Satwant Singh Matharoo, like Sir Mohinder Dillon was a proud Sikh. He joined Africa Pix a few months before I did eventually became Mohinder’s right hand man. We were all independent cameramen/journalists.
Jon R Noble ACS
Satwant Singh Matharoo was my hero in every respect. He came one day from nowhere through a friend asking for a job of a photographer and he said to me he had very basic education and no formal training as a photographer. I said “that makes two of us and when can you start?” He was puzzled and smiled in surprise, neither him nor me looked back. I taught him the basic rules of filming and his very first story was used by an international news TV agency.
Satwant was very well spoken, polite and very dedicated to his profession and humanity. His last words during a two-minute interview were “you won’t regret taking me on”. He would have still been working with me as the opportunities were unlimited. He had his own personal reasons for making the move mainly because his entire family moved to England. After the British Prime Minister Harold MacMillan famous speech in which he said “Wind of change is blowing across Africa” declaring time was ripe for a black majority rule in Africa. This resulted in Satwant and myself covering the independence ceremonies of Ex-British colonies in East and Central African countries going through the process of Independence. My company consisting of myself, Satwant, other photographers and filmmakers soon become the largest news pictures and TV news agency in Africa.
Satwant was a pillar of strength and I gave him responsibilities that were quite demanding, creative work like shooting a documentary on Ethiopia called “Progressive Land” using 35mm motion films format which has Hollywood quality. Emperor Selassie gave him highest compliment. News filming comes with its perils, like when Satwant was beaten up by Uganda’s President Obote security after a failed assassination attempt on President Obote. His crime was asking whether he could film the president.
Traveling with Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia, we had to wear well-tailored suits from Paris even during the heat of places like Thailand and India. Our names were on the Royal list and we were treated like Royalty. This was hard work but fun. He always cherished his time in Africa, Asia.
Satwant came from a sporting family well known in East Africa. He was lucky that he had a life partner Naseem Rajwani and it was a perfect marriage made in heaven. Soon after dear Naseem’s death his psychological and physical health went down too fast. I along with others tried our best. I for one will miss him as long as I live. If you want to read more about Satwant I urge you to read my autobiography “My Camera My Life”.
My biographers gave him full credit. I get emails and phone messages from our colleges as far as Australia, Japan, USA who enjoyed working with Satwant. He followed the Sikh teachings “humility is a virtue and arrogance is a crime”.
May God keep my beloved brother Satwant in peace.
Sir Mohinder Dillon