A Plea for Intellectual and Cultural Activities
by Paschal De Mello
The Goan is a cosmopolite. He is ubiquitous. He knows no frontiers; he reckons not barriers. He adapts himself to all sorts of conditions of service and rigours of climate. He is deep down a family man. His interest in his own family is all absorbing.
He is versatile, talented and receptive. It is a well established platitude that there is no place on God's earth but a Goan has been in it, with the possible exception of the Antartic, of course. To the remote corners of Asia and Africa-indeed to any part of the world-the Goan has gone carrying with him the cross and the violin: now playing on the one, now praying to the other. He has fiddled his way into many hearts. And he has fiddled his wav into literature.
It is a pity that, to my knowledge, we do not possess a book giving a biographical sketch of our prominent people. Governors, diplomats, politicians, journalists, economists, writers, octors, etc., many with foreign reputation have figured in the annals of the Community's history.
Having broadly described the varied characteristics of the Goan and his intellectual attainments in public life, I have attempted in the paragraphs that follow to touch briefly on these activities separately and illustrated their significance.
Literary pursuits, to use the words of Cicero, employ youth, give pleasure to old age, make prosperity more prosperous. They are a solace in sorrow and amuse us when at home; they do not hinder us in our duties abroad, make our nights less lonely, and in our travels and sojourns they are our constant companions. In short, they are passports to great heights in life.
The general awakening which has taken place in the national life of nations has brought in its wake a movement for reviving their cultural heritage in its multiple forms, and in all parts of the world there is healthy rivalry to aim at the restoration of the artistic wealth of the people. If I were to suggest that we as a Community should strive our best to fall into line with the
revivalist movement, the whole idea would probably be looked upon as fantastic. But the recent presentations of Concanim performances in Nairobi gave me a good deal of encouragement to write on this subject with confidence and enthusiasm and to look forward to hopeful developments in our cultural life.
Goa possesses an enormous amount of folklore material including folk-songs, ditties, tales and legends which could easily be developed into more elaborate forms of music. The Goan folk song, as the term is commonly understood, may be classified under two main divisions: the Mando and the Dakni each of these terms embodying a dance of the same name.
The Mando as sung and danced today hardly bears any resemblance to the original, which was usually performed to the accompaniment of guitar, tabla and tambora. The Dekni, however, full of poetic romanticism, has the individuality and truly vernacular quality of a style rooted in the folklore. It still retains the peculiar genius of native Goan music. A quicker tempo of Mando is now usually applied to ballads known as Dulpods which usually depict people and events, heroes, characters and the conflict of social forces. These ballads originated from the village theatre, where music chiefly consisted of satire on society and its customs.
The term Goan folk-song would perhaps be correctly applied to Zothi, now an almost extinct type of folk music. In some parts of Goa these songs of the hoary past are still sung at wedding ceremonies and other festive occasions. It may yet be worth our while to capture these last relics of Goan folklore, these treasures of our rich and glorious heritage, for it is in these that one really finds humanity, sentiment, simplicity, poetry and lyricism; in fact all the qualities that make for the spirit of genuine art and culture.
Folk-song movements all the world over are working to spread the gospel of truth and sincerity that are the essence of all art. They tend to unify the world cultures through bonds of sympathy into a common civilization which alone can redeem humanity from the evils it is heir to.
Folk-songs are not the productions of professional musicians, but spring directly from the soul of the people, many of them are truly magnificent by reason of their poetic feeling, their originality and deep emotional content. Coincident with the rising tide of nationalism cultural movements are springing up everywhere today throughout the world. Great poets and philosophers are developing their centres of Art and Culture seeking fresh means of giving expression to their thoughts and feelings, embodying new life, new ideas and new forms associated with the images of their ideals. There is no doubt that members of our community possess in abundance aptitude for this culture. It is perhaps latent. Given the right incentive and impetus it can be fully developed. The same applies to musical talent.
It is to substantiate, though in the most insignificant measure, this claim to intellectual and cultural activities of our community that I have ventured to undertake this contribution on this auspicious occasion of the Golden Jubilee of the Institute. I make this plea for intellectual and cultural activities among the members of the Institute in the earnest hope that the lofty aims of the Institute to provide social, intellectual and sporting amenities to its members may be in keeping with the high traditions which the Institute has so richly inherited from its founders