Thursday, September 13, 2012

In defence of the East African Goan dodderer

Hi Eddie,

I would just like to make the following observations ( without prejudice!), regarding Ms.Carvalho's comments about the recent London Goan meet, and the ensuing imbroglio. Personally, I found her musings about the recent Goan arrivals (P.P.F.) 'with jangly gold bracelets' and the 'aging' and 'doddery' East African Goan somewhat cynical and tasteless. Cyprian Fernandes, in my view, correctly took issue with her.

Her rhetorical statement about being unaware that it was a crime to age, deliberately misses the point entirely. It is no crime to age, but it is almost criminal to randomly use the term 'aging' to try and mischievously diminish a segment of the Goan diaspora. Referencing the 'quasi' English accent is equally provocative, disingenuous and certainly designed to ridicule and raise one's ire.  Perhaps Mr. Fernandes has a point when he blames the controversy on an editorial lapse, citing a failure at the 'risk analysis' stage.

I must admit though, that your attempted defense of Ms. Carvalho is weak at best. To even suggest 'parody' elevates her article to a level of 'Byronic brilliance". You surely can't be serious! Now I hear that Ms. Carvalho has bowed out of Goanet, claiming, amongst other things, vitriolic attacks.

Perhaps she underestimated the sensibilities of the 'doddery' East African Goan, and presumed she could scribble with impunity, without fear of recrimination. I would suggest that she is of a different mindset now, thanks to journalists like Cyprian Fernandes who dare to stand up and be counted!

Raymond de Mello
Oakville, Ontario, CANADA

Oakville, Ontario, CANADA


Dear Mr Raymond,

You have a right to your opinion. That Mr Cyprian Fernandes is a journalist is also a matter of opinion.


Selma Carvalho


On 23 August 2012 05:19, Selma Carvalho wrote:

I'm happy to see Cyprian's mail shot into cyberspace with Goanet reader titled in bold, CONTROVERSY. Nothing sells like controversy even in Goan cyberspace. Those who write controversial stuff must be writhing in pain knowing their articles seldom get so much mileage.

It is true that I referred to the East African Goan as aging and doddery (as in trembling with age). I had no idea at the time that referring to a community as aging would cause such a brou ha ha. I certainly didn't mean to hurt anyone. After all, I wasn't writing something particularly contentious, libel, accusatory, inflamatory or derogatory about this community. I had no idea, it was indeed a crime to age.

Anyone who knows my writing for the past seven years knows that I don't do sensationalism.

Gabe Menezes: RESPONSE: Come off it, please! You had to ditch the stuff about the alleged double agent on threat of legal action.

That I am, at the core a quiet writer preferring to mull over things. That I have managed to write for the past seven years, more prominently for the past five, without causing hurt or calls for libel and defamation suits, I hold to my credit. It is however impossible to be a writer and not err occasionally. To cause hurt without meaning too. No writer, worth his salt, has not erred occassionally, or not used words that are in hindsight inappropriate. And if I have caused hurt, unintended as it was, I apologise.

RESPONSE: At long last, an apology but why did it have to take so long? like pulling teeth.
However, what is particularly hurtful to me, is that instead of remembering a record of four years of service to the East African Goan community of London, which has resulted in countless GoanVoice UK columns praising them, one book drawing their ethnographies, securing funds to record their oral histories, partnering with institutions to archive them, travelling on foot, car, train and bus carrying lumbersom equipment until I was physically sick, to record them, working day and night to transcribe them, producing a documentary and currently working on a publication to preserve these stories, I am pilloried without redemption.

Writing should elicit a rebuttal. That is the main purpose of writing. It shouldn't however elicit a crusade -mostly led by people who have an axe to grind.

That a short and fragile memory is also a Goan thing, is sad.

As my mother always reminds me - today is a sad day, don't worry my darling, something better will happen tomorrow.

COMMENT: Something better does not always happen tomorrow - I have lost a ton trading and the next day was worse! I commend you on doing the right thing, albeit belatedly.

As for a crusade against you, a bit far fetched, I know of a lot of E.A. Goans who have been hurt - not because you called it like you saw it but because they took you into their homes and you observed them doddering and used this as a parody in your Article - that is the crux of the problem, don't need to be a Rocket Scientist, no not even an M.B.A. to fathom out what was wrong...plain common sense.

Gabe Menezes.

Hi Skip,
This weekend you must have enjoyed your beer even better.
You have truly provided fodder for talks amongst the East African Goans. You were the subject of discussion at many basement lunch/dinner parties over the past few days.
Here is an article that has been written and circulated to several of us by Francis. I am not sure if you know Francis. He used to live in Nakuru but married a girl from Mombasa (Cybel Carvalho). He was a teacher by profession in Kenya as well as in Canada but is now retired. We communicate occasionally on good articles.
Kind Regards,

Some of you who grew up in Kenya like me may remember Cyprian Fernandes. A few years my junior, he must be approaching 70 years of age. If he is a dodderer, I must be gaga. I don't remember ever meeting Cyprian personally but he became a familiar household name as a reporter, commentator and investigative political journalist on a continent where truthful journalism is a very risky profession. What is truly remarkable about his early career is that he overcame tremendous obstacles, including a traumatic home background, to establish himself as a writer.Check out his own description on the internet (Cyprian Fernandes: Yesterday in Kenya 1943 - 1974). Most Goans in Kenya came from middle class families and were often blissfully unaware that there were Goans living in extremely disadvantaged situations. More credit to Cyprian for his achievements as a writer!

A friend sent me the following link to an article written by him that some of you may have come across before. It is written from Cyprian's own perspective but it does capture very well the general picture of Goan experience in Kenya and then in the countries that they emigrated to - mainly Britain, Australia, New Zealand and Canada. Our individual experiences will differ from Cyprian's, of course, depending on factors such as our adopted country, education, profession and personality. For instance, Some of us did not have quite the involvement in the club scene that Cyprian dwells on. Also, I am fairly certain that the racial discrimination experienced by some emigrants to Enoch Powell's England in the seventies was not echoed to the same extent in other countries, certainly not in Canada.

It is still very interesting to read Cyprian's assessment of the post-Kenya experience of most Goans - and I have no doubt that former Kenyans of other Asian origins will find much in common with the Goan experience. For instance, Cyprian details how the first generation of emigrants surmounted considerable difficulties in order to provide for their families. There is obvious pride when Cyprian describes how the children made use of the opportunities given to them by the sacrifice of their parents by achieving highly academically and going on to do well in their chosen professions in their adopted countries.

Click on one of the links below to open Cyprian's article. It is a longish article but I found it interesting throughout especially as it led me to reflect on my own experience and contrast it with Cyprian's. For that reason I thought I would share the article with you. I hope that you find it interesting no matter your ethnic background.

Francis (another Goan Dodderer!)


Hi Cyp & all,

thanks so much on your rejoinder on the Goan Dodderer. I have had and still have the good fortune to know many Goans as close friends and even colleagues. Not one was a dodder in any manner.They were and are full of life, joy, and enthusiasm, not only in their working and professional lives, but equally so in the living of the life itself, irrespective of the vicissitude of life and any rough roads ahead.
I have the most wonderful memories of working and have equally memorable happy times with all my Goan friends. My regards to them all, now and ever.


Thank you Saiba and Bai for a wonderful and joyous times you allowed me to have with you all. God bless you all.


Kersi Rustomji.
ex-Nairobi, Mombasa, Likoni. Kenya


Hi Cyprian,

I have read your interesting article in reply to Selma's reference to the Goan dodderer.
Selma's choice of using the word "dodderer" was not right in describing the aging East African Goan and looks like no editing was done to correct it. I am sure a simple apology from Selma would clear the air.

I meant to write to you before if you were planning to write book. I am sure what you have to write about as an emerging journalist from the start and later your exploits and adventures in journalism will make interesting reading not just to the Goans but the people of Kenya.

I have read books by Goan writers. Bwana Karani by Mervyn Marciel and of course Selma's on the Goan diaspora was fascinating. The Tailor's Daughter by Antao I gave up after the first chapter- frightfully boring!

Should you do a book let me know. – M


I suggest you trim your piece and send it as rejoinder to OHeraldo.
I think Selma became too big for her shoes. When I posted my view on Dale Menezes's review of her book she as well as Eddie sent me thank you notes. Eddie mentioned that what I wrote is the best compliment.
I, however, informed both Selma and Eddie that my piece was not a full review of the book as I need to re-read it again. Thereafter, Selma turned cold. She doen't take criticism in her stride.
You said, "Shame on you, Selma!". If you remember she has said on goanet that she is "shameless" and quoted a Konkani proverb that even if a dog's tail is put inside a tube it will never be straightened.
Your column served as the last nail in her coffin.
Cheers, --G

It is Selma's choice of words and the graphic images that those portrayed that came across as INSENSITIVE and UNNECESSARY. A simple public apology would have put this whole matter to sleep. I happen to know many folks who are still deeply hurt, and feel betrayed by Selma, having believed her intentions and the objectives of the project; shared with her intimate details of their lives, family photos etc., to then be publically described as she did, is painful. –GM

To use a Goan topical analogy: It is the same as a mining company that mines every last particle of the resource (the UK EA Goans) and then when there no more potential, to abandon it, and look for fresh resources to tap. –M




I completely agree with you. We are nice guys but when people mess with our feelings and emotions, we have put them in their place. Keep up the good work. – DC


By the way. who are these 2  people?

Let them know that the doddery people they are referring to accomplished more in their lifetimes.

Show some respect.


Love to u all. –FM

You tell him Skip! Both are losers....


 My parents were never doddery! --FM


Let me jump into this Controversy and congratulate Cyprian on the substance of his detailed elaboration of the many facets of the East African Goan Tribe (albeit facing extinction within a couple of decades). I have absolutely nothing to say against it.

I am surprised however that Eddie Fernandes would take such a strong view to condemning the text while admitting to not reading beyond the first paragraph. It is worth a read. If Selma does too, and then carries out a more objective review of the recent videotapes for the UK EA Goans project, and draws pertinent conclusions from the project, she may also come to the same conclusions that Cyprian is writing about.

It is Selma's choice of words and the graphic images that those portrayed that came across as INSENSITIVE and UNNECESSARY. A simple public apology would have put this whole matter to sleep. I happen to know many folks who are still deeply hurt, and feel betrayed by Selma, having believed her intentions and the objectives of the
project; shared with her intimate details of their lives, family photos etc., to then be publically described as she did, is painful.

To use a Goan topical analogy: It is the same as a mining company that mines every last particle of the resource (the UK EA Goans) and then when there no more potential, to abandon it, and look for fresh resources to tap.

For Eddie to suggest it is because they did not go beyond Enid Blyton in the reading skills, and therefore cannot understand Selma's sophistication and mastery of the art of writing parody is adding insul to injury.

Dear Selma, just go ahead, make a public apology and move along. It was an unfortunate error of judgement. If you do not it will give the impression you really meant it, even to people who moved beyond Enid

with best wishes for your future endeavors.

Braz Menezes
Just Matata - Sin, Saints and Settlers available as e-book on KOBO, KINDLE...


Hi Cyprian !

Many many thanks for your insightful narrative and retort to the persons who referred to us wazee as doderers.

I will write again (when inspiration strikes) but I had to say thank you first. Vivian (73 year old ex-Tanzanian living in Goa)


A well written article and pointedly you have chided and referred to the unwritten law in Journalism about abusing the vulnerable in Society. The Bardesi Cavalry attempts to rescue the damsel in distress. Unfortunately they are not singing from the same hymn sheet. One protests that it is quite in order to reflect the realities of growing old and doddery, while the other offers comfort that an error was made...discretion was needed.


According to one, no one responds to my posts - now I don't know whether that is a good thing or a bad thing. You got a sure fire, fast response and I am sure more to follow; in a way I guess it is a good thing - people have sat up and taken notice! Now we learn that parody was used - this adds insult to injury - poking fun of our elders to dress up a report or for the benefit of readers (smile while you read). We have now heard it all, the axiom that should be used is: when in doubt do nowt! –G


I really enjoyed reading your article and know about the East African  Goan Tribe, through some of my good friends in Goa and Vienna and my  in-laws who returned to Goa too. My husband was born in Dar-es-Salaam,
but returned to India at an early age. He remembers only the 'rough'
Kiswaheli words, which are not many. His Priest Uncle (in Vienna)
compiled the first Kiswaheli-German dictionary with Dr. Walter Schicho
of the Institut fuer Afrikanistik, Univ. of Vienna.
Prosit to all of you East African Goan Tribe!
(Prosit: Cheers in German)
Lisa Dias-Noronha
p.s. If you don't know Hartman, he is India's renowned 'Theater
Personality' of East African Goan Origin.


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