Thursday, February 8, 2018

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)


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 
Canada.  L4Y 3L1

3174 Huxley Drive
Mississauga Ontario
L5L 4S7
905 607 1395


Norman Da Costa
26 Lilly Crescent
Brampton Ontario
L6Y 3K3


Juliettee De-Menezes D’Costa
The Jays
177 Covington Way
SW16 3AH


Cyprian Fernandes
+612 98963646 

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