A couple of people have asked me how I select the subjects for my blog. I told them the catalyst is usually something I read or information sent to me.

I was recently sent pictures of my high school, Allidina Visram HS, in Mombasa, Kenya (thanks Prem Saint) and it brought back a flood of memories as well as a chance to reflect and ruminate on four critical years I spent there before I left for England to pursue Chartered Accountancy. AVHS looking at the pictures appears to be in remarkably good condition and exactly like I remember it from almost 50 years ago!

AVHS, was probably the premier high school for Asian students in Mombasa. Kenya was still a British colony and education like many other facets of life was racially segregated in practice, if not the law. It was a high school for boys since the sexes were also segregated. The school was built by a philanthropist after whom it was named. The only students allowed admission into AVHS were Indians, Pakistanis and Arabs. There were other schools for Africans (the term used to describe the indigenous people) and for Europeans (the term used to describe anyone who was white). Almost all of the teachers were Asians though there were a few who were British, one Canadian and a couple from Australia. My father, AG Joseph, taught English there from the early fifties until 1961 and my brother, George, taught Economics at AVHS from 1960 to 1966.

One of the striking contrasts in terms of the education at AVHS and the schools in the US are the methodologies used and what was deemed the norm. Teachers were not allowed to paddle students but errant students would be sent to the principal where one was “caned” on the buttocks. The severity of the caning would range from one strike to a maximum of six. There was no need for any parental notification and students who were caned were anxious that their parents knew nothing of it – and if they did, it would probably mean a round of punishment at home as well! Teachers disciplinary methods included making an errant student stand on his chair for all or part of the duration of the class while all the other students were seated! If one were the victim of this punishment, it was not so much a humiliation as much as a feeling of sheepishness and concern about not losing one’s balance while standing!

The high school consisted of four grades (to use US parlance) before one graduated. What was amazing, upon reflection, is that each grade had four “streams” (A to D) consisting of about 30 students in each stream. The brightest students were in stream A and the least academically proficient were in stream D! So it was considered to be very much the norm to, in effect, “label” the students as being “bright” or “less than bright” (being polite) from the very start. Once one ended up in a particular stream, it was usually not easy to be “upgraded” because it required someone else to be “down-graded” to maintain class size. Upon reflection, it really was a very retrograde system though we never had a second thought about it. Just as we never had a second thought about the races being segregated.

We were graded on “marks” received out of one hundred. The passing grade was around 40 and anything over 70 was considered to be a “distinction”. Scoring over 70 in any subject other than mathematics was a rarity. If one scored as high as 80 one was considered to be a genius! Very different than the grading in the US! Each month and at the end of each term (semester) the cumulative “marks” obtained in each subject was posted for every student on the notice board in the class and we were all ranked based on those marks from the first to the last! The ranking was something that anyone could view – whether from within the class or from another class! I think part of the thinking was that publicizing the results like this would motivate students by encouraging those who did well and humiliating those who did not so that they would strive harder. Never mind that any such ranking system would inevitably result in someone being ranked first and someone else being ranked last no matter how well the latter fared overall!

The education we received was generally excellent and the culmination was having to sit an exam called the Senior Cambridge which was conducted under the auspices of Cambridge University – the questions were formulated there and the exams were evaluated there as well.

Kenya was still a British colony and the text books were generally by British authors with all of the biases one would associate with a colonial regime. For example, we were taught that Columbus “discovered” America and Vasco da Gama “discovered” India! Never a suggestion that both countries existed well before they were “discovered” and no suggestion that, perhaps, both these explorers were the first ones from Europe to visit these countries. But we students would repeat all of this as a matter of routine.

We were taught British history including British rule in India. The text books referred to the Indian Mutiny in 1857 when Indian soldiers “mutinied” against their British masters. We came to accept that what occurred was this unlawful rebellious group of soldiers acted against the legitimate authority. Never a second thought about its implication that British rule was legitimate. We were taught that the main reason for the mutiny was that “the sepoys had to bite a newly issued bullet cartridge open. It was believed that the paper cartridges that were standard issue with the rifle were greased with lard (pork fat) which was regarded as unclean by Muslims, or tallow (beef fat), regarded as anathema to Hindus” as quoted from Wikipedia. The reasons were much more complex and Wikipedia offers some interesting background. Today the so-called “mutiny” is referred to by other labels such as “India’s First War of Independence”.

Much of what we learned had a Euro-centric focus. All the great discoveries in the sciences, mathematics and the arts were attributable to the West. I don’t recall a single discovery being taught to us as having emanated from a non-Western country, whether it be China or India or Middle Eastern countries. My brother, George, wrote an authoritative book called “The Crest of the Peacock” which focuses on the Euro-centric slant with regard to mathematics that exists to this day and the lack of recognition of the considerable contributions of other countries and cultures.

A recent blog entry regarding a speech by Dr Karl Paulnack about the contribution of the Greeks to music brought forth these comments in an email from a friend:

“Whether it was the Greeks or the early Indians ( Saraswats) who considered music as an integral element of life is I suppose a position one may take depending on their upbringing but in my childhood I was told those many stories about early Indian holy scriptures, Goddess Saraswati was the one who was revered as embodying the value of art, music and knowledge. Her images are always shown as holding a musical instrument.

Then of course we have Krishna and his flute. Some of the stories I have read, the effect of his flute playing had on ‘ gopies ‘ in essence is what appears to be the key thrust of Paulnack’s speech.”

But these thoughts about Euro-centrism, text books authored with a decidedly colonial bias, etc were things we never even thought about. It was a much simpler time in many ways. We were wonderfully happy in our school which overlooked the Arabian Sea. There was never a thought about integrating schools or fighting the system. Our fondest hope was to complete the Cambridge School Certificate with a First Grade and, at the least, obtain a Second Grade!

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206 Responses to “Reminiscences about Allidina Visram High School”

  1. Peter Melvin Braganza says:

    Hello to all Allidinians

    was there from 1981-1986 both O and A levels
    Have made contacts with most of my classmate through facebook but would like to contact anyone else who remembers me

  2. bing says:

    What’s up mates, how is everything, and what you wish for to
    say regarding this article, in my view its genuinely awesome designed for me.

  3. Hussein Ahmed says:

    we are in a process of celebrating 100yrs of Allidina Visram High school.
    currently we r building database either thru the school web site or plse get to the deputy via this email
    Cc: Dishon Indimuli <indimulidishon@yahoo.c

  4. Mohtashim Shaikh says:

    I was a student until 1968. Left in a hurry during the asian exodus to UK.
    Was known as Moe, given to me by my maths teacher Mr Randall. I wonder where he ended up. Think often of AVHS. A wonderful school.

    Now am retired after a long career as Engineer/Project Manager in the Natural Gas industry in UK, and the middle east.


  5. subhash I patel says:

    I was there from 1962-1965. Have been looking for a colleague KISHORE U SOLANKI. would be grateful to receive any information on his whereabout. Last I heard was when he was in Sunderland studying Pharmacology. Subhash

  6. Ruth says:

    Lovely to read your comments. My dad taught geography there between 1958 and 1961. He organised a safari round East Africa for pupils. I went along with my mum and baby sister (I have photos of all the pupils, teachers etc. in front of the bus…with a carrycot holding centre stage!) I was very little at the time but remember going with my dad to the school at the weekend and keeping him company as he ran papers off the Banda machine for his classes. Dad later taught at the Kampala Aga Khan, which I also attended as a pupil, until sadly we had to return to the UK when Idi Amin got into power.

  7. Sotantar Sood says:

    Hi Ruth:

    I think that I was on that school bus trip to Lushoto, Moshi and Arusha with your Dad and family. I believe it was 1961 or 1962. We had a great time.

    So, your Dad must be Mr. Whitelaw, who I remember very well.

  8. Howdy! This is my first comment here so I just wanted to give a quick shout out and tell you I truly enjoy reading through your blog posts.
    Can you recommend any other blogs/websites/forums that deal with the same
    topics? Thank you!

  9. Daniel Mwanzia says:

    Hi Comrades!

    I was there between 2002 and 2005 both years inclusive. My brother was the Deputy Principal and used to teach us Geography then. Wow! what fond memories. I was in North all through (Form 1 to 4). We were also posting some very impressive results. AVHS taught me service, humility and resillience….no matter how hard you worked, A grades were out of bounds in all internal exams – well till we sat for KNEC exams – KCSE. I’m very grateful to having passed through a team of very dedicated teachers there! God bless AVHS.

  10. Yisha berhe says:

    I was a student at Allidina Visram 1981 graduated 1981

  11. shamir shah says:

    I was at AVHS from 1964 to 1968 and am now residing in London, UK. Would love to hear from fellow students who were at the school around same time.

  12. jay shah says:

    Hi all students who were there 1962 to 1966 I met subshas in swimming in harrow leisure centre I am looking for Bharat shavadia saroj and his twin brother very clever in all subjects now in London harrow uk please reply via email

  13. Peter Wambua Komo says:

    I was in allidina between 80 and 83 before I went to kwale high school for my A levels, our principal was the late Abdul rahman nganje, my classmates watitwa masieyi, hon mwadime mp mwatate juma Patrick, Milan shah, raghu ramana kowshik Charles kp William abson Charo clement wandera. Currently I am in makueni County.

  14. Bina Wilson says:


    My Father was born in Eldoret in 1936. He ate would have attended Allidina Visram high school in the late 40’s to early 50’s.
    We know nothing about dad’s education, what he achieved etc. I was wandering if there were any data to say what his education was, what certificates he achieved. His name was Karnail Singh Ghatauroa (spellings of surname vary)..
    Hope someone can help put the pieces together

  15. Farmanali Datoo says:

    I am not sure if this site is now defunct! Anyhoo I thought I would give it a try.

    I was briefly (Jan – July 1961) at AVHS after Senior Cambridge. The form V group I was with are interested in the AVHS Centennial and would like to attend.

    If anyone has any information, I would appreciate a response.

    I currently live in Washington DC USA

  16. Hameed Husein says:

    I studied at AVHS from Jan 1968 to November 1969 as a 6th Form Medical student. I was Captain of the Football Team and an Atlas House Member. I have wonderful memories. I wonder where did my fellow students from Arts and Engineering end up. I am in Halifax UK retired after being a Senior Lecturer in Applied Social Sciences. People I remember are Alvarro, Stephanie, Salma Lyall, Farida, Fatima, Najma, Zoro. Teachers I remember Mr Baig ( Biology), Mr Brown ( Principal) Mr Taylor ( Physics) , Mr Randall, Mr Heavens ( English). Bless them all wherever they are. Best Wishes.

  17. Jacob H. Ochola says:

    Hi guys
    very nice to have been reminded about my former school – AVHS, used to be the best in the coast province then.I first attended Buxton Primary school(later changed to R. G. Ngala). I attended AVHS from 1979 – 1982 for my O levels; I was in form 1 South all through to 4 South then later did my A levels – form 5 & 6 Biology. A very beautiful school indeed. I learnt to have a friendly nature and humility amongst many other things. The late Abdul Rehman Nganje was our head teacher then he was replaced by Tom Mokua. I like visiting that area anytime am in Mombasa. Good old memories indeed!

  18. Beda otieka says:

    Hi, I was a student at AVHS year 1977 to 1980 joined form one North, anyone who was there during that like get in touch

  19. Shishir P. Pandya says:

    I understand the School had been preparing to Celebrate the last 100 Years and had been collecting information and preparing database of past students. I also understood that there was a historical publication under preparation.

    Any information on how this has progressed?

  20. maha168 says:

    Excellent web site. Plenty of useful information here.

    I’m sending it to a few pals ans additionally sharing in delicious.
    And naturally, thanks for your sweat!

  21. Mahendra Dave says:

    What! Not a single person from my batch (1963-1966) in the above messages from distinguished doctors, engineers and all? I am a published author, now in Atlanta, did my MBBS at TNMC. Azgar and Akbar would come to my house early before sunrise, to go out for a run. Rohit (a year senior to me) and I used to go regularly on Sundays to the Lighthouse for mogo and madafu, but the miyembe with pili pili were the best! Mr. Ijaz Ali was always there with his beautiful wife, and always ready to have a friendly chat. And the “bor” tree at the school fed me a bit. On my way home, Sudhir would sometimes climb up a jambu tree (I was too scared to climb trees), and then we had a feast. Kikowani and Kaloleni were my foundation schools. And Nyoka Jonathan approved my Venturer badge. Haya, badayee! (No, not a bad day, but a very good day.)

  22. I was in allidina from 1980: to 1983, before I went to kwale high school for my A levels,after that I trained as a teacher,moving to machakos,I then went to Kampala international university to undertake a degree in education,my class mates we’re juma Patrick,faghu rammana,watitwa,

  23. maha8.com says:

    There is certainly a great deal to learn about this subject.
    I like all of the points you made.

  24. Interesting to read about the senior Alumni, I feel a young Alumni of AVHS. 1986 YO 1989, 1st lot of KCSE 8-4-4 System of education. A 100 years of Allidina Visram commitee has been set up. Contact me if anyone is interested. There is an Old Allidinian What’s App group. The formal Allidina Old Boys Association as a has been registered recently. Mohamedebrahim22@hotmail.com

  25. Harjinder S Gill says:

    Re: Wish to set up a $500 a year scholarship. Please help!!

    Hi All:
    My name is Harjinder S Gill and I studied in AlliDina Visram School from 1959 to 1962, and then I was sent to UK by my parents. Now is my time to give back to this great school that gave me so much.

    I want to set up a small scholarship called, “Guru Nanak Scholarship.” At the end of the academic year, the person whose stands first in each section in each class will be given $20 USA. (I was always in Section C, hence the reason why all sections are included.)
    So I am looking at a scholarship of roughly $500 a year.

    I have been trying to set up such a scholarship for years. Someone, please help me!

    God bless.

    Harry Gill

  26. Joseph Mwangi says:

    I was in Allidina for 6 years from 1972 to 1977 six years and my late brother Peter Frelimo Mubia 1969-1972 and now live in Melbourne, Australia. We have many big names in both business and public service who should be approached to be part of the centenary celebrations. I have very fond memories of my time in Allidina under great teachers like Francis Noronha, Tony Fernandes, Bill Holmes, Citing a, Okwiya, S.Maneno, Mehta, Mascarenhas, Lavingia, Wigglesworh and Shihabudin Chiragdin

  27. Joseph Mwangi says:

    I was in Allidina for 6 years from 1972 to 1977 six years and my late brother Peter Frelimo Mubia 1969-1972 and now live in Melbourne, Australia. We have many big names in both business and public service who should be approached to be part of the centenary celebrations. I have very fond memories of my time in Allidina under great teachers like Francis Noronha, Tony Fernandes, Bill Holmes, Gitonga, Okwiya, S.Maneno, Mehta, Mascarenhas, Lavingia, Wigglesworh and Shihabudin Chiragdin

  28. Anonymous says:

    Ex alidinian. 1961 to 64.dr saleem Malik. Presently practicing in Mumbai. Looking forward to participating in centenary celebration

  29. Vijay Sharma says:

    I attended AVHS for two years – 1973-1975. My family emigrated to England in 1975. I represented AVHS in Field Hockey, Cricket and Softball. I currently live in Santa Barbara, CA, USA

  30. Ashok Sharma says:

    I was from the class of 68 I remember Hameed well.I represented the school hockey and volleyball team. Also played for Sikh Union and Mombasa then played for a premier club in London league and for the County.
    You mentioned Salma and Farida they were dynamites . You also had
    Zeenat Darr, Fazlu and Shafkat in your year does anyone know about their whereabouts. I discovered that Zoro died in a tragic accident.
    Happy days in retirement Hameed. We use to have regular reunions for the old Allidinians in London but this fizzled out due to lack of interest.

  31. Gemma Sequeira says:

    Hi, I have the Allidina Book of 1961. My Uncle taught Chemistry at the Higher School certificate classes in 1957…

  32. Hameed Husein says:

    This is a message for Ashok Sharma. Contact me and I will fill you on Salma, Fazlu, Fatima, Najma, Farida and Zoro.

  33. Ashok Sharma says:

    Good to hear from Hameed
    Please drop me an email we can then exchange the contact number
    It will be great to know the where about of Zeenat Daar as well

  34. Wilson Chiko says:

    My name is Wilson Chiko (Form IV class 1971):
    I saw this forum and I was more excited than words can describe. I am about to retire from teaching at Daystar University.
    I need to know if there will ever be a reunion of all accessible alumni.
    The other thing is personal. I wish to find, if anyone can volunteer, to get in touch with Jayantilal and Kirit(I don’t know their other names.
    Please, please, please, my love for Allidina Visram is ever alive.
    Love you all.

  35. Anonymous says:

    My message for Hameed Husein on Feb 26 remains unanswered
    Please drop me an email on aprgx@aol.com

  36. Ashok Sharma says:

    Judging by the low interest may I please request Mr Joseph to freshen up the website by introducing a new icon headed ‘where are they now’ giving name, Year completed the school, Line of Business and where resident and the email address
    On another note Pindi Tamana, Social Secretary of Allidinians UK has announced that AVHS will be celebrating its centenary in September 2023.
    This will take place in Mombasa with an official banquet , beach parties and time to meet the Alumni of AVHS.
    For those who are unable to go to Mombasa there will be a centenary event in London – the committee will announce the date in due course.
    Please contact the following for further details
    Perminder Tamana at permindertamana@gmail.com
    Pravin Pandya at pandyapravinm@gmail.com
    Nitin Pandya at abacus@questkenya.com

  37. TJ says:

    Ashok, I sent you an email regarding your comments using the address you provided and it got bounced. Is there another email that I can use?

  38. Ashok Sharma says:

    Email address submitted

  39. Ashok Sharma says:

    For TJ – I was expecting an email from you please send it to aprgx@aol.com

  40. situs alternatif depobola says:

    What a data of un-ambiguity and preserveness of precious knowledge regarding unpredicted emotions.

  41. Anonymous says:

    I had been in Alidina in 1955 to 1960s. Had Kashmiri Lal, L.Bassi, M.Sadiq etc as headmaster and superb teachers like Joseph, Talwar, D’Costa, Soares, T.Pereira, and others.I had visited the school twice in later years and see lots of changes. The group is now scattered taking old memories with them. All the best for the new group.

  42. charanjit s rakalla says:

    I was a student at AVHS from 1952-1956.Some of us went to India in a so called student ship named Amra.I went to fergusson college Poona university.Lots of my classmates went to Baroda[gujarat] or Bombay.I lost contact with them since.I was caned once by then principal M. sadiq for drawing the picture of our math teacher on the Blackboard , before he came to the class.I mostly stayed in A section except briefly for 3 months in B after my grade in History in 8A dropped gelow the expected.My father worked as a chief clerk in the head office mostly in Nairobi,but we also kept getting transferred to different parts of East Africa.I studied for 6 months in Uasin Gishu Elementary school in Eldoret.In AVHS my desk was located at the window facing Nyali FLOATING Bridge and the Indian Oceon.A classmate of mine and I were sent by our class teacher to work for 2 weeks at the Mombasa Social Survey Department where we were told to get the statistics of different tribes and survey the living conditions of the Households.This was during our senior year.If any one of my classmates are stil around then please get in touch with me.Currently I am aretired surgeon in U.S.A.Thanks

  43. TJ says:

    charanjit s rakalla, thanks for posting about your background and memories of your time at AVHS and East Africa. This blog entry started as nothing more than some of my memories of the time I spent at AVHS but it has drawn a lot of comments from people of varying backgrounds. My father, AG Joseph, taught at AVHS for over 15 years …… he taught English and was a teacher when Kashmirilal, Siddiq and Davies were principal at the school.

  44. Atul says:

    Hi. My name is Atul Shah. I’m a Kenyan-Canadian born and bred in Nairobi (Jamhuri High School) but currently living in Canada.

    My uncle, Uttamchand Govindji Shah, attended Allidina in the 1930s and matriculated in 1938 or 1939 (I think he’s the O. G. Shah in the list of graduates in 1939 as he might have spelt his first name with an O rather than a U). He was born in Mombasa in 1923 and was very fond of his days at Allidina. Unfortunately, he passed away last year at the age of 97. I wondering if anyone on this blog can send me the name and contact details of the current headmaster – I would like to learn more about his days at the school.

    Thank you.

  45. Anonymous says:

    Khalid Chaudry was in the class of 1967 who moved to Pakistan for further education. Please let me know if anyone is aware of his where about

  46. Ashok Sharma says:

    Message for Hameed Husein
    Do drop me a a few words on aprgx@aol.com as I am keen to know about the old friends

  47. RS says:

    I spent 6 wonderful years at AVHS, starting with form 1 and finishing with form 6 in 1968. I specially remember Shiraz, Vijay and Sarosh from forms 5 and 6. Of course who can forget Felix and Michael who were members of a band. I still recall Felix singing “Satisfaction” by the Rolling Stones in the assembly hall on the second floor. Does anyone know where Felix is?
    I am currently Professor of Physics at a university in US and still working long hours in lab.
    Wish you all the best.

  48. Kirit Amin says:

    I am an Allidinian from 1960-1963. Would love to get in touch with any class mates of that time. AVHS was a great school and have a lots of fond memories. Mombasa was just a fun town to grow up in and roam the streets on bicycles. It would be so great to see if we can connect and recall all the fond memories

  49. Kirit Amin says:

    By the way if anyone remembers me from the class of 1960-1963 my email is kirit2amin@yahoo.com. Please feel free to drop a line.

  50. Anonymous says:

    RS., I was at AVHS from 1963 – 1968. passed Camrbridge ‘O’ levels in 1966 and A levels in 1968. We had Dhirajlal Shah, Mahendra Dave, VAsant Dave, Sudhir Lakhani, Rajendera Solanki, Akbar Panju, Any contacts??? Dr Asgar Moledina

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