It was eight decades ago that a journalist in colonial Kenya devoted his newspaper, the Colonial Times, to exposing the evils of British colonialism in Kenya and India. He became the first journalist in Kenyan history to be jailed on charges of ‘sedition’, not once but twice. His name was Girdhari Lal Vidyarthi. The paper folded in 1962, Girdhari Lal passed away in 1985 in Nairobi, but the story does not end there.
Colourprint, a printing cum publishing press, was established in the 70s by Vidyarthi’s three sons: Anil, Sudhir and Bhushan. Bhushan, born in 1937, was the oldest and therefore head of the firm. Their father’s earlier fight against colonialism was now transformed into a crusade against poverty and injustice, and for championing freedom of the press. Here was a business venture with a vision and a mission!
Professor Josaphat L Kanywanyi, simply Joe to his close compatriots, was perhaps the longest serving academic in Tanzania. He grew up during the colonial era in a large family of modest means in a lush rural setting in northwest Tanzania. Diligence, determination and a sharp mental aptitude propelled him from that humble background to degrees in law from the University of Dar es Salaam (LL.B and Ph.D) and the University of Berkeley (LL.M) and a distinguished career in the academy, law and public service.
Starting in 1966 as a tutorial assistant in the UDSM Faculty of Law, Joe rose to become Professor of Law and eventually, Professor Emeritus of UDSM. Formal retirement in 1998 hardly meant throwing in the towel. Though age and illness were taking their toll, he continued to teach, attend meetings and supervise student research on contract terms well into 2020. Over this long academic tenure, he was a dedicated teacher, a meticulous legal mind, a fair and efficient administrator. Always calm and composed, he is universally and fondly remembered for his gentle, humble persona, a professor who treated everyone with respect, no matter their status.