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Emiliano Joanes on Stars Next Door

The Stars Next Door
By Cyprian Fernandes

It is all there neatly packaged in a book entitled Stars Next Door by none other than our Goan icon Cyprian Fernandes whose first book Yesterday in Paradise was a knock-out of excellent writing of his life.
Stars next Door has nostalgia gleaned from Memory Lane of an era that has evaporated and become cobwebs in the minds of the many now elderly Goans that contributed to the Goan life that was fascinating, challenging and memorable in the paradise landscape of Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania.
Cyprian accepted articles for the book from the likes of Norman Da Costa, John J. D’Souza, Mona Dias, Francis Noronha and others. Hilary Fernandes paid a glowing tribute to Master Anthony D’Souza, a teacher at the Dr. Ribeira Goan School who single handily coached the young Goan men to become Hockey Olympians. Yes, Anthony D’ Souza was a star next door in his own humble right. Then there is the story of Julian Costa Silva multi-talented, a pioneer Goan musician who sang Swahili songs at the Mombasa Goan Institute.
The book should be a sellout. It is full of interesting stories that tell about the Goan musicians and singers and not just dwelling on the Hockey Olympians.
The Stars Next Door says it all about the Goan psyche. No matter where pockets of Goans are Toronto, Texas, London, or Sydney, the Goan has proved that he or she can adapt and shine and stand out in the crowd. The Stars Next Door tells it all.
--Emiliano Joanes

Stars Next Door: A review by Iris Gomes

Stars Next Door: A Review

Iris C F Gomes

Stars Next Door by Cyprian (Skip) Fernandes is a compilation of the stories of East African Goans who shone as sportspersons and musicians. The book, which is a tribute to the prowess of this section of the Goan diaspora, carries contributions from other authors like Hartman de Souza. It is interesting to learn how Goan talent was nurtured to the extent it was, bringing in international recognition in some cases. The Goa, 1556 published tome is admirable in its efforts to keep alive the memory of these impressive men and women who achieved much with fewer facilities than we have in these times.


The making of Seraphino Antao, a record-breaking ace sprinter from Kenya, is quite a tale. From a barefoot sprinter, he rose to become a double gold winner at the 1962 Commonwealth Games in Perth, Australia. His retirement from athletics was a follow-up to a heart-breaking loss at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. Albert Castanha was an all-round sportsman, excelling in soccer, hockey, cricket, badminton and so on. He was also Seraphino Antao’s closest competitor. Politics rears its ugly head in Norman Da Costa’s story of Roland Collaco, the man whose skill as a goalkeeper took the Ugandan hockey team to the 1972 Olympics in Munich, but he was prevented from participating himself.
Hartman de Souza’s musings of his love affair with football as a child growing up in Kenya are interwoven with stories of Feisal, the best team in Mombasa in the late 1950s and the 1958 World Cup with Brazil’s triumph. Through his writings, Hartman, the adroit wordsmith, nonchalantly takes jabs at India’s corrupt governance, the seeping in of capitalist culture in sports and racism.


The Goan cricket team in Uganda was a formidable one that had dominance in the latter half of the forties and boasted of players such as Michael Texeira and Celly Dias, as John Noronha recalls. Hilary Fernandes, or the ‘wizard of dribble’, was an astute hockey player. His accomplishments are recorded as being selected thrice for the Olympic Games and having earned the most medals of all Goan hockey players.

Bertha Fernandes is one of the hockey players mentioned in the book with the highest number of international appearances as a Goan representing the Kenyan hockey team. Sisters Astrid and Mitelia Fernandes make an impression, with each having won the Dr Ribeiro Goan School track and field championships four years in a row and having excelled in hockey as well. Mitelia continued to bring pride to her homeland by winning the Premier of Ontario Award for Contribution in Sports to Canada twice, after she had migrated to the country.

From the realm of sports, the book moves to musical stars. Edmund Silveira acknowledges the recording of a jazz CD with well-known bassist James Woode as the height of his career as a jazz pianist. The multi-talented Jack Fernandes finds a place in the book. As a singer, song writer, drummer, tiatrist, sprinter, football player and so on, he seems to represent a one-man microcosm of abilities most associated with Goan culture. Henry Braganza, who was also a sportsman in multiple fields, was privileged to back US Country and Western singer Skeeter Davis.




A picture paints a thousand words and Stars Next Door is dotted with them, bringing to life a bygone era of superlative Goan sportsmanship and music. The book does not follow a single pattern of writing, moving from reportage to narrative essays to interviews in the question and answer format. Though the style may not consistently appeal to all readers, Stars Next Door, with its feel of a magazine, does work as a refreshing change from the usual monotony of a non-fiction novel.


To be an academic work, far more research and writing would be required and most general readers steer clear of academic works, in my opinion. Therefore, as it is, the book is readable because of the simple language and would definitely appeal to avid sports and music fans, as well as contemporary history buffs.


Stars Next Door serves its purpose in capturing moments in the history of the Goan diaspora that might have died with the authors or the sportsmen and musicians mentioned in it and could surely act as an inspirational volume to generations of young Goans to come.

Cyprian Fernandes: Evoking memories of a bygone era

Memories evoked by “Stars Next Door” by Cyprian Fernandes

Book Title: Stars Next Door Author/Editor: Cyprian (Skip) Fernandes Publisher: Goa,1556  279 pages   Cost: Rs. 600  AUD$25 (Postage extra) 165 photographs (many full-plate). The photographs alone are worth the cost of the book! Ordering information available from: Cyprian Fernandes – e-mail: skipfer@live.com.au In Canada, contact: John Noronha – e-mail: johnnoronha72@gmail.com ; Cell: 647-643-4029; In the Toronto area, John’s land line # is 905-273-4029. Towards the end of February, John will be visiting his daughter in Calgary and he will have copies of the book with him. Contact him to reserve a copy as he does not have many left.

By and large, Goans are a hardworking community who take our responsibilities seriously. When a hard day’s work is done, however, we like to relax. In the second half of the last century in East Africa, there was an unprecedented outburst of achievement in two spheres of activity that Goans have always been passionate about: sports and music. In both spheres, a dazzling array of outstanding performers emerged in our relatively small community, many gaining local and  national recognition and a surprising number achieving international stature. 

As I was born in 1936, I was a teenager caught up in the explosion of athletic and sporting talent that took place in the 1950’s and 1960’s. I loved all sports and would gladly have sacrificed my academic grades to be a soccer, hockey or athletics star. I participated enthusiastically in a wide range of sports but, alas, I was destined to be mediocre at best in all. I hero–worshipped the Nairobi Heroes and was there for every game they played. I took it all in, the intensity of the game, the consummate skill of the players, the fierce loyalty of the supporters and the inevitable brawls that inevitably broke out at the end of many games. One way or the other, you got your money’s worth, My favourite player was an Egyptian, Mohd. Ghalib, elegant, skilful, an absolute delight to watch. He made us aware that great things were happening in the sport in other parts of Africa.

My classmates included Anthony Vaz, Reggie Monteiro, Tom Fernandes. On the hard-baked murram patch of ground near the Railway Quarters in Nairobi, I got to play with the likes of Alu Mendonça, Silu Fernandes, Hilary Fernandes, Edgar and Egbert Fernandes who were destined for greatness. In the classroom, Mr. Anthony D’Souza, my inspiring English teacher, introduced me to the magic of words when strung together in a skilful manner, the beauty of poetry, the genius of Shakespeare. The brilliant hockey coach that he was, I would much rather he transformed me to a hockey wizard like my friends who were heading for Olympic glory against such titans as India and Pakistan.

Anyway, that is the background I brought to “Stars Next Door,” a copy of which I received a few days ago. I have devoured the book from cover to cover and am now returning to spend more time on each of its 42 “chapters,” savouring the memories that each chapter brings. 

“Stars Next Door” is a rambling compendium chronicling the achievements of many persons I knew and several of whom I was proud to call my friends. It is inevitable that as their stories are told, many of their non-Goan contemporaries will make an appearance. However, this book is essentially focused on Goans who achieved highly and earned glory for themselves and their community through their talents and efforts. The author, Cyprian Fernandes, as a sportsman himself, and as a Sports reporter for the Nation newspapers, knew many of the people in the book personally. The
scope of the book is  daunting, however, as it covers over half a century of accomplishments in a wide range of endeavour in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. As if that were not enough of a challenge, the story continues in other countries, as Goans were forced by the winds of change to depart from the East African countries they had grown to love to seek their fortune in other lands, primarily Britain, Canada and Australia,. 

To cope with the immensity of the task, Cyprian has chosen to invite several guest writers to cover areas of their expertise or where they had personal knowledge of a topic. Thus we have, for instance, John Noronha very ably covering the sports scene in Uganda, and Hilary Fernandes writing a personal and insightful tribute to Anthony D’Souza, a man that so many of us found to be a great mentor, on and off the field of play. Such was my personal debt to Mr. Anthony, as we called him, that I would have bought the book even if it had only that tribute and nothing else.

Quite by chance, I am one of the guest writers. One of musicians that Cyprian Fernandes wanted to feature was George DeSouza who began his career in Dar es Salaam, emigrated to Canada, honed his skills as a troubadour with cross country tours in the U.S.A. and Canada before settling down to a 25-year stint as the resident entertainer in Dick Turpin’s Pub at the Royal York Hotel in Toronto. As he is now happily retired in Lethbridge where I also happen to live, I was happy to interview him and do the write-up that appears in the book.

Besides George, you will also find many other talented musicians whose bands were in great demand for social events. Individuals like Henry Braganza were popstars in their own right. I would have liked some mention of the Goans whose skill with the violin (Tony Alvares, Aires Campos and  Albert Rodrigues), the woodwind (Anthony “Oboe” Noronha), and the cello (Braz Rodrigues) made them prominent in Kenya musical circles. When they emigrated, they continued their love of classical music with the London Philharmonic, the Royal Ballet and other orchestras in Britain. They and other musicians of their ilk deserved mention. 

One of the guest contributions is “Growing Up With The Cup,” a 26-page treatise by Hartman de Souza, a Nairobi-born journalist who moved to India in 1967 and is now based in Pune. The link with Goan sports and athletics in East Africa is a bit tenuous but one could not be passionate about any sport in Kenya without following what was happening on the world stage – and what better time for that then the Fifties and the Sixties? “Growing Up With The Cup” is an extremely well written analysis of how in 1958 the Brazilian football wizards led by the Black Pearl, Pele, demolished the set-in-stone European 2-3-5 system with their 4-2-4 system and revolutionised the Beautiful Game forever. Thank you for including this article, Cyprian. It was like a half-time entertainment – one to sit back and enjoy!

“Stars Next Door” has its flaws which a good editor and proof reader given more time could have eliminated. Also, I can think of a few other Goans who merited inclusion. If you can think of some, let Cyprian know. I am sure that this book will be a sell out and Cyprian is going to have to bring out a second edition in which he may be able to use our suggestions. Everyone of my vintage and younger should have a copy of this book. I find myself leafing through it again and again, stopping when I come to some well-remembered name – or one that I had not heard of before. I study the photographs, find out more about friends. Take Jack Fernandes, for instance. I came to know Jack in Nakuru where I was a teacher in the Sixties. Jack played soccer with the Nakuru Dynamos. He was a joy to watch with his body swerve, speed and ball control. Then I saw him perform on a stage! He was a natural – a good singer, a great actor whose every move was followed by the audience. He was a Charlie Chaplin-like comic with a terrific sense of timing and able to bring out
the full gamut of emotions in his audience. The more I came to know him, the more I admired his many talents. Little did I realise until I was reading the account of the greatest Goan sprinter ever, Seraphino Antao, that Jack was also one of Mombasa’s elite squad of world-class sprinters running with the likes of Seraphino, Albert Castanha, Joe Faria, Pascal Antao and Alcino Rodrigues. With all his abilities, Jack remained a modest, unassuming man with a smile that endeared him to all who met him – truly a Star Next Door.

To say that I have enjoyed “Stars Next Door” would be an understatement. I know that I shall return to the book frequently to renew my acquaintance with that wonderful group of men and women who distinguished themselves in the last fifty or sixty years in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania and whose achievements will inspire future Goans to build on that legacy.

Thank you, Skip, for bringing this book to life!

Francis Noronha Lethbridge, February 2018

Stars Next Door in Mombasa's Coast Week


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Braz Menezes on Stars Next Door

Author Matata series Braz Menezes













Last week I received my copy of Stars Next Door by Cyprian (Skip) Fernandes (Goa 1556).
I found myself turning over the pages of a family album - a large family in a small Goan community, dispersed across a vast region of colonial British East Africa. In the early 60s, four independent nations of Kenya, Uganda, Tanganyika and Zanzibar were born.  In those pre-internet days, it was the sporting networks that allowed such talent to maintain contact, grow and thrive both at the national and international level. This ‘anthology’, expertly curated by Cyprian Fernandes, perceptively focuses on Sports and Music. 
Seraphino Antao was of my generation. I can remember how within a few minutes of a race ending, the news of Antao’s win would have reached the Goan clubs and bars. A cheer would go up; a fresh round of drinks ordered; another toast drunk to our Goan family member from Mombasa. He made us proud. We as a community could look up. At midnight when the papers hit the streets, we would zero in to the Nation Sports Page for Cyprian’s gripping account and in later years, Norman Da Costa.
It was the same with field hockey. Silu, Alu, Hilary, Edgar, Egbert, Saude, Reynold, Leo and others - classmates and friends at the Dr. Ribeiro Goan School. We basked in their glory, but the talent and hard work was theirs alone.
It was pleasure to read the tribute to ‘Master’ Anthony D’Souza by Hilary Fernandes. He taught us diligently to love Math and English at DRGS, but his passion was in coaching the hockey players, and what a fine legacy he has left behind!
There are others like Johnny Lobo and the Nairobi Heroes, but must leave soccer and women’s sports for another time.
Our Goan musicians that played at the Goan clubs in Nairobi, Mombasa, and Daresalaam and Kampala, were also household names and of our generation. Edmund Silveira’s piece reminded me of the rap across the knuckles that Mother Gertrude would dish out with a wooden ruler, if we appeared to slack at the Catholic Parochial School in 1946. Edmund studied piano. Four boys next door took violin lessons. One day heard her wooden clogs on the cement corridor retuning to the class. We stopped our ‘fencing’ tournament with our bows. There was an accident. My violin crashed to the floor. My musical career ended. What a legend Edmund has become his own lifetime.
Henry Braganza, Max De Souza, ‘Couti’ Delfine Da Costa, and the others kept us entertained through those years. They too were classmates. When they left, they seemed to have ended up in Canada. They are still here. Others on that long list have settled in the UK and Australia.
One of the joys of turning over the pages of Stars Next Door is see the continuity of the Goan endeavor in both sports and music, in spite of the family upheavals and disruption of migration across oceans and time zones ranging from Australia to Canada. These Stars or their progeny have restarted and carried on. I was recently estimating that there must be at least fifteen professional Goan bands including ‘one-man bands’ that play in the Greater Toronto Area to multicultural Canadian audiences. Liquid Jazz is a standard on CBC Radio.
What Cyprian has achieved in drilling down into some of the ‘Stars’, is assemble conveniently for posterity, the richness of Goan Society during 60s and 70s. 
I hope now that Cyprian will find the time and resources to put out another publication that will cover a similar close-up view of the Goans employed in Education and Health, during the same period of time. There are teachers, doctors, midwives, whose stories need to be told.
 Congratulations Skip! A great contribution and supplement to Yesterday in Paradise.
Congratulations to Frederick Noronha and Goa 1556 for another fine publication.
Braz Menezes, Burlington, ON, Canada

Stars Next Door is available from the following people:

In Goa

Frederick Noronha
784, Near Lourdes Convent
Sonarbhat SALIGAO PO
Bardez Goa
9822122436 (please SMS if you can't get through)
0832-2409490 (landline)

Canada


Astrid D. Fernandes,
30 Allenwood Crescent,
Toronto, Ontario, Canada,
M2J 2R2   Tel:  416-733-1141


Lan.  905 273 4029
Cell.  647 643 4029

John Noronha
3542 Burningelm Cres 
Mississauga 
Canada.  L4Y 3L1

SILU FERNANDES (silufernandes@rogers.com)
3174 Huxley Drive
Mississauga Ontario
L5L 4S7
905 607 1395


 



Norman Da Costa
26 Lilly Crescent
Brampton Ontario
L6Y 3K3
9054521295

London


Juliettee De-Menezes D’Costa
The Jays
177 Covington Way
Norbury
London
SW16 3AH
+447557587079

Sydney

Cyprian Fernandes
+612 98963646