Antoinette de Souza RIP


(Posted 02nd September 2019)


Shocking news reached me while in South Africa for a tourism conference last week, that only months after my long time friend Lewis de Souza had passed, his wife Antoinette de Souza was also called home by the Lord.
Notably had we all last met on the sidelines of World Travel Market Africa last year in Cape Town and while in touch through social media did we after that never meet again in this lifetime.


The news of Lewis’ passing reached me while in Cape Town, for another tourism conference, and left me lost for words. One thing led to another and a subsequent trip to Europe for a couple of months then made it impossible to come to Nairobi to meet Antoinette and express my condolences to her in person and again did email and messages have to suffice. I knew that come the Magical Kenya Travel Expo in October we would no doubt catch up in person as we did so often before, but alas, this was not to be.


I am not sure when first we met but it must have been soon after my arrival in Kenya in the mid 70’s, when I made it a point to meet the travel, tour and hospitality trade’s who is who in Nairobi, to introduce myself and get to know who I was dealing with face to face.
Antoinette and Lewis just had their daughter Heather-Gail at the time and Antoinette was already working for East African Airways, later joining Kenya Airways after the collapse of EAA and the first edition of the EAC had come to an end.
I was always intrigued that Antoinette would have been working for the CID in Nairobi before she joined the airline business but those details she never shared with me.
Antoinette retired from Kenya Airways in 2004 after 27 years of service with the airline and had of course spent additional years with EAA before, making the airline business he lifetime profession.

When Lewis passed did Antoinette step up to take on the position of Chairperson of the Board of Directors of Visit Africa – a position he held for many years -and a task she carried out to the moment of her passing.

Lewis initially worked for Block Hotels before he started Mini Cabs and Tours, his first own venture. He subsequently worked for a number of years for Intra Safaris / Franco Rosso before eventually going independent again with the launch of Visit Africa in 1984.
Antoinette and Lewis were doting on each other and this year reached their Golden Wedding Jubilee, though it turned out not to be a year of celebrations for the de Souza family but one of saying good bye to their loved ones.

While we did not see much of each other over the past years, especially since I moved to Uganda in the early 90’s, when we did meet it was as if a conversation paused would simply be continued. Lewis and I had our personal joke as I would pretend not to know him before we dropped the act and to the amazement of onlookers hugged and slapped each others backs.

We both loved our Dachshound dogs, aka sausage dogs or Dackel in German and exchanged pictures and anecdotes about their nosey behaviour, causing laughter down the lanes of cyberspace.

Lewis was as fine a gentleman as I could find as a friend and Antoinette, while otherwise a no nonsense person tolerating no fools, too became a good friend, to a large part over our very similar views on tourism in East Africa in general and aviation in particular. I held her, as I did with Lewis, in very high esteem, as persons as well as professionals.

I mourn both of them and stand reminded that, looking at turning 70 at the next turn of the clock, it is almost inevitable that good friends of their kind are gradually getting less and less – though losing the two of them in the space of a few months was a huge shock which to this moment has me often sit still and remember our good times together, now only alive in my own memories like those of other friend I lost over the past years.

To Heather-Gail and the entire de Souza family and the staff at Visit Africa go my sincere condolences once again and my deepest sympathy.

Until we meet again you two, our sausage dogs no doubt in tow, checking on us where we went to.