Footsteps

Sir Jayantilal Keshavji Chande (Andy) – 1928-2017

Volume 14, Issue 1  | 
Published 03/07/2017
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Sir Jayantilal Keshavji Chande, fondly referred to as ‘Andy’ and later ‘Sir Andy’ after his knighthood, was born on 7 May 1928 in a small non-descript town called Bukene in then Tanganyika. His father had migrated there from India in 1922. Andy did his schooling in India and returned home to make a fortune, lose it all and dedicate his life to the service of his country.

By the turn of the 1960s, Andy could be counted as one of East Africa’s wealthiest people of Indian descent. But on the Monday morning of 10 February 1967,  Abdul Rahman Mohamed Babu, the Minister for Commerce in Nyerere’s government informed him that: ‘All the shares in your respective milling companies will henceforth be vested in the Treasury Registrar, effective noon today’. All Andy’s companies had been nationalized in under a minute, the time it took the minister to read the statement! President Nyerere’s Arusha Declaration had come into force.

That morning was probably the hardest and most agonizing time in Andy’s life but he had no thoughts of emigrating or quitting. Nyerere offered him a post in Government or in the Foreign Service, Andy however had a much simpler request: to be allowed to manage his companies as before. Nyerere was delighted – it marked the beginning of a strong bond between the two men and an opportunity for Andy to serve the nation of Tanzania, with distinguished devotion and service for almost 40 years.

Mwalimu Nyerere appointed Andy to the post of CEO of a new national milling conglomerate formed by the Government, incorporating eight nationalised milling companies, and reporting directly to the President.

By the 1980s Andy had become known as ‘Mister Corporation’. In a space of a few years, Andy had been appointed Chairman of no less than 18 Governmental parastatals as well as board positions of non-profit organizations. In 2002, a patrol boat was named after his wife, Jayli Chande, in appreciation of Andy’s services as Chairman of Tanzania Harbours Authority for 15 years.

Amid all the public duties Andy was able to devote time to honorary public service. He distinguished himself as a Freemason and in 2003 the Queen of England appointed him an ‘Honorary Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (KBE)’ in recognition of services rendered to UK-Tanzanian relations and to voluntary services worldwide.

He served, among many others, for over 25 years as Chairman of Tanganyika Standard Newspapers Limited, publishers of the Daily News and Sunday News. For 28 years as Chairman of the Board of Trustees of King George V Memorial Museum and of the National Museum of Tanzania. He was also a Chancellor of the International Medical and Technical University (IMTU) based in Dar es Salaam.

In 1995 Andy penned his autobiography titling it A Knight in Africa: Journey From Bukene. President Ben Mkapa launched it and showered Andy with praise calling him a Tanzanian patriot. He recounted that 38 years ago Jayantilal Chande had managed his nationalised company as if it was still his own, meaning he did an excellent job for the state.

A simple down-to-earth individual, Andy had from the start disapproved of the Ujamaa policies but he also saw the merits as that of marshalling resources for procuring and marketing the produce of Tanzania’s peasant farmers in the collective villages.

This single leap of faith in Tanzania had resulted in a life time of service to the nation. President Jakaya Kikwete described Sir Andy as an exceptional nationalist. He was also honoured in 2005 by the President of India with the prestigious Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Award, which is the highest recognition India gives to a member of its diaspora.

Andy passed away on 6 April 2017 in Nairobi, Kenya, following a short illness and was cremated at the Hindu Cemetery in Dar es Salaam. He is survived by his wife, Jayalaxmi Chande, three sons and three grand children.

History will remember Sir Jayantilal Keshavji Chande as the man who stood by his country and its leader in difficult times and never faltered. A man of rare integrity and intellect, he was a gentle, modest and resourceful man who passionately believed in the service and development of his fellow human beings in Tanzania and beyond.

 

Last modified on Sunday, 09 July 2017 23:13

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