Thursday, September 29, 2016
The Goan story and more from Yesterday in Paradise and more... on Amazon.com
This book is about people originating from the state of Goa, India and the Republic of Kenya, East Africa. This book is also about growing up in colonial British East Africa, the Mau Mau rebellion and the illusion of freedom after independence. A brutal war was fought between Kikuyu tribesmen - dubbed the Mau Mau - fighting for the return of their confiscated lands, and the British armed forces, backed by the mighty Lancaster bombers from World War II and supported by the colonial police force. It is also about insights I garnered from the Mau Mau while growing up before Kenya’s independence. It is sadly ironic that a tropical paradise like Kenya has joyful beauty at one end of its spectrum and pure evil at the other, evolving into a place where murderers roam free.
The British proclaimed specific racial traits, regarding such peoples as the Sikhs and Pathans as ‘martial races’ and regarding others such as the Tamils as ‘docile races’. Goans could not be regarded as a business-like group like the Hindu and Ismaili Gujarati merchants they encountered in India and Zanzibar. To them, Goans represented an anomaly or failure of the social/racial policy designed by the Portuguese.
Nairobi, the Early Days
The kids, unperturbed, simply explained that a ghost had gone madly wild. We peered in and inched closer. We huddled against each other, and then tottered backwards in a panic at the sound of the next crash. Our forced laughter was a feeble ruse to hide our fear. High anxiety filled the air. ‘What if the ghost decided to come after us?’ I thought. We resolved to not be afraid of a ghost.
Our mothers calling us interrupted this false bravado against the phantoms of occult and devilry. We prayed that the splashes of holy water, accompanied by the Lord’s Prayer and our fervent chorus of Hail Marys in various decibels, served as shields against the devil at work. As they prayed incessantly, the old women looked like hens with their heads chopped off. It was a funny sight for the kids.
The Mau Mau
He explained that no Kikuyu could find peace until their lands were returned to them. They were convinced that the white man would leave Kenya one day and then the Kikuyu would return to their traditional lands. Another Kikuyu told me that this would happen because their god Ngai, who lived on the snow-capped Mount Kenya, had willed it. They did not admit to being Mau Mau, but it was easy to see the fire in their eyes, and their passion. Typically, at around 5:30 pm they would ask me to go home. One of the elders, Macharia, told me it was not safe be in the valley after dark.
Eastleigh was a melting pot of non-whites: Muslims (including Ismailis, Pakistanis, and Punjabi Muslims from India), Somalis, Kutchies, Gujaratis, Sikhs, Seychellois, Mauritians, and a host of other communities. Each community stuck firmly to themselves. The Sikhs were great carpenters and builders and drank neat scotch three or four fingers deep. They were also good motor mechanics. Muslims worked in a variety of jobs mainly with their hands, especially as motor mechanics and electricians. Somali men were renowned as house and business guards. Goans, also referred to as ‘Brown Portuguese,’ felt superior to other brown and black skins. They were a large community whose life was dominated by the Catholic Church. The only white people in Eastleigh were the nuns and priests and the Royal Air Force personnel stationed at Eastleigh Airport.
‘So you spoke to me yesterday and I agreed to see you today? I must be suffering from amnesia because I cannot recall talking to you yesterday or ever,’ he said quite firmly but the smile was still there.
‘I lied,’ I confessed.
‘What, you little bleeding blighter …’ he said, pretending to be very angry.
‘Well, I am getting my interview, aren’t I?’ I said rather cheekily
The first week Mike was there, I handed in an expense chit for 20 shillings. ‘Come over here,’ he said as he headed for my typewriter, ‘let me show you how a white man writes his expenses.’ My humble 20 shillings chit was turned into 200.
‘Here you are,’ he said. ‘You are in the chair.’
‘You are buying the drinks at the Sans Chique’. The back door of the Nation, across a lane, led to the back door of the SC. He called me his shotgun rider. If there was a troublesome story, he sent me.
Bye, bye school
He pointed to the sofa that had been in his office for what seemed like centuries and had been the curse of every boy who had ever been asked to bend over. ‘And drop your pants,’ he commanded.
I told him: ‘I will not. My father never dropped my pants and I am certainly not going to do it for you.’
I put up a finger and slowly got up and said, ‘If it pleases Your Honour …’
Mrs. Riceborough boomed, ‘What is it, are you related to the accused?’
‘No your Honour, I am the probation officer,’ I replied rather sheepishly.
‘My God! They do breed them young these days, don’t they? Report back in two weeks.’
And there’s plenty more from where that came from but you will have to buy the book from Amazon.com or read it on Kindle!
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