Cyprian Fernandes: What the church said about Kenya Goans in 1968

A reader of the blog left this priceless evidence of the appreciation of the Goan community in Kenya:

A million thanks whoever you are:

Editorial in CATHOLIC MIRROR (Nairobi, Kenya), March, 1968 .Page Four.

GOAN CATHOLICS

The spotlight in recent weeks, has been turned full on the exodus of many Asians from Kenya. Among those who have departed are a number of Goan families from Nairobi and other centres in the country. Their departure must necessarily remind us of the extraordinary contributions the Goans of Kenya have made to the Catholic Church and Catholic life in this country.

They came here bringing with them a tradition of Catholic worship and family life, which stretched back more than four centuries to the great apostle of their homeland, St Francis Xavier. In their own country – an area surrounded by non-Christian communities – they had developed that Christian tradition. It centred on a great devotion to the central act of worship of the Church, the Sacrifice of the Mass and the Blessed Eucharist. It found strength in their love of Mary, the Mother of God, and St. Francis Xavier.

The older generation passed on their faith to those who followed them and many a missionary in Kenya in the last hundred years has had reason to thank God for the example of Catholic life of this people. Their loyalty to their faith and their unhesitating generosity in the material support of the Church and its spread to others are too well known to need emphasis. One need but mention a few of the monuments to this generosity – the Holy Family Cathedral in Nairobi, St.Francis Xavier’s Church, the Boys’ and Girls’ Schools and the Church at Eastleigh.

They were generous to a fault when it came to giving to God, whether that giving involved the sacrifice of their time and comfort in working for such societies as that of St. Vincent de Paul or the Legion of Mary, or delving into their resources to build churches where God would be worshipped or schools where their children would receive a true Christian education.

It is only natural then that the Catholic community, comprising people of every race, should regret the necessity that makes many of these fellow-Catholics leave us in Kenya. The Church will be poorer, spiritually and materially, for their going; but the countries to which they go will be the richer for their coming. Those who remain will, we know, continue the tradition of loyalty to their faith of the Goans.

Those who are leaving will carry with them the thanks of their fellow-Catholics and missionaries and the prayerful wish that all will go well for them in their new homes. To all, whether they go or stay, might be applied the words of Pope Pius XI regarding another small catholic race, the Irish, whom persecution and economic necessity compelled to leave their homeland, a hundred years ago: “Like God’s pure air, they are everywhere; and everywhere they are doing good.”




Goa, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Zanzibar

Perhaps this quote from Pascal Mercier's Night train to Lisbon why we sometimes miss a place we have been to:

We leave something of ourselves behind when we leave a place. We stay there even though we go away.

And there are things in us that we find again only by going back there.

We travel to our souls when we go to a place that covered a stretch of our lives, not matter how brief it may have been.

Someone once told me that our souls belong to Goa, our hearts to the countries of our adoption and our collective memory to the earth mother of our birth.

Cyprian Fernandes: An academic's view of Goans in East Africa




Goans history: facts, East African figures and more!

Community, Memory and Migration

In a globalising world

The Goan experience c. 1890-1980

Oxford University Press 2014

Margret Frenz

 

On the face of it, it would appear to the seasoned Kenyan Goan that Margret Frenz, in her new tome, has little or nothing to offer about their saga in Africa. While the focus is on East African Goans, Kenyan Goans take the larger share of the book.

 

If you have a really good read of this book, it will surprise you pleasantly, only if you have an orgasm of the mind reading reams and reams of soulless statistics. There is a tiny saving grace: the early history of travel from Goa to Zanzibar sparks a tiny bit of interest but is of little or no relevance to the young, uninitiated reader. Younger East African Goans do not have this aspect of their early history on easy recall.

I have always found it hard to find credibility with the so called professional authors who have written about Goans in East Africa without having lived there, without the Eastern African DNA in their blood, or the pain, suffering, tears, heartbreak, prejudice, the adoration of the Portuguese, the humility, the pride, the fault-lines in Goan heritage, as well as the joy, the laughter, the love, the carefree, wind-in-your hair, genes in your soul. You have to have experience the spirituality deformity from cow-towing to the British settle and officer class, or any white person for that matter. However, come what may, you have to have been able to put everything out of your mind and camouflaged both your mind and face with that hmmm! of the heart and made the best of a bad situation without even once thinking about it. If you are not a East African born full blood, you bring nothing to their anthology or their history. These writers are better off writing about what they have lived. There are exceptions to this rule, I am sure but that is the realm of genius.

 

Frenz also has great attention to detail, stats and facts and figures lots of trivia: The first preserved volume of passports in Goa State Archives contains the years 1768-9 but is hardly legible. The next lot in 1817 were handwritten pieces of paper giving the first and last name of the person who wanted to travel, their birth date and their destination.

 

Did you know, for example, this edict from the Portuguese consulate in Nairobi?

“Goan is an Overseas Province of Portugal and not a Colony or Dominion.

“Consequently, the word GOAN does not indicate nationality but solely that one is a native from a Portuguese Province as the words Welsh and Scotch mean that persons so indicated are natives from such and such British Provinces.

 

 

My experience of academic writing is that it rarely captures the romance, the spirit or the soul of their subject matter. In Frenz’s case she relies on her interviewees to transfer the magic of illustrious writing in their own words to the reader. In that she fails pretty miserably. It may have been her intention to capture the authenticity of the time and place by using people who still speak in that kind of Goan English with all its idiosyncrasies. This I suspect would give some readers a real dose of the cultural cringe since it is these types of specks of dust from the Goan past most of them would rather forget.

 

For example: “We had caste – means – we had caste among ourselves in Goan this thing. But tailors were kept separate – you know tailors – you know tailors – know? – Only the  tailors were kept separate – others we have – know – Brahmins – Sudhras – and what not. We have – but those people – tailors – tailors – I did not know – they were kept separate – that had their own institute – they used to call – tailor club – tailors’ club – they had separate. We Goans had ours – means other Goans – had separate – but of course they were (Brahmin) caste there. They were not all Brahmins there – but we had this caste –Brahmins and all of them. But ahh – somehow – they had – they used to say –we have – white collar – we are doing white collar jobs. So whatever – mostly those people were that side and tailors were on this side – we were doing only tailoring – taking orders for clothes – where – get a lot. But I think now everything is quite different that side – yah – by those days it was like that – separate.”

 

Their ire would be quite understandable for an immigrant tribe which was lauded by the colonials for their English, their manners, their etiquette, and all the trimmings that made them “brown skin Englanders” and in a privileged class in the Colonial Civil Service, some wearing hats, but all resplendent in white shirt and tie or those jazzy double-breasted hot threads, shoes polished to the point they were a mirror for your face when you looked down. Yet, not everyone spoke Queen’s English especially not most of the tailors, carpenters, shoemakers and others of their ilk.

 

If the reader is bombarded with much more of this direct translation into word from the tape recorder, I am sure they would feel the same way as I did …. UUUUhhhh!!: Why?

The Goan story is a fairly straight-forward one:

Goans left a mainly subsistence economy in search of work and a new life. They were encouraged by Portuguese to do so, secretly hoping some of them would land on African colonies, Mozambique or Angola.

Some of them were fairly well educated by standards at the time; others spoke just about enough English to get by. Yet others did not and created a Konglish or sorts.

They were Catholic; they were pious churchgoers and had a lot of faith in their religion.

They were diligent. They were loyal. They were trustworthy. They were reliable. And they were subservient. They bowed their heads to the white man.

Next to church, they loved their social clubs. The men like a beer or two or more, cards and everyone loved dances, parties, bingo and lots of sport.

Most of all they focussed on giving their children everything they never had.

They gave alms, kept the Sabbath at the club (everyday nearly, for that matter).

The wife and mother was the greatest heroine. Though she walked in the shadow of her husband, she was still empress of her domain until Dad came home. As a home maker, as an unstinting support for her husband who got on with the job of earning for the family, he got to go about his business without a care or thought for home. By the time he got back from work or the club, everything was cooked, clean and ready.

And they enjoyed a privileged position in the British colony. One interview:  ... In Bombay, when I first came, it came as a shock when I heard people saying "Goans are ABC"; and I said, "what is ABC?" -- it is Ayays, Butlers and Cooks. Right, ok, I found it tremendously insulting, right, because in East Africa we were placed on a level which was higher than other Indians -- ahh -- this came as a shock to my system.

Few will remember that East Africa was serviced by three civil services: The British Civil Service (expatriates and settlers), the African Civil Service, and the Asian Civil Service (just as their brothers were masters of the sea in the dining halls, the cabins, bars, of passenger ships, the Goans were the masters of the civil service, a peg or two just below the British masters.

If they loved God with all their hearts, they were equally forceful in ensuring their caste, class and people of a particular ilk and rank were kept as pure as Hitler’s Aryans. The three clubs in Kenya: The Goan Institute, The Railway Goan Institute and the Goan Gymhana kept each other’s member out and all three kept out the riff-raff: tailors, carpenters, shoe makers, mechanics and the like… until it was politically incorrect to do so.

They were always loyal citizens of Portugal, but always torn between the devil they knew and the British they didn’t. I worked in the Colonial Civil Service for a couple of years. While I was there, I met a very gentle and docile man. He was generally quiet and rarely spoke. He spoke only in the softest of tones, constantly nodding his head and each line of the spoken word punctuated by “yes sir, yes sir.” I once asked him if he ever had to say “no sir, no sir”.

Never, he said. Why? Why do you always bow when you talk him? That is the way I was taught. Anyway, it is out of respect for his position. Not his colour? You are a stupid boy. Don’t talk like that. Your father did not teach you? How to behave?

I have never forgotten the look of horror on his face. Needless to say, even though the job was exciting, the subservience was not and I went walkabout and straight into journalism late in 1960. I was of a different generation and a different time.

It wasn't before I calling most white folk by their first names. And if someone said "you mean Mr XYZ" I would retort "You mean Mr Fernandes". There was none of this crap when I joined the Nation and fell in love with everyone there. Everyone, including our beloved drivers, the tea boys, the cleaners, were all equal. For that time in history, the Nation came close to some sort of a people's paradise.

 

If Frenz lacks soul then she more than makes it up with portraiture and her gallery is well worth a visit.

The portrait of Goan Education is straightforward yet concise. There is plenty of recognition for Goan educators, not by individual name, but as a teaching body. Even the Dr Ribeiro Goan School reunions get a mention.

 

A few Goans went into business, real estate, a little farming and not much more. They were not considered they had what it takes in business. And of course, there was always the Colonial Civil Service of which they were the real masters (or should I say the Clayton’s masters).

And of course, they were all Portuguese. And the Portuguese were good friends of the British.

 

 

Then, of course, it was time to leave for Goa, Portugal, the UK, US, Canada and other foreign parts. Africa’s version of the wandering Jews. And in most cases, a blessing in disguise -- I am loving it.

 

·         Cyprian Fernandes was a Kenyan-born investigative journalist, now living in Sydney, Australia.

·        Margret Frenz is a Lecturer in Global and Imperial History at the History Faculty and St Cross College, University of Oxford.  

 

 

Goans celebrate SFX in Sydney with lots of energy, happy smiles and devotion

From left: Tony Colaco with the statute of St Francis Xavier, Colaco with the birthday girl,97-year-old Maria Beatrice Nazareth, Fr Vincy D'Costa, Bishop Peter Comensoli, acolyte and Fr Jose Phillips of the Greystanes parish.






Sydney celebrates St Francis Xavier’s feast.


The annual St Francis Xavier’s Feast Day celebrations  in Sydney, Australia, never fails to teleport the small Goan community to a Goa that lives in the realms of memory past, or legend, that may have been romanticised by the tyranny of distance and the ages of time and the fact that Australia is perched fairly close to the very bottom of the world, not too far from Antarctica.  But Goa, is very close in most folks’ hearts.

This year was no different and certainly better attended than sometimes in the past.

Fortunately for us in NSW, Australia, we are caste, class, position, language-neutral in diaspora, mainly due to the demands of the environments Goans live in.  Konkani is a fading language but you would not have thought so on Sunday, November 30 at a suburban church in Sydney. There was a real gusto in the singing of the Konkani hymns (as well as some of the prayers) at Mass concelebrated by Fr Vincy D’Costa, originally from Navelim. The other celebrants were the Auxiliary Bishop of Sydney, the Most Reverend Peter Comensoli and Fr Jose Phillip of the local Our Lady Queen of Peace Church.

Sydney Goans react with great energy for anything that links them with the “old country”. For example, when the relic of St Francis Xavier (part of the arm) toured Australia, Goans virtually jammed the church where it was being exhibited.

The processional hymn “Misachi Beht Suru Zata” took us back home at the very start of the Mass. The response to the Prayers of the Faithful was  “Do-iall Bapa , Tu-jeam bhurgeachim magnnim aik, am-chi kakut kor.” The Post Communion hymn was “Dev zagta mon’xanchem khan” and the service culminated with the Recessional hymn Sam Fransisk Xaviera. This was a very special day for the Goans in Sydney.  Rachel Menezes did a terrific job in organising the choir.

The Mass was followed by celebrations in the school hall. The event commenced with the serving of the traditional chick peas and coconut pieces.  Father Vincy said the “Grace” in Konkani and both young and old enjoyed the food, the Goan mandos and the English songs, as well as a variety of fun activities. The centre piece of the day was the celebration of our senior citizens. They were the centre stage of the event, with a special effort made to provide them with food and refreshments and traditional Goan sweets. We sang “Happy Birthday” to Mrs Maria Beatrice Nazareth (mother of Felix, Victor and Greta, grandmother and great grandmother) who recently celebrated her 97th birthday and cut a cake to share the occasion with her fellow Goans. She has been blessed with an angelic smile and was always a magnet for 100s of children who came often to visit her, or accompanied her children home from school in Nairobi.  Maria always had a smile to welcome them as well as some goodies from the kitchen.

Music from the old country is still a big draw (even if you don’t understand the language, your DNA helps you to be one with the rhythm).  Roy Rosario brought a variety of mandos, dulpod and masala, among them Jurament, Tambde rosa, Moddgonvam prasar, Dalia, Eskolak vocho and lots more.

Santa came and thrilled the kids and presented them with gifts.  The crowd enjoyed playing Bingo which is an old time favourite at community events.  Looking at all the happy faces, it would be a fair cop that everyone had a great time.

However, none of this would have been possible had it not been for the husband and wife partnership of President Tony and Alzira Colaco and the various Goans who have graced his executive committees. A few years ago, after Tony surrendered his first stint as President to help his children with their Higher School Certificate examinations, the association almost floundered for reasons best not mentioned.

One year we had the smallest crowd in the history of the GOA at the annual Christmas Dance which once used to attract more than 350 people, when most of us were young naturally.

Tony who is a Chartered Accountant from the UK and an MBA from Sydney, hails from Borda, Margao.  He has served nine years in office: 6 years as president, making him the longest serving president in the history of the GOA, 2 years as vice-president, and 1 year as treasurer. His wife, Alzira, a former General Secretary of the association is in the legal profession.

It is no exaggeration that a president or chairman of a Goan association must have the wisdom of Solomon and the patience of Job to deal with some of those sticky issues that sometimes rear their heads. However, Tony has shown that  he can rise above all that and more, and he has been very quick to smooth any hiccups, however minor they may be, before they become problems.

However, Tony is endowed with a natural charm that is found in abundance in the blessed few in Goa. He is the consummate professional in his dealings with everyone he comes into contact with. He is also acutely aware of the needs and tender loving care that each one of his committee members require.  As the Australian saying goes, there is plenty of sunshine for everyone to busk in.

It has required all of his skills to galvanise a community which now attends every occasion in reasonably large numbers.

The other notable achievements over the past 24 months has been how a growing number of young people are now attending GOA functions. Under Tony’s guidance, they have even been able to establish their own niche under the auspices of the GOA. A long time ago, we used to have as many as 60 young people at our functions, but over the years we lost contact with them.

Tony’s other skills have been to instil in each of the committees the need to be “with it” in the area of communication and has taken the GOA into cyberspace with excellent results.

His growing fame as the leading community leader has resulted in various Goan organisations requiring his mediation skills. Yet, even his patience has been tested but he continues to work at finding a solution.

Tony also serves on the committees of other Indian community organisations and is well connected with the Indian Consul General’s Office as well as the Consul General of Portugal in Sydney.

His current committee is: Abel do Rosario (Margao), Roy do Rosario (Margao), Tony Colaco (Margao), Colin Pereira (Moira), Amelia Pereira (Aldona), Ralph Vaz (Assonora), Yvette Braganza (Sangolda), Paul Dias, Bernard D’Souza.



One young man who I would like to single out (accusations of bias will be gratefully acknowledged) is Colin Pereira. He is the son of George and Sheila Pereira (ex-Nairobi).  George was the President of the association in the early 1980s and Sheila, a Konkani singer and socials organiser of no mean repute, were utterly dedicated to the community and involved their three boys Clive, Colin and Carl from the earliest days. Sheila was famous for jumping on tables and singing Konkani and Portuguese songs for our seniors. But everyone loved her forever for it. I know Colin is dedicating his services to the GOA in memory of his parents. Sheila is probably smiling from up there.

An interview with Tony Colaco:

What made you start? This has been a partnership between you and Alzira... thoughts?
To serve effectively in any community organisation requires the strong support of your spouse.  Alzira has been the rock and my greatest supporter since I joined the committee many years now. This was easy for me as Alzira served on the Committee as General Secretary in the early eighties. She knew of the commitment required, the temperament and the “Goan politics” if I may say so.   I still discuss strategies and use Alzira as a sounding board for ideas. Alzira has been hands on with the taking of bookings etc for all events for many years now.

When you started your children were fairly young and they were involved in the association as well: what contribution did they make?

I took both my kids since they were born to all of the GOA NSW functions that  Alzira and I attended. I must say that I am a bit lucky as both my kids - Clinton and Cherie’s love for the GOA NSW is still ongoing. They were always a part of my secret weapon when I needed any help before, during and after any events. They were there when I had to clean the hall after all the participants had left. The kids still ask me regarding the GOA calendar of events so that they can participate.  Clinton normally flies from the Gold Coast where he is studying to be a doctor to participate in the GOA events - whether it be a cricket match, anniversary dance or World Goa Day celebrations.  In fact, at the recent soccer match between the GOA NSW Youth and Veterans, Clinton was part of the youth team, Cherie was part of the cheer squad and I was the match referee. The kids’ contribution is ongoing – simple tasks like taking phone calls and leaving me messages that I receive on a daily basis, is a great help to me and the Association.
  What were the things that gave you the most satisfaction during your first stint? My first stint on a GOA Executive Committee was in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania in the early eighties. I was the youngest member of the team and got my coaching from some of the best Goan leaders of that time. The rest of the Committee were all about three times my age and I learnt a lot from these veterans as to how to run a Goan Association. As a young treasurer, the responsibilities were huge. The club had two bars, a large double storied building, a badminton court, 2 tennis courts, a billiards room and over 2000 members.
My first stint with the GOA NSW was in the year 2000. At that time, I remember the AGM was discussing, amongst other things, whether the GOA should be wound up as it was difficult to find volunteers to serve on the Committee.  Glenn D’Cruz ultimately put his hand up to take on the position of President.

 

That  same night, I received a phone call from Glenn requesting me to take on the position of Treasurer. I gladly accepted. By doing so, the journey to serve the community in Sydney began. I resonated well with the community and with my financial background, I had a good understanding of the drivers that made up our Association’s finances. The journey of change was taking shape. Since that time, all of the committees that I have led, have left a surplus to the GOA funds each year. However, the greatest satisfaction was to see the Association alive and well and to see the number of attendances at all our events growing from year to year.
 

Again you came back to lead the GOA (when ?) at a time when the association was literally dying on its feet after you had left it in a fairly healthy state?
I came back in 2010.  I took a break as both my kids were about to do their HSC exams. I needed to provide them with all the support. Today, it is paying dividends. Cherie my daughter has just graduated from Sydney University as a Diagnostic Radiographer and is working at Westmead Hospital.  Clinton is about to complete his degree in Medicine from Bond University. I promised the Association that I would be back. I kept my word. I came back after two years. The Association needed to be recharged. I had time to reflect on this. I hand-picked  the next committee – dubbed the “Dream team”. Together we celebrated the 35th Anniversary of the association. The current Committee has built on the success of the previous committee and is aptly named as the “Innovative team”. We are looking forward to celebrating our 40th Anniversary in 2016.
It is now a buoyant and successful organisation. What has been secret of your success?
I owe the current healthy state of the Association to the men and women I work with on the team. I tell them personally and in public “I could not do it without you”.

It’s the people who make the difference. Good leadership is the key in bringing it all together. Leading by example is also very important. Having a plan for every event is critical, as if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.


Every event now has a detailed budget and a detailed run sheet where all the items are clearly itemised with responsibilities. Every event has a director assigned, who in turn appoints at least two co-directors, to carry-out the initial planning and to share it with the whole committee. The personal satisfaction and growth from managing an event cannot be measured. The committee celebrates its success when it meets face to face and we all encourage each other as we review the lessons learnt.

There has been a generational as well as a changing of the old guard: a lot of new young people have joined the association, and a lot of the original East African Goan founders are slowing down.

Indeed! The East African Goans were perhaps the first group of Goans to come to Sydney, Australia. Their pioneering effort led to the formation of the association in 1977. The model which worked so well in East Africa was exported to other parts of the world. The constitution we use is a modified copy of the East African GOAs – may I add that all of them have celebrated 100 years. The second wave was the Goans from Pakistan and the Middle East and those who ran away from the cold countries – UK and Canada. And finally, we had the big skilled migration from India including young professionals coming directly from Goa. The association is moving and powering ahead with the changing times and demographics. Today, we have representatives on the Executive Committee from Africa, Pakistan and India including Goa - 33 percent each.  It is sad to see that many of the pioneers have either passed away, or are in nursing homes today.
Who are the new Executive Committee members and how have you recruited them.
One of the challenges for any President of the GOA is to form a well-balanced and motivated team. To get motivated volunteers to serve on the Committee is always a challenging task for any community organisation. I am in a recruiting mode at functions that I attend. I am always questioning what will help us grow and thrive as a leading GOA in the world. The current executive is made up of highly talented and highly driven busy professionals, with an enormous personal following whose love for Goa and everything Goan is unbelievable. My role as President has been to harness this great treasure and deliver meaningful events that resonate with members of the Goan community here in Sydney.
 

What is even more delightful is the number of women who are taking on frontline roles.
An all-male or an all-
female committee lacks balance required in community organisations. We are blessed to have two very talented and hardworking busy executives on the Committee. Amelia and Yvette have brought to the table a different perspective and a compassionate and consultative approach in doing things.  
Another breakthrough achievement is the involvement of young
Goans in the Association: For more than 30 years the association struggled with encouraging youngsters to join the association with only intermittent success, in 2013, all this changed: explain what happened.
The youth of today are our future leaders. This needed to be recognised first. To ensure the Association as a “ going concern” we needed  a pipeline of young emerging leaders. In my opinion, some of the very strict policies of not having children attend our dances was to our detriment. We automatically made it hard for young families and new migrants to attend. This policy encouraged our members and their children to engage with the GOA. We have lost a generation of Goans because of our no children policy in my opinion. After consulting the committee and commissioning an informal enquiry as well as visits to dances in Goa during Christmas time, it became abundantly clear that this had to change. We now have children who are allowed to attend our dances, and in my opinion, we are planting the seeds in these young ones - the love for our Goan culture and rich heritage.

The natural progression was to form a youth leadership group which was formalised at the 2013 AGM. The youth have celebrated their First Anniversary dance and have many functions planned.  I am very proud of this achievement and would like the whole community to support it. This will secure our Association’s future for many more years to come.  
  While you have dedicated your time to the GOA NSW, you have also engaged many Indian organisations as well as the sister GOAs in Melbourne Victoria and Perth, what has that been like?
I am the Public Relations Director of the Council of Indian Australians (CIA) NSW.


I have also been nominated to represent NSW on the new Australian Council of Indian Australians – all these involvements have helped to keep the high profile of the Goan Association NSW intact.


I currently serve on the Finance Committee of my local church – Our Lady Queen of Peace . I have been doing so since the last 10 years.


I have kept in constant touch with other sister GOAs in Australia.


Further. I have worked with other likeminded Goan leaders globally to form the World Alliance of Goan Organisations.  The 2008 Global Reunion Dance organised at the Mandovi Riviera in Goa was a great success. Goans from over 20 countries attended this event.
Who are in your current committee: Abel do Rosario from Margao
Roy do Rosario from Margao
Tony Colaco from Margao
Colin Pereira from Moira
Amelia Pereira – Aldona
Ralph Vaz - Assonora
Yvette Braganza - Sangolda
Bernard Dsouza - Anjuna

Paul Dias - Verna


Looking back what would you say were your achievements so far?

    

1.       I pioneered the formation of the GOA Toastmasters Club with John Mascarenhas and Glenn DCruz.


2.    I started the World Goa Day celebrations in Sydney – This is now an annual event on our calendar.


3.        We are the co-founders of the Mango Cup which is now in its seventh year. This has assisted with the strong ties we maintain with the Manglorean Association, the Anglo Indian Association and the East Indian Association.


4.        We have been sending at least 2 of our youth each year to Goa to participate in the prestigious Know Goa Programme in Goa. We are the only Association in Australia to do this.


5.        Creating High Performance Executive teams which deliver results and maintain a healthy growing organisation which is financially viable.


6.        Maintained strong relations with both the Consul General of India in Sydney and the Consul General of Portugal in Sydney.


7.        The formation of the GOA NSW Youth Committee.


8.        Introduced an active website with strong presence in the social media which is assisting us in marketing our events.  The GOA website is no more an expense, but rather,it is a revenue earner with many organisations advertising on our website.


9.        Constantly reviewing the structure of the committee to keep pace with the changing needs of the community – the Cultural and Sports Director and the Social Services Support Director portfolios have been added to the Executive Committee.
10.        Constantly reviewing our Constitution and making it a living breathing document.

11.        I have even designed and made a BINGO board for the GOA NSW.


 



 

 

 
 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More Kenya History




Click on the blue lettering for the full story!

Celebrating our African historical personalities,discoveries, achievements and eras as proud people with rich culture, traditions and enlightenment spanning many years.
kwekudee-tripdownmemorylane.blogspot.com|By kwekudee
With thanks to the authors.


The late Oscar D'Mello


With Thanks to Coastweek


Oscar De’ Mello - A Former International Goalkeeper

he played along with  Elijah Lidonde, Joe Kadenge,
Stephen Ochieng, Isack Lugonzo (who later became
the mayor OF Nairobi
) and Alfred Okoth
Oscar was a family friend. My brother Johnny hero-worshipped to the point of following his goal-keeping style. I worked for a year at Oxo with him. He was something of a big brother.
.

CONTRIBUTED BY CORRESPONDENT WILLIAM FARIA IN DUBAI

Coastweek -- Oscar De’ Mello, Kenya’s former International football Goalkeeper and a man with immense sense of humour, is no more.

The grand old man died last Thursday, aged 79 at a Nairobi hospital after a short illness.

In mid 1940s to late 60’s, Oscar was the only non-African Goalkeeper to have played for Kenya and Tanganyika.

A month before he passed away, he had the opportunity to give his soccer experience to guest writer WILLIAM FARIA.

Oscar, a Kenyan of Goan-Portuguese descent, developed a love for soccer at a very tender age and his interest developed more in the sport than in academics, though he was also good at his studies.
Born on 21st August, 1930 in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania (then Tanganyika), Oscar’s life, hasn’t been a bed of roses like the rest, as he was orphaned at a very young age, but later he rose to become a soccer legend.
He was however raised and brought up at St Joseph’s Convent in Dar, when the then Bishop Edgar Miranta took custody of the siblings who included his brother and four sisters.
Oscar spent most of his time while in school, on the field and whenever teachers found him absent in the classroom.
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Coastweek -- Oscar during
a recent interview at his Kileleshwa home, Nairobi.

They would look for him at the playground, knowing that he would be there and sometimes on his own, so much so that soccer seems to run in his veins.

He started off his career in the forward line, but at the age of eleven, a bout of Asthma attack forced him to switch to the goal, as his colleagues insisted that it was a better place to rest between the goal-posts, to prevent him from consistent coughing after running.

When he was 14, his eldest sister got married and so the new family decided to take care of the remaining siblings and they left the convent.

After schooling, Oscar got employed as an apprentice with the then East African Railways and Harbours (EAR&H), doing clerical work in Dar, earning a meagre 100/- per month, this amount was however quiet reasonable in those years, he recalled.

He first approached the Goan Institute in Dar, but they declined to accept him, prompting him to instead form a club called Dar Wanderers in 1945, making it a multi-racial team comprising of all his ex-school mates.
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He made a major breakthrough in his career at SIXTEEN

At 16 years of age, Oscar made his first major breakthrough in his career.

This was when he played his first international match representing Tanganyika against a UK team that visited the country.

From here on, it was no looking back, as he kept playing international matches for Tanganyika for the next ten years.

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Being a non-African, Oscar was not selected to represent the country for the East African challenge Cup, which was called Gossage Cup then, as it was only meant for Africans and Arabs.
When a naval war ship H.M.S Kenya from England docked at Dar, they had semi-professional soccer players on board.
The foreign team played three matches with African combine, Asia and European, they played Africa and beat them 1-0, they had a barren draw with Asia and trounced the European team 11-0.
The European combine requested they meet again and wanted to make a change, bringing in Oscar as their guest goal-keeper.
Asked how he was exclusively selected to play?
He remarked: “Goans were never considered as Asians in the pre-colonial era, they were categorised as Europeans, because of their western lifestyle and the Portuguese relationship they have”.
Coastweek -- Oscar De’Mello
demonstrates how he
did it in his hey days.

In the first half of the match, the opponent’s goal-keeper never had a chance to handle the ball, in fact the foreigners dominated the match and a constant threat at their host goal-mouth, where Oscar was the custodian and he pulled several magnificent saves.

“At the end we settled for a 1-1 draw and the sailors carried me shoulder high, saying that I was the man of the match, a thrill I never experienced in life.

“They even hosted a party in my honour at the club they were staying and I felt overawed,” he reminisced.

While still a member of the Referees Association as a third class referee, Oscar abandoned Dar Wanderers in 1950 to join Sunderland FC, whose patron, Ali Bin Said saw the potential in him requesting that he plays which he obliged.

He was thus the first non-African to play for an African team in those days.
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In 1956 Oscar moved to Nairobi

“In 1956, an ex team-mate, Peter Pinto approached me saying that OXO EA Ltd an agent for Tanganyika Packers had a vacancy for a clerical officer in Nairobi and asked me if I was interested to take up the offer which I whole-heartedly did and decided to travel to Nairobi.

The same year, I joined one of the top teams in the City called Nairobi Heroes which was a multi-racial team and I felt comfortable here,” he said.

Pinto and self steered Nairobi Heroes to a success and the Football Association of Kenya (FAK) spotted Oscar’s myriad talents and he was soon selected to represent Kenya in all its international matches.

“I played along with prominent big names like Sir Stanley Matthews from Blackpool, England who was also knighted by the Queen of England,” he recollected.

In 1960 he organized Nairobi Heroes to play outside matches in Tanzania and Mozambique.

Oscar however admits that the team never performed well in Lorenco Marques, as he claims he had too much on his head.

“One of the main reasons was that at that time, I was busy courting my long time girl friend, Zelia, whom I later married and she bore me two beautiful daughters, Louisa and Valerie,” he said with a broad smile.
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daughters, Louisa and Valerie, were Kenyan tennis aces

Louisa and Valerie later grew up to become Kenya’s international Lawn Tennis stars in mid 70’s and brought Kenya fame by representing the country in several international events.

Today both sisters are still active tennis players in Canada.

“Nairobi Heroes were second in the Commercial league table, but in 1965, there was a mass exodus of Nairobi Heroes players due to Africanisation.

“Around or about the same period, I also acquired Kenyan Citizenship.

“I had to quit the club and join Nairobi Spurs and the same year became a member of the FA of Kenya, he disclosed.

In the early 60’s, Oscar recalls that while officiating as a match referee, during the Abaluhya FC (now AFC Leopards) v/s Luo united (now Gor Mahia), he was stoned by spectators at the then Doonholm road stadium (Nairobi Stadium today) for not favouring one of the teams.

“During my hey days in football, a white man who watched my performance in between the goal, approached me and requested that I travel to Europe to play professional soccer.

“To tell you the truth, I was really confused and didn’t know what to do, but on the other hand, the person never opened up to tell me how much was involved and what I was worth and hence I turned down the offer,” Oscar affirms.

In the early 70’s Oscar’s soccer career came to an abrupt halt, when he suffered a serious knee injury through a torn cartilage.

This prompted a major knee operation, causing the Kenyan champion to hang his boots forever.
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Government appointed Oscar as FAK treasurer in 1973

There is still more reason to exalt, when in 1973, the Government appointed Oscar the treasurer of FA of Kenya, with Martin Shikuku (who later became the Butere MP) as Interim Chairman to sort out the mess in the Federation.

The late Michael Kijana Wamalwa was also appointed in the committee.

He says that ten percent of the gate proceedings at the FA Cup never reached the federation.

All clubs affiliated to the FA of Kenya were asked to appoint a new committee to ensure the fair running of soccer in the country.

“In fact FA of Kenya, had experienced similar problems of what is currently going on today in KFF- mismanagement,” he explains.
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Oscar represented Kenya at FIFA 1974 Congress in Mexico

In 1974, Wamalwa proposed that Shikuku and I represent the country in the FIFA congress in Mexico during the World Cup matches.

“I was overwhelmed and proud to represent Kenya.

“This was my most rewarding task in my football career, to attend a congress of this magnitude and also have the opportunity to watch the World Cup matches live, which included the finals played between Argentina and Germany.

“Not many people were happy with me heading the treasury of the FA of Kenya, because I was conscientious with money and every cent had to be accounted for.

“At the next AGM, the members ganged up and oust me as the treasurer, as they wanted someone who was more flexible with the funds.

“I did not complain, but quit honourably, knowing that I left behind a legacy of trust and honesty, accepting defeat,” he adds.

During his soccer career, he played along with other famed players like Elijah Lidonde, Joe Kadenge, Stephen Ochieng, Isack Lugonzo (who later became the Nairobi mayor) and Alfred Okoth.

Oscar said he represented Kenya in many foreign matches including Mozambique, Rwanda, Burundi, and Ethiopia.

He also played against All India (which fielded at least nine Olympic Games players), played against England, Sweden.
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Oscar hit by tragedy as wife, Zelia, dies in a car crash

Oscar’s worse time in life came in 1980, when his wife Zelia died in a tragic road accident near the Museum Hill road in Westlands.

“My wife had just come from Parklands Sports club, to find out when the girls will be playing their next Under-18 match.

“She was driving her Honda Civic car, when suddenly an over speeding bus failed to stop at the junction and rammed into my wife’s car throwing her metres away and she was later pronounced dead on arrival at the hospital, he says with tears rolling down his cheeks.

Zelia’s death was a big blow in Oscar’s life as she was a driving force behind his success and this totally shattered the family.

“I considered Zelia as the pillar of my life and she was good in everything, giving me every encouragement in life,” says Oscar.

This prompted him in later years, to marry a young Kenyan woman, Ambia, with whom he has a son, Tony who is 11 years old and a pupil of St Mary’s school in Nairobi.

Like father like son, Tony is already fully active in sports and loves to take an advice or two from his dad’s rich football experience.

The man who had immense sense of humour looked younger than his age, because his diet was very simple.

He loved to have fruits with corn flakes and honey for breakfast every morning.

His day started off at 5 a.m. On getting up, he would first pray to God for having given him another bright day, before he could get into his sports gear and jog a little within the compound of his posh Kileleshwa mansion, which was built 40 years ago.

Besides soccer Oscar had been also active in Hockey having played in the Gold Cup. 

His hobbies also included playing Table-tennis, Cricket, travelling, stamp collecting etc but soccer superseded everything in life for him.

He spent most of his time watching soccer on television and loved to fill the Suduku crossword puzzles in the newspapers every day.

The former soccer star received a lot of guests from abroad who stayed at his home, where he was always available to provide the necessary hospitality.

He went through his archive with nostalgia, as he showed this writer a heap of scrap-books and albums with the many press-clippings and photographs of himself, which he collected over the years.

In his sporting days, he met personalities from other fields and also came across other soccer stars like Sir Stanley Matthews of England and Brazil ’s Pele , Kenya ’s Seraphino Antao among others.
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The star’s popularity on Nairobi streets

I was marvelled by Oscar’s popularity in Nairobi.

Though many would not know that the grand old man, was once the pride of Kenya’s soccer, he was still a respected figure in the public.

He was not only a household name in the soccer fraternity, but in the entire Nairobi city. 

Wherever I went with Oscar, places like the malls or the Casinos, both the old and young loved to crack a joke or two with this jovial character.

He said Kenya is inhabited by a people with natural affinity to Sports and the country can excel well in professional soccer if the right mechanism is put in place. 

“We can become a super-power in the sport, not only in Africa but the world at large,” he asserted.

He observed that it is distressing to see the standard of soccer deteriorating in the country, adding that something is flagrantly wrong with the management.

Oscar believed that for a country to have a strong and successful team there is need for politicians to keep off meddling in soccer activities.

“They should however give other technical and financial assistance but not run the affairs of the soccer body, “explained the once ardent former goalkeeper.

Oscar has held numerous positions in 1981.

He was a council member of the KLTA and was in the sub-committee of the Junior Tennis and the Public Relations officer.

Besides playing active soccer, Oscar worked for Brooke Bond in 1963 and later joined Lufthansa Air Cargo in 1974 where he was appointed as the Cargo Sales representative and retired as the Deputy Cargo manager in mid 90’s.

He later ventured into private business, but due to numerous obstacles for example mistrust by his clients he decided to wind up his business.

Oscar transversed across the Globe during his hey days, but kept repeating time and again that there is no better place to reside than Kenya.

This he believed was due to the friendly and undiscriminating attitude of the indigenous Kenyans and also the country’s climatic conditions, that has made Kenya to be considered as the paradise of Africa, and indeed here he finally rest in eternal peace, ultimately making Kenya his permanent home in abode.

Oscar will be sadly missed not only by his family members, but to the huge Kenya populace his name is engraved in nostalgic history.

He will be mourned by the whole community.

A circle of his friends at the Casinos in Nairobi where he spent most of his time, described Oscar as a “perfect gentleman”.

Oscar’s remains were cremated in a private funeral ceremony on Wednesday, after a church service at the Holy Trinity Church in Kileleshwa, Nairobi.

We pay our last respect to the fallen soccer legend and wish his family the strength during this trying time.

May God rest his soul in eternal Peace. Goodbye Oscar!