July 07 - 13, 1995


 Coastweek   Kenya

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Saifuddin Karimbhai Anjarwalla

Prominent Lawyer, Politician, Philanthropist,
Social Worker And A Loving Parent


Coastweek -- With the passing away of Saif Anjarwalla, the country has lost not only a brilliant lawyer but also an elder statesman; a highly respected leader of long standing, a reformer, a social worker and above all a friend who helped all who knew him.

Saifuddin Karimbhai Anjarwalla was born on December 15, 1932 the second son of Karimbhai Abdulhusein Anjarwalla of Tayebali Abdulhusein and Company.

The firm was one of the leading Indian trading houses which followed the countries old tradition of import and export of goods from all over the world for shops in diverse regions of East Africa.

H. had a brilliant school career at the Alidina Visram High School from 1943 to 1949 and proved himself as a scholar, sportsman and debater - so absolute was his command of the art of debate that he had to be barred from further participation at school level.

Coastweek - - Saifuddin Karimbhai Anjarwalla

His leadership qualities were apparent at an early age and it was no surprise that he decided not join the lucrative family business but to study law at the Lincoln’s Inn in England.

These were the post-war years of ‘Humanism And Reform’ of the old archaic Colonial order.

He wholeheartedly joined the movement against injustice and racial discrimination and supported Kenya’s movement for independence.

While in London he came into contact with many future leaders of the Commonwealth, including Sir Sereste Khama of Botawana and Charles Njonjo, former Attorney-General of Kenya.

He passed his exams with distinction and became a barrister in 1954.

Returning to Kenya he established a flourishing legal practice and was always respected for honest and practical legal advice, his mastery of the art of conveyancing - and his performance in the Courts.

He threw himself fully into the independence movement In Kenya.

He joined other Indian leaders such as Pio Gama Pinto, K.P. Shah. K.D. Travadi, Chanan Singh and myself to form the ’31 Group’ and the Kenya Freedom Party (the ‘KFP’).

The members of the ‘31 Group’ and the KFP believed in the ideal of a secular, non-racial and democratic Kenya and were willing to pursue this ideal sometimes at great personal sacrifice (indeed, even death) to themselves and their families.

The ‘31 Group’ and the KFP opposed the ‘Indian Congress’ and ‘Muslim League’, who just before the Lancaster House Conference had taken a pro-British stance.

The KFP fought for a non-racial constitution with a common roll and the policy of ‘One Man, One Vote’.

Along with others he opposed colour bar and, at the risk of incurring the wrath of the Colonial authorities, publicly provoked confrontation at some of the clubs and other institutions which operated colour bar, in order to raise awareness and to frustrate the Colonial authorities.

For example, he was unceremoniously ejected from the grounds of The Mombasa Club and subsequently refused, on a point of principle, to become a member until the early 1970’s.

In the context of contemporary Kenyan politics, with its many financial scandals, its dangerous and ill-informed racial generations and the all pervasive and self-starving ‘get-rich-quick’ attitude it is a salutary reminder that in those heady-days of the 1950’s and 1960’s there were Asians who actively believed in the new Kenya, for which the 31 Group and to. KFP fought and whose principles were enshrined in the independence constitution of Kenya.

He was elected, nominally as an independent but with the full support of KANU, to the Kenya Parliament from the constituency of Mombasa Tudor and Old Town in the election of 196l, defeating a candidate supported by KADU.

He was respected by KANU leaders such as Tom Mboya who actively campaigned on his behalf and spoke at public meetings in support of KANU and Saif Anjarwalla.

He played his full part at the Lancaster House Conference in 1962 and his views were sought and highly regarded by Mzee Jomo Kenyatta.

Tom Mboya and others within KANU as well as KADU and the British Government.

Mzee Kenyatta appointed him as Assistant Minister of Social Services in the Coalition Government.

He occupied this post with great distinction and during his ministerial tenure was responsible, for placing on the statute-book important social legislation.

Saif, was not, however, at home with the cut-throat methods creeping in Kenya’s politics.

He retired from active politics after the next General Elections (after losing his seat to the KADU candidate) and, despite the exhortations of his friend within and outside politics, resisted the temptation to re-enter the political fray.

Instead he continued with his legal practice.

His friends regularly consulted him and sought his advice on the Country’s problems.

Foremost among them were Joseph Murumbi, former Vice President, T.M. Chokwe, KANU Chief of the Coast Province, Msanifu Kombo, Mayor of Mombasa, Ronald Ngala, President of KADU, former KANU Secretary General Robert Matano and dozens of others.

His contribution to the struggle for freedom and the establishment of democracy was important one and an outstanding example of selfless public service.

He was a senior member of the Kenyan legal fraternity and upheld the highest standards of professional ethics and good practice at a time when the standing of the legal profession was not always at its highest.

As an example of the esteem in which he was held and the trust his fellow lawyers placed in him, he was appointed Attorney-in-Dissolution of Bryson Inamdar and Bowyer, one of the oldest and most established law firms in Kenya.

He was always happy to assist the legal fraternity, in particular, by providing pupilages and by guiding all those, particularly junior advocates, who sought his advice.

A not insubstantial amount of his work was done on a ‘pro bono’ basis.

In particular, he was legal adviser to the National Union of Kenya Muslims, who honoured him with the title of ‘Sheikh’.

Despite his departure from active politics, Saif continued to constructively criticise government, the judiciary and other authorities when he felt that they had not operated with the highest standards of probity.

An example of this was his co-operation with the police authorities in the arrest and subsequent successful prosecution for attempted blackmail of a judicial figure despite vehement criticism of various fraternities.

He was often disillusioned with the machinations of Kenya politics and the effect this had on the nation’s progress and supported the move to multi-party politics.

He always remained loyal to Kenya.

Few things angered him more than the snide and callous denigration of Kenya, especially by those who owed their prosperity and loyalty to her.

He also made a substantial contribution to the alleviation of poverty and the promotion of education in the country, both in his personal capacity and in his role as a member or chairman of various charitable trusts such as the Sir Yusufali Charitable Trust, the Madressa al Mohamadeya Education Society, the Bohra Dispensary League and his own family trust, the T.G.K. Anjarwalla Charitable Trust.

With his dear wife Hayati, he established with the support of generous local donors, the Mkomani Clinics, in themselves striking examples of sound management and control in the provision of medical and family planning service.

The clinics attracted the support of many foreign donor agencies who regarded the clinics as showcases for the provision of community health facilities in Africa.

Until his death, he remained on the Board of the Mkomani Clinic Society and provided free legal advice to the clinics.

Saif was a gentle, affectionate and loving man.

He was always honest and sincere in his dealings with his friends and opponents alike and was loved and respected by all who met him.

He had a lovely sense of humour and smiled even in the face of adversity.

He seldom lost his temper even when he had every right to do so.

Saif assisted his fellow men in his quiet, unassuming way, often at great personal sacrifice and fought for his beliefs and principles even if it brought hardship upon himself and his family.

He was a devout and religious man but not a religious bigot.

He respected persons of every race and religion.

Saif was a family man and he had the most united, loving and affectionate family that I have ever known.

The world is a sadder and more sorrowful place without him.

We will miss him so deeply.

A public condolence meeting was held at the Diamond Jubilee Hall in Mombasa addressed by, among others, the Right Honourable Mwai Kibaki MP, Franklin Pereira, Mohamed Jahazi, Amin Merali and Mrs. Maggie Gona.

F.R.S. - Mombasa.




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