By Iain Triay Clarence
It’s said we live as long as our name is still spoken, that beyond the years we spend on Earth, some part of us endures – a ripple in the thoughts and actions of those we leave behind. We are drawn to great influence, we are moved by great tragedy, and both give us reason to bestow long life on our brother, Kabir.
Last July, news reached Gibraltar that still, at times, feels unreal. The unthinkable had befallen an organised trip to Ghana with Help Me Learn Africa; following a successful project, Kabir Advani was found unresponsive in his tent, the day before he had been due to come home.
Back on the Rock, desperate confusion turned to grief among his friends and family. A month shy of his 33rd birthday, Kabir had been taken from us. So young that his loss would have cut deeply regardless, but the impact he had on those around him, his importance in the lives of so many, saw the pain of his absence rip through the community. The crowds that gathered to pay their final respects were testament to the reach he had in life.
Companion, mentor, confidant; only in the days and months that followed has it really become apparent how far his influence spread and just how many of us found comfort in the connection we had only with Kabir. Even beyond his immediate circle of friends, many have since recounted similar experiences and moments, of bonds forged by late night conversations, by his empathy and guidance.
He took steps to effect real change – Kabir was a doer.
Younger generations will know Kabir as the creator and organiser of Dazed & Confused, which showcased what he did best; a synthesis of his love for music, desire to bring people together and meticulous eye for detail.
Events run at a loss were no issue as long as everyone enjoyed themselves. When money started to flow, Kabir began channelling it to a cause that would grow increasingly close to his heart. The trip to Ghana represented the culmination of a growing partnership with Help Me Learn Africa; not satisfied with helping fund the work from afar, he wanted to live the experience, confront the reality faced by the underprivileged and be an active part of the solution.
The time in Africa fulfilled a long-held desire to visit a continent he felt strong affinity for. Messages he sent home conveyed a sense of purpose found and real happiness. Moreover, his intentions for the future were brought into sharp focus.
The project in Ghana was to be a launchpad for Kabir’s own endeavours, learning all he could with the intention (as ever) of applying this knowledge in his own life. These were the first words of what was to be a new chapter.
He has planted a seed, it is our duty to ensure it grows.
Already there were plans to return, to organise support for people he had met. All that kept him from extending his stay was the upcoming, final edition of Dazed & Confused: ‘The Last Dance’, the end of an era. As he put it, the brand no longer represented where he was in life or his state of mind.
The uncertainty that coloured earlier years had given way to clarity. He grew as a man, grew in confidence and took steps to effect real change in his life. Kabir was a doer.
The life-long asthmatic who never played sports was now fitter than he’d ever been. The picky eater who refused everything except crisps on his first visit to India now laboured over his cuisine, scolding you for not eating healthily enough – a night and day transformation in some respects. More accurately, it was a hard-earned evolution. So, simply put, we can’t let his efforts go to waste. We won’t.
As the dust settled last July, Dazed & Confused hung in limbo and seemed destined to crumble without Kabir’s lead. A spark of motivation spurred family and friends to pick up where he had left off and make the party happen, although public health concerns over Covid would ultimately lead to its cancellation. But there will be a Last Dance. More importantly, that motivation stemmed from a simple observation: it’s what Kabir would have wanted.
The Kabir Ramchandani Foundation is born of this same premise. Ramchandani for his family name, for his mother and uncles, for the grandparents whose love meant so much in his youth, for those who raised the man we knew. We will honour his name and let him work through us.
This journey begins in the expectation that we and the Foundation grow into a movement that Kabir would have been proud of. It’s a high bar. We will first provide support to existing charities and projects on the Rock, learning, adapting and planning for the future. Worthy causes in Gibraltar have been identified, while the intention is also to pick up where Kabir left off with Help Me Learn Africa.
There is a buzz of positivity around the table as possibilities for the foundation are discussed, for what we need to get done now, for what we may one day achieve. All the while reminding ourselves that, if we are going to do this, we need to do things right. It’s the only way he operated.
Many of us now carry a piece of Kabir’s light – it’s a silver lining to the dark cloud of his loss. And while a deep sadness will always accompany his memory, the thought of who he would have been, it also urges us into action.
He has planted a seed, it is our duty to ensure it grows. We are the people.