement in 1952.

Ikram's brother the Late Fez Hassan was a well known lawyer in Mombasa and an avid collector of rare books of Africana.

Coastweek - - Ikram Hassan was a Big Game Hunter extraordinary.

Nurtured in this atmosphere of learning and respectability the young Ikram tried to study Law and then Vetnary sciences only to give up both as not quite to his likings.

But the disciplines of learning gave him a lifelong addiction to reading and his fund of general knowledge was truly impressive.

Somewhere in the late forties when the world was changing as fast as it is again today, Ikram found his African Hunting Safaris: a company for Big Game Hunting aimed mainly at the lucrative American Market.

In those days, this was the preserve of White Hunters - an intrepid breed of professionals renowned for their courage, hunting skills and personal extravagances, all celebrated in Hemingways novels and romantisiced in Hollywood films.

It looked like a foolhardy challenge.

But after the first few years of struggle, Ikram found this nitch.

His safaris were meticulously planned, his knowledge of the country-side second to none and his personal charisma, quite unique.

Ikram hid his steel under a modest, shy and gentle exterior.

He became an instant success with those who went with him.

By the early sixties when Kenya was racing towards Uhuru, Ikram’s fame and reputation had made him one of the most sought after Hunters in Africa.

His clients included Presidents of famous American corporations and wealthy, self-made men for whom the adventure and the man leading it were as important as the elusive trophy itself.

There were always two sides to this idyllic, overblown “Holiday”.

First, the hunters camp pitched in the magical African night with its campfires, its green tents and the faraway cough of a lion hunting its prey in the heart of darkness.

Then, the next day with its long dusty drives, the walk through heavy thorn bush with camaflough all round where East, West, North and South all look the same and then, quite suddenly, the moment itself: that split second when man sees death in the form of a charging lion, a marauding buffalo or the snarling visage of a leopard just feet away.

A revelation of some kind can take place.

Some call it die moment of truth.

To have gone through such an experience was to venerate the man who had brought them to it and then taken them out alive and well.

Ikram Hassan, the brown hunter, was up there among the finest of such men.

Leo Rothe, a frequent client wrote about Ikram in a book of African adventures calling him “A legend in his life time”.

In his heyday lkram was a handsome, tall, scholarly looking man who discoursed as easily about Big Game, Guns and Trackers as he did about Religion and Politics.

Since Adventure was a way of life, he walked continually with death and danger. Inevitably he had a number of close shaves himself, almost always resulting from a client's over-eagerness to “bag his trophy”.

There was the memorable incident with a wounded buffalo.

The animal had rushed off into deep bush.

The client was told of the dangers that now loomed just ahead and advised to stay behind.

He declined.

There was no time for further discussion.

The buffalo had to be flushed out. In single file then, the tracker, Ikram and the client followed the bloodspoor.

The buffalo, perfectly camafloughed lurked closer than they thought.

It burst upon them, huge, mad with rage and intent on revenge.

The client fired, missed and took over.

The unarmed tracker sprang aside.

The enraged animal caught Ikram and tossed him into the air.

Miraculously he slipped off its horns and fell wounded to one side as the buffalo, confused by a torn coat sleeve blocking its vision pawed the earth bellowing with fury.

Somehow in that instant the tracker handed back the fallen gun to Ikram and it all ended in a thunderclap as the shot found its mark.

The murderous looking horns made a fine trophy.

Hunting in Kenya was always strictly controlled and heavily licenced, bringing in its fair share of foreign exchange.

As his fame spread, Ikram was asked to conduct safaris in the Sudan, Ethiopia and the jungles of India.

But when the ban on hunting came to Kenya in 1979, he hung up his guns.

A unique way of life had ended and for many an era was over.

After his retirement from hunting safaris, lkram looked at the prospect of converting big ranches into minigame parks.

He and Leo Rothe hit on the idea of attracting Game to a small natural salt lake in Taita.

This was how the Saltlick Lodge in Taita was really born from an idea nurtured by Ikram.

Not being a businessman the opportunity passed him by.

Others, more savvy in the ways of corporate finance and development turned it info the huge success that it is today.

Ikram moved on.

With his sense of fairplay and natural friendliness, he got involved in social work and put into this, the same zest, honesty and good humour that he had into everything else in his life.

As the hunters image slipped from him that of the cleric and social worker took hold.

A characteristic Muslim cap replaced the hunters hat.

But the lean, striding figure was the same and instantly recognisable from a distance.

In their big country-house in Mombasa, life went on as it always had. Friends would come in and out.

The kitchen never stopped serving Lights remained on till the small hours of the morning and, till recently, the front door remained barely closed in an area where most neighbours now have iron grill and dozing watchmen at their barred gates

When the telephone rang, it could as well be from town as from someone thousands of miles away simply wanting to inquire after an old friend.

When death came it was swift and unexpected from a stomach ailment.

The day before he had been winning at cards with his wife. Ikram's memory lives on and will be cherished forever in those who know this fine Kenyan gentleman.

- K.S., Mombasa.
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Syed Ikram-ul Hassan was perpetual
Chairman of the Muslim Association

Coastweek - - The Muslim Association of Mombasa announces with profound sorrow and grief the sudden death of the Chairman of the Association Syed lkram-ul Hassan which took place on Monday September 16, 1991.

He was buried the same day at 5.00 p.m. at the Muslim Cementary.

The burial was well attended by various Muslim and non-Muslim dignatories amongst them being His Worship the Mayor of Mombasa Sheikh Ahmed Mwidani and the Chief Kadhi of Kenya Sheikh Nassor-el Nahdy.

The burial ceremony was conducted by the Kadhi of Mombasa Sheikh Ali Mwinzagau.

Earlier the coffin was moved from his residence in Tudor to Sakina Mosque for the Namaz-e-Janaza which was conducted by the Imam of the Sakina Mosque Sheikh lddris.

Syed Ikram-ul Hassan aged 73 years was the perpetual Chairman of the Association for the past 14 years and successfully served the Association from various problems and made the Association’s work his life partner.

Coastweek - - Syed lkram-ul Hassan as Chairman of the Muslim Association of Mombasa.

He was a white hunter by the profession and retired from his business when the Government of Kenya banned hunting in Kenya.

He had earlier presided over the Maulid-un Nabi SAW rehearsal programme and duly approved the programme for the forthcoming celebration to mark the birthday of holy Prophet Muhammad SAW.

His death has robbed the Muslim Community of an upright, courageous and exemplanary personality who was always at the forefront for the welfare of the Muslim Community.

He leaves behind his widow Dr Bilquis Hassan and a sister to whom the Association extends its most sincere condolences. May his soul rest in peace. Amen.

- Muslim Association of Mombasa.

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