Sabharwal loved all aspects flying and is seen here in
the Wilken hangar at the old Mombasa airport with one of
his first aircraft while building up the Amiphibians
Kanwarlal Sabharwal Was
was also a grand philanthropist who used his
energy and enthusiasm through service clubs
-- The late
Kanwarlal [Kamal] Sabharwal, aged 78, was one of the more colourful
and accomplished businessmen who flourished at the coast during the
60s, 70s, 80s and 90s.
different times he was a Hollywood photo correspondent, one
of the post independence pioneers of the tourist trade,
chairman of the Mombasa flying club, a cinema operator, and
the founder publisher of the Coastweek newspaper.
was also a grand philanthropist who used his abounding
energy and enthusiasm through service clubs such as the
Lions Clubs and Freemasonry.
a theosophist he enjoyed expounding on esoteric religious
concepts. As a conservationist he helped plant veritable
forests of indigenous trees at Taru, Waa and the North Coast
- his favourites included baobab, mango, coconut and
-- Kanwarlal Sabharwal.
'Friend of Scouts' he received personal thanks for his sterling
efforts to promote scouting in Kenya from the King of Sweden - who
was then the World Chief Scout.
different times he was on the Board of Governors of the Mama Ngina
Girls School, Waa Secondary School and the Taru High School.
was born in Mazeras in 1934 and educated at the Allidina Visram High
parents, Haveliram and Vidyavati, were prominent South Coast sand
and building contractors.
sisters were Sudesh, the late Kanta and Saroj.
brothers were the late Ved who was an engineer, Ravi, who worked in
the xray department, and Mombasa doctor Satinder.
studied photography in Britain and in the early sixties returned to
Mombasa to run 'Quality Photo Process' - a photographic shop on Moi
was the very proud possessor of a top-of-the-line 'Hasselblad'
camera and in 1962 he was asked to become the 'stills'
photographer for the Hollywood blockbuster 'Sammy Going South'
starring George C. Robinson, with much of the drama being shot in
and around Mombasa.
later become a photographic 'stringer' for the international press
in Europe and India - his iconic photos of the late coast leader
Ronald Ngala and the late Mzee Jomo Kenyatta were both used on
election posters of that era.
1964 in Arusha he had the good fortune to marry Kiran, the daughter
of a Tanzanian coffee dynasty.
have three children: daughter Sangeeta, living in Mombasa and
married to Coast businessman Zahir Jiwan, son Tarun, an
interventional radiologist married to Nandita and working in
London, and daughter Shalini, a trained school teacher.
this time he started 'Savannah Tours and Safaris', and was always on
hand to personally escort and photograph visiting Bollywood film
stars including Shashi Kapoor, Sharmila Tagore and Sunil Dutt.
was followed by the launch of 'Amphibians Air Charters' which was
based at Mombasa airport and eventually encompassed ten aircraft,
including a twin-engine 18 seater passenger plane.
of the young pilots who got their 'wings' flying tourists to the
game parks for 'Amphibians' later went on to work with East
African Airways, Kenya Airways and Middle East operators.
struck in August 1971 when the aircraft he was flying from Lamu to
Mombasa drifted off course and he crash landed near Bachuma Gate,
close to Tsavo East Game park.
passenger, the Nation newspapers Mombasa bureau chief Monte Vianna,
died in the accident and Kamal spent five frantic days dehydrated
and hallucinating in the bush before he was rescued and hospitalised.
was uneven and for many years he suffered from the physical and
psychological shock of this baleful incident.
in 1978 he was 'back in business' and helped launched Coastweek
newspaper: due to transport problems the first issue looked like
it might be delayed for sale on the streets, so he solved this
potential heartbreak moment by flying the entire 22,000 copies
down to Mombasa in one of his Amphibians aircraft.
the 80's he bought out the 'Naaz' cinema, renamed it 'Lotus Cinema'
and concentrated on showing a mix of 'Kung Fu' epics, westerns and
religious films popular with old town audiences.
of his later life was spent in charitable and educational works, and
his greatest love: planting trees and conserving nature.
was fortunate too to enjoy the regular company of his grand children
Zoya, Riya, Aahan and Ishan.
grandchildren read out this touching eulogy during the recent
funeral ceremonies in Mombasa:
grandfather was a man who dedicated his life to helping others, be
it with a smile, words of encouragement or any other way.
taught us that you must help people in any way you can, but to do
it with your heart.
saw the world as a beautiful place.
loved people and nature and we can see this through the
photographs he took (saw the world through his eyes).
grandfather was a man of strength.
taught us many principles, of which an important one was to be a
fight for what you believe in, what is right and most importantly
for those you love.
lesson is to be patient and forgiving as mistakes happen but
holding a grudge is an even bigger mistake.
nana taught us that no matter what your background was, you need
to show respect to every individual and love and cherish those
know you are watching over us and will guide us throughout our
lives and we only hope we can achieve things that will make you
proud and more than anything, we hope we can live up to be even
half the person you were.'
Sabharwal Tried Very Hard
To Establish Swahili Film Industry
was a far sighted, pragmatic, courageous
am profoundly grieved to learn of the death of
Kanarwal (Kamal) Sabharwalal.
first came into contact with Kamal in the office of Coastweek.
found him to be a man of great ideas and desire to
promote the artistic, professional and cultural
talents of indigenous Coastal youth.
was a far sighted, pragmatic, courageous entrepreneur
who used to tell me:
be sad for losing any of your precious material
possessions but your inner most, spiritual faith in
was a deeply religious man who strictly adhered to
spiritual strictures, dogmas, and commands.
was a helpful, reasonably generous man.
would occasionally invite me to his house for evening
conversation, mainly on cultural topics, over
delicious Asiatic delicacies – his favourite being
‘Chauro and Ladu’.
had a deeply embedded desire to establish a Kiswahili
film cottage industry.
am particularly grateful to him for introducing me
to His Excellency Singh – the Assistant High
Commissioner of the Republic of India who helped me
in getting a cultural study tour to India.
my return I wrote my impressions of the immense
educational, medical and cultural facilities
available in India which could enormously benefit
met several hundred Kenyan students in various
universities enjoying their learning in India and
people seeking medical treatments in India medical
was of great help in getting me printed a collection
of the articles in a book form titled “India
Cultural Travelogue” - in both English and
was a highly respected gentleman, especially within
the Asian communities.
used to reiterate to me:
be happy, try to make your fellow men and women
happy but never to probe into the private affairs.
is not bought through material wealth but achieved
by deliberate and sincere efforts of making others
is Kamal I fondly remember.
his virtuous soul remain in eternal Peace; Heaven.
you read it first at coastweek.com