‘Ikbal Jannif, A Great Friend, Honorary Brother’

“My earliest memories were of his birthdays when a group of us would go to his home to celebrate with his sisters and parents. What a treat! “
08 Aug 2021 14:13
‘Ikbal Jannif, A Great Friend, Honorary Brother’
From left: Late Caines Jannif Ltd chief executive officer and Pacific Fishing Company Pte Limited (PAFCO) chairman Ikbal Jannif, Kelsey Jannif, twin sister Stephanie, Bernard Chandra, 50 years after the Jannifs married and Stephanie was the bridesmaid and Bernard, the bestman.

Rest in peace our dear friend. You did not betray us, you did not slow down and you served and exceeded your purpose in this life for all of us. 

These were the words of Bernard Chandra, as he paid tribute to his former schoolmate and dear friend, prominent business leader and Caines Jannif Ltd chief executive officer Ikbal Jannif.

The 76-year-old passed away in Suva on Wednesday, at the Oceania Hospital after a short illness. He was laid to rest yesterday.

Mr Chandra, said: “Ikbal and I grew up together from Class One in 1951 at St Columba’s, all the way to the end of High School at MBHS Suva. We have since remained friends and in contact.

“My earliest memories were of his birthdays when a group of us would go to his home to celebrate with his sisters and parents. What a treat!”

Former Director of Adminstration and Finance, World Health Organisation said as the only son, Ikbal was pampered but never showed it!

“There was a lot of love in this family. I know this has continued with Ikbal’s own pride and love for his family and his grandchildren in particular.

“In 1970 I had the privilege to be best man at his wedding in 1970. Bridesmaid to Kelsey was her twin sister Stephanie. The four of us met again in 2019 during a reunion. I have also been privileged to know Kelsey since then. She has remained a steadfast partner, a loving wife and his business manager all through the years.

“Our paths diverged when I went international and he returned to Fiji after his studies in NZ.

“He remained in Fiji since then. He was one of the few left in Fiji from our class of 59 and one I knew would be there to take me to lunch and a chat whenever I returned home. He was a steady rock among the changing local scenario.

“I will not repeat his many achievements but I have followed his illustrious career with pride and awe. In his quiet and modest way he has done so much for Fiji and for the Marist Brothers, for which we are indebted.

“As a person Ikbal was soft spoken, dressed well and was very knowledgeable.”

Mr Chandra remembers him as a true and reliable friend, ready with advice and assistance.

“He had a quiet sense of humour but was ready to challenge anyone in a discussion, without rancour or anger. He was a very efficient organiser.

“Recently I worked with him and another classmate, Andrew Drysdale, on producing a Book of Memoirs from 13 of our Marist Class of 59. I thus had an opportunity of working closely with him.

“I better understood how he has handled so many responsible positions in the efficient way he guided us to the final production and distribution of the book.

In conclusion I wish to quote the last paragraph from his story in our Book of Memoirs.

“This was written last year.

“I will be 76 in December, have had 2 stents put in, and cataracts removed from both eyes. My two close friends in Suva with whom I have lunch regularly are now retired, and are encouraging me to follow suit.

“Am I ready to retire? I don’t think so.

“My cardiologist once told me that we were all put on this earth for a purpose, and by retiring, I would be betraying the intentions of my maker. I may start thinking of slowing down soon.For the present though, it’s business as usual.”

“Rest in peace our dear friend. You did not betray us, you did not slow down and you served and exceeded your purpose in this life for all of us.”


Another friend of Mr Jannif, who is a Family Law Solicitor, Arvind Pillay said: “I first met Ikbal when we were in Class 8 at St. Columbus and have remained friends ever since.

“We lost touch for a while after High School when I worked at the sugar mills but caught up again when both of us ended up at Auckland University.

“Ikbal, Shareen and Doreen always welcomed visitors and opened their house to students from Fiji.

“We lost touch again as Ikbal returned to Fiji and I moved to Western Australia but caught up again some years later.

Mr Pillay said Mr Jannif was committed to education in Fiji.

“He was made a honorary brother as a result of his work with the Marist Brothers.

“He was behind the setting up of the Vatuwaqa Marist College.

“This was a project he was very proud of. He was on the board for univesitiesand a few other educational institutions and his main focus was better education for our young people.

“To lose such a dedicated person, a true gentleman and a wonderful friend will be difficult to cope with.

“Ikbal, RIP dear friend. To Kelsey and family I can’t describe how I feel at the moment except an incredible sense of loss,” Mr Pillay said.

Another friend and former Human Resources consultant Raveen Pillay said: “A close friend and an older brother figure and mentor, Ikbal Jannif’s passing away is a great loss to all Fijians and people from overseas who knew him.

“Like his father before him, the late Ben Jannif, Ikbal was relentless in his pursuit for the services and well being of the peoples of Fiji.

“The contribution he made for the welfare of society is unparalleled as there were so many.

“His contribution to Education, NGO’s, Charitable Organisations and Civil Society is unprecedented.

“His work ethics and his active roles in various Educational Boards and committees, and appointments as Acting Chancellor at USP and Acting Vice Chancellor at FNU were highly appreciated and recognised by both institutions and the Academia. As a result he was awarded an Honorary Doctor’s degree by USP.

“My links with him began at MBHS and at Auckland University and later for 45 years of our working lives.

“Our friendship and bond has always been steadfast and his advice always measured, well researched and worthy.

“His love for his family, as a loving and devoted husband, father and grandfather will be an example to others who knew him.

“These past years hold special, fond and cherished memories for all and his legacy will be hard to fulfill.

“He will be sadly missed and may he be welcomed back with peace and harmony in the realms of this vast Universe,” Raveen Pillay said.


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