Obituary: Sir Philip Rogers

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The Independent Online
Philip James Rogers, businessman: born 19 September 1908; served Royal West African Frontier Force and Intelligence Corps 1940-44; President, Nigeria Chamber of Commerce 1948, 1950; Chairman, East African Tobacco Co Ltd 1951-63; CBE 1952; Chairman, Rift Valley Cigarette Co Ltd 1956-63; President, Nairobi Chamber of Commerce 1957; Chairman, Governing Council, Royal Technical College of East Africa 1958-60; Kt 1961; Chairman, Tobacco Research Council 1963-71; married 1939 Brenda Sharp (died 1993); died Newick, East Sussex 16 April 1994.

IN TWO great countries of post- war colonial Africa, Nigeria and Kenya, Philip Rogers earned and received respect and affection and in both he made abiding contributions to their progress towards independence.

After being educated at Blundell's, Rogers joined the British American Tobacco Company, with which he was to make his working life; and, posted to Nigeria, he began his years of success not only as a businessman but also in a wide variety of voluntary service. He was blessed with many quiet talents and always sought to make effective use of those talents for the benefit of others.

Of all his blessings he would certainly rate highest his marriage in 1939 with Brenda Sharp and their joint endeavours over 50 years until her death last year. Both of them had a compulsion to serve their fellows and a determination to make that service effective, no matter the difficulties. After the Second World War and service respectively in the Royal West African Frontier Force and the Red Cross, they returned to Nigeria. Quite soon the consequences of transforming colonial government into self-government and independence manifested themselves and new tasks in the business world as well as in government demanded new energies and new thinking. Rogers showed that he had both. Usefulness in membership of chambers of commerce, trade advisory committees and the like led to appointment to the Legislative Council and a consequent influence on the development of movements towards self-government - and occasionally the need to provide sensible and effective restraint on that development. He showed to Nigerians that, just as he was to be trusted in business matters, so he was to be relied upon for his advice to them and to the colonial government. He was esteemed both by officialdom and by the local politicians - with whom he occasionally frankly disagreed. He was appointed CBE in 1952 for his services to Nigeria.

In that year he was moved to East Africa. Kenya, Uganda and Tanganyika were (and are) very different in a multitude of ways from Nigeria; but it was not long before Rogers had convinced the administering authority and the local people that he was to be relied on and looked to for help in a rapidly changing world. Much change was necessary also in his own employment of his talents. Not only did he become a nominated Member of the Kenya Legislature but he applied his energy and enthusiasm to the problems of education to enable the country to provide from its own locally developed talent the administrators and technicians needed by the new nation. He became in 1958 chairman of the Royal Technical College of East Africa, served on the board of governors of the College of Social Studies, and was a founder of the University of Kenya.

The confidence that Rogers had inspired in overseas administrators and also in African legislators was recognised by the knighthood conferred on him in 1961. Two years later he returned to England and for eight years thereafter was Chairman of the Tobacco Research Council. The instinct for service was as strong as ever and he gave effective help to the East Sussex Education Committee, the Federation of Sussex Amenity Societies, Age Concern in East Sussex, as well as the Royal British Legion.

Phil Rogers did not seek for reward for his labours but the awards to him gave him satisfaction especially because of the pleasure that they gave to his friends at home and overseas. He greatly valued the appointment of Brenda in 1961 as, like him, CBE, in recognition of exceptional service to Red Cross in Nigeria, East Africa, the Belgian Congo and finally in England.