Are the Goans forgetting their past?
In HIS sunset years, Correia returns to Goa and pens down his East African journey. As Correia looks back into the past, the reader is transported into the tumultuous years that preceded Independence for Kenya and Tanzania. The slogans of Uhuru which means freedom in Swahili are in the air. After a stint in Air India, Correia flies to Nairobi in 1958 to work in the travel and advertising business in Kenya and Tanzania. Corriea is part of the Goan diaspora which made headway into east Africa. One can hear Swahili when one walks through the leaf shaded pathways of north Goa.
An insider in the thick of backroom dramas in which Pio Gama Pinto, a Goan Socialist, played an important role liaising with Nehru and telling Nehru that if he can free Goa from the rule of Salazar then Africa independence from the Portuguese in Angola would follow. Pinto was a founder member of the Goa National Congress seeking freedom from Portuguese rule and had to abscond and flee to Kenya in 1949. In 1962 Goa was freed but Angola would have to wait till 1975. In the events that finally unfolds in Kenya, Pinto gets elected to Parliament and then falls out with his onetime colleague, Jomo Kenyatta, the president of Kenya. Kenyatta’s backroom manoeuvres of allotting several white farms to himself and his family at the cost of the poor brings him into direct conflict with Pinto. Pinto is murdered in February 1965.
If nothing else, Correia’s account has brought back in the public domain the anecdotal memories of Pio Gama Pinto, the humble water meter reader, who rose to challenge the Kenyatta’s. It needed Correia to turn the clock back. Pinto’s picture in the book is strikingly Goan and refreshing.
Footballer, short distance runner; whose final run was cut down in a hail for bullets on 25 February, 1965.
Correia’s book is strong on historical content but required better editing and the quality of pictures is substandard. However, it remains an important book in the history of Goa’s Kenyan diaspora.
The author is Consulting Editor, Africa Rising
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