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JOHN J D'SOUZA by Norman Da Costa and Merwin D'Souza

John de Souza – a Goan icon
    
  By Norman Da Costa and Merwin de Souza

    John de Souza was an indefatigable soul who, like Martin Luther King, harboured a dream. He was a Goan icon. He was a man of many talents. He was passionate about everything to do with the community – the Goan archives, his alma mater Dr Ribeiro’s Goan School and the local clubs. He was a historian and had the pulse of the nation at his fingertips. Ask him a question and within 24 hours you could be assured of an answer. Always willing to help on the condition he was kept in the background. He shunned being in the limelight.

  John had his finger in every pie and many wondered where he got the energy to keep on motoring day in and out after making that long trek to work from his home in Brampton to the Pickering Nuclear Plant a distance of some 70 k/ms each way. He would get home, freshen up and then give a few ladies a ride to bingos or any function being held that evening. That was John, always willing to lend a hand.

  His younger brother Romeo discovered John had passed away overnight on March 20 after a few phone calls went unanswered. The family usually met on March 19 to celebrate St. Joseph’s Day – the patron saint of Dr Ribeiro’s – and also to remember the day their father had died. This man with an encyclopedic mind saw his journey end at the age of 79 way too early since he had so many irons in the fire that needed urgent attention - primarily getting the different Goan organizations in Toronto together under one umbrella. He was rebuffed on several occasions but John wasn’t one to throw in the towel. He trudged on but his body obviously couldn’t pull him over the line. He will be remembered fondly for being the driving force behind several initiatives including the formation of the 55 Plus Goan Association, an organization in the west end of the Greater Toronto Association with a membership of 840.

The 55 Plus was formed after the West End Seniors could no longer accept any more members. He was also the heart and soul of the Active Goans Club at Mississauga’s Square One. John, of course, will always be remembered for single-handedly running the popular Goan Voice Canada website that featured local clubs and more importantly death notices. After several years John was forced to bring down the shutters on his favourite venture much to the chagrin of the community at large after Romeo had asked him if he had a succession plan. For the first time, John admitted defeat but he still had so much on his plate to keep him going. With help from Goans across Canada he promoted the Konkani Rosary in video and was a founding member of the Friends of Goan Welfare Society along with Jerry Lobo, Teresa Mandricks and myself to raise funds for needy Goans in Kenya. We intend to close the account in the coming weeks with a final donation in memory of John. John and I had a long relationship. We worked closely on three Dr Ribeiro Goan School Ex-Students, Canada, functions. John also kept in close contact with Merwin de Souza, another ex-student, who lives in Florida and, like John, spends countless hours keeping the extremely popular Goan School website alive.

John and I also worked on the Railway Goan Institute 100th anniversary celebration committee held in Mississauga on Sept. 20, 2009, and as co-editors put out a comprehensive 46-page glossy brochure. Of course, this piece wouldn’t be complete without a word from Merwin. 

“John was a history buff, particularly our Goan history,’’ wrote Merwin.  “He had an obsession for details, most of us would miss.  Recently he was obsessed with the old G.I. Duke St. building which was one of the few stone structures built in 1905 or so.  “Why stone? Do you know how much-corrugated iron roofing cost at the time . . .  the sheer cost?. . . . Why such a permanent structure when many of our pioneers at the time only had temporary permits?”  He'd question. Like I knew the answer?!  He was fascinated by a seminal 1955 Golden Jubilee G.I. brochure my dad published which to this day is often quoted in lieu of any other community records. Interestingly, among his many other roles, he also assumed the responsibility of community historian placing on record, in the many brochures he produced, the journey of our generation.

John would often say “If we don't know where we came from and the mistakes we made, how do we know where we are going and avoid re-inventing the wheel each time.”  A hint of his engineering background and continual improvement process would come out. “Never know why don't we do post-mortems on community events, figure out what worked, what didn't, what we can improve on the next time and pass the info on to new committees instead of reinventing the wheel . . . the only way we can make progress as a community.’’ 
His concern for the community was widespread from archiving a record of our contributions on this planet to raising the question should we as a community be concerned that our men and women of the cloth are being well looked after in their retirement.

Lately, it was becoming apparent John felt the time was running out and I could sense he was getting frustrated. The community has just lost its most valuable resource.”

Like Martin Luther King, John’s dream of unity in the Goan community remains just that . . . . a dream. Farewell, buddy, I will miss our weekly chats and I wish all those boxes filled to the brim containing prized newspaper cuttings will find a new home.


Trevor Pereira: Dear Brother...

A gentleman walked on Jaffa Dr.

23 February will always be a hard day for me, because one week ago on that day in the early hours of the morning my wonderful brother Eugene left us for his celestial abode. Celebrate my brain says, for he has gone home to his Heavenly Father where there is no more pain.... but without him around it's hard to do so, and the tears aren't dry yet. Then I think of the memories he left us with and a smile soon lights up my face. Besides being brothers, the closeness of our ages cemented us together.....helping or defending the other whenever/wherever was a natural reaction.

Early days/School days
This was played out growing up together in our humble dwelling in the Railway Quarters in Nairobi, Kenya. We cheered the other in sports, defending the other when we got into trouble and generally helping out with school work. In Primary school,  I recall being incensed when Eugene was harshly punished by a certain Indian educated teacher....so upset I was, that I marched to her office to challenge her!  In secondary school, we got in trouble for overstaying at the local agricultural show and covered for each other so we wouldn't get into further trouble with mum, for being home late.  For extra curricular activities he persuaded me to join the 'Konkani Club'...what I did not know was, a number of other boys/girls were also persuaded to sign up, to make it a fun class....Konkani learnt-zip, dance moves learnt-plenty!

London
Eugene finished his schooling in 1963 and in early 1964 at age 17 he declared he was going off to the UK with his pal Cyril Rebello and they would be working off their passage on a cargo ship sailing from Mombasa. The rest of us at home all protested that he was too young to take on such an arduous journey, but he insisted and mum taking into consideration the political winds blowing over Kenya gave in. Approx 2 years later he came home for a holiday and mum was chuffed to see her son smartly dressed in a 3 piece suite looking very suave and gently spoken....a youngster went out and a gentleman came back....where ever he went the admirers gathered and I fielded a lot of their enquiries!  I joined him in London in 1970, and there he was at Heathrow to meet & greet me. He always watched over me and helped me settle in. He Introduced me to Saville Row, London's bespoke tailoring street, where he got all his clothing. He told me he was offered a position in Gieves & Hawkes, a bespoke gentleman's clothing house, but turned it down as he did not come to London to be a tailor!  We lived in Muswell Hill in N London an aspiring neighbourhood, and Eugene was Mr Muswell Hill....many knew and loved this charming young man. Many moving on from E Africa stayed with him in London and were made very welcome.  Marriage soon beckoned and soon along came Karl. And then he was moving on again with his young family to Toronto, Canada.....I was not apprehensive this time around, after all he was an experienced man now.

Toronto
I followed in Eugene's footsteps and moved on to Toronto in 1988 with my family and there was Eugene at Pearson to meet/greet me again...again doing whatever he could to settle me in. He was more settled now, a family man with another lovely son in tow and yet he found time to achieve an accounting designation....full credit to you, Eugene!

Eugene was very much like Dad, hard working, always caring and kind.....though he was steps ahead in his dress sense...and he wore it well!

Many adjectives aptly apply to Eugene...well-dressed, charming, kind, caring, generous, fun-loving, humorous, readily come to mind.

I watched you struggle in the last few days Eugene and yet you never complained, instead you took time to tell me you are at the end of life in an effort to prepare me for the inevitable!  Thank you Maureen, Karl, Gavin and your respective families for doing your ALL for Eugene.

Thank you Lord for loaning Eugene to us, we loved him in life and will continue to love him in death.

And now Eugene you have gone ahead again. When I make it home I'm comforted in the fact that in usual fashion, you will be there to greet me. 

Yes indeed, a Gentleman, all suave and debonair walked on Jaffa Drive.

Thank you, thank you, thank you Eugene for being you.


JOHN J.D'SOUZA ...AN UNFINISHED CONVERSATION



A couple of pals: Juliet Rebello and John J. D'Souza
Regarding your earlier email about myself, my mantra:
Proverb. speak softly and carry a big stick. Do not boast or utter verbal threats, but do make others aware that you are prepared to take action if necessary.

Also I am kept in check by my many siblings - keep family out of any social media,,  they scold.
However, attached is some blurb from the 55PGA brochure which says enough and has been kind to me.

Also in time to come, will speak my mind if I have to. Some unfinished business on how I was  characterized in that journal earlier this year.

For the moment, my mind turns to late Felix Rodrigues, - boy next door at railway qtrs , same age and from  Class of 57. (refer to  Fr. Comerford)

The passing of Steve saddens. His dad and mine were elders in the  RGI. We too had big brothers to pave the way.  Margery's mum was our favourite Aunt.  Her grandfather in Goa was our next door neighbour  - from Badem, Assagao - endless stories to tell.  Olive too, in Nairobi, always there to help the less fortunate members of our village in bereavement and other matters.

You have struck the right tone with the 'Vanishing Goan'. It remains for us to plough on regardless or others think, and get more rafikis to put words on paper instead of watching  from the sidelines.

Have a Happy New Year.

John J. D'Souza

John J. D'Souza: The Catalyst

John J. D’Souza – The Catalyst


(During the past 12 months, Cyprian Fernandes badgered John to record some sort of biography, a miniature one (because to record his complete life would take several volumes). John kept telling Cyprian “one of these days”. Sadly, he never got around to it. Appended below is an excerpt from the 55PGA Tenth Anniversary souvenir– November 27, 2015 which is the closest thing to a mini-bio of JJD)

By Tim de Mello with files from Dr A.J. de Mello, Joseph R. D’Souza, Juliet Rebello and Muriel Lucas

“Do not to let the side down” was the refrain used by Father Frank Comerford, the Headmaster of the Dr Ribeiro Goan School, Nairobi, to one of his star pupils of the 1957 graduating year.

John J. D’Souza did not let the side down. He, together with the other star student of that class, Avinash Chitnis, did what was required of them and brought honour to that graduation year by achieving First Grade honours. I have known John for over half a century. He was in the same class at school with my elder brother Dr A. J. de Mello through the primary and secondary years.

My brother describes John as “. never one for the limelight and always studied hard to do well at school. I can still vividly remember him in class during lunch and other breaks, intently studying his notes, with his elbows on the desk and his ears covered with his hands.”

Outside school, John and my brother were altar boys at St. Francis Xavier’s Church Parklands, and a member of the Legion of Mary. John was diligent and dedicated serving at Mass, attending Legion meetings and visiting the sick. Later, John entered Royal College, Nairobi to study Civil Engineering. After graduating, he emigrated to the U.K. where he pursued a post-grad course in Civil Engineering at Imperial College, London.

 After ten years in the U.K., he was recruited by the Canadian Engineering Consulting Canatom NPM Inc. and brought to Canada to work in the civil engineering department of the Company’s nuclear program. On September 7, 2005, John asked me to attend a meeting of Goans at the Erindale campus of the University of Toronto. The aim was to set up a west wing of the Goan organization operating at the East end of Toronto called Toronto East Goan Seniors Association (TEGSA). After a couple of meetings, John together with TEGSA mentors Bel Remedios, Claude Gomes and Uvy Lopes, persuaded Tony Fernandes to take on the lead role of President of the newly minted 55 Plus Goan Association. Muriel Lucas was asked and graciously accepted the role of Secretary which she carried out with excellent efficiency. Today, the success of the 55PGA can be attributed in large part to those founding members and mentors.

John is passionate about his Goan roots and to help him foster a feeling of community amongst the Goans in Canada he started an online “newspaper” in 2002 called Goan Voice Canada. He has worked tirelessly to make “his baby” the success it is today.

John was always aware of the Goan contribution to Canadian life. In order to maintain a historical record of this Goan Catholic heritage for future generations, he was instrumental in setting up the Goan Archives - an online archive.

Today, John devotes himself whole-heartedly to the management of the Goan Cultural Group which meets every Wednesday at the Older Adult Centre at Square One in Mississauga. He is dedicated to promoting the Goan culture in Canada. Members of the GCG rely on John to maintain a strong and healthy environment at the Club. John tries to find ways to support our ageing (and growing) Goan population in the GTA. He would welcome any type of assistance in this regard. John continues to shun the limelight and remains an unsung hero. The Goan Community in the GTA is lucky to have such a person within our midst. He is one person that we can depend on “not to let the side down”.


Thank you, John!

John J. D'Souza a Canadian Goan icon: RF MD MM

John J. D'Souza... smiling in 2009 at the Railway Goan Institute 100 year celebration



JOHN J. D’SOUZA, a great loss

(This is a minor off-the-cuff tribute, I am sure greater and more in-depth recognition of the man and his devotion will soon follow)

THE NAME John J. D’Souza will no longer appear in my inbox. He passed away on March 20/21 (depending on where you are). He went to sleep the previous night and never woke up. We can surmise he slipped away in the gentle peace of the night. It would be typical of him to exit in this fashion. Along with a few Canadian Goans John Nazareth, Alcino Rodrigues, Braz Menezes, Emiliano Joanes, John Noronha, Armand Rodrigues, Astrid Fernandes, Jerry Lobo, Norman Da Costa, Juliet Rebello; from the US Merwin D’Souza; from London Mervyn Maciel and a few others, John played a pivotal role in our lives in the fascinating field of information gathering about Goans, Goans-related and everything else in the diaspora. He was equally passionate about saving every scrap of information, every snippet of a photo and anything online or on disc about our lives in Goa, East Africa and wherever else we might have come from. In the life of Canadian Goans, especially Toronto Goans, his departure will leave an almost unfillable gaping hole in the tapestry of the community since the arrival of the first Goan in Canada. More than that we will miss his infectious enthusiasm which he used with beguiling inspiration to push us onwards in our various quests for history’s sake.
John was an engineer, a graduate of the Royal College Nairobi before it became the University of Nairobi. He brought his precision engineering skills to writing. Like some engineers, he was not expansive with his words, he was more precise like any good engineer should be. He questioned, questioned and questioned until he was convinced the fact or the truth had been established or left it out if he was not.
Here is one of his most recent emails, don’t mind the shorthand:

Hi Skip,

cc: Merwin,


I am completing an in-depth article on the role of the Goan Community in setting up the Holy Family Church in Nairobi  1899 – 1963.  This is being finalized and checked. For reasons of brevity I have only made a passing reference to other Churches in the Archdiocese and plan to append a reference list. I need information and welcome those with the knowledge of times then, to submit their experiences. This will be added with the reference source documented.

pls, see attachment.

Ref 2 - is a ref to St Teresa's which was your home ground. There seems to be a huge complex in the area as viewed on Google Maps.  Also, the reunion that took place in the UK shows fond memories.  ( see Merwin's site).

I hope a one-page summary on the origins of St Teresa Mission and an upbeat article on the Goan contribution can be added for the once-and-for-all historical record.

John J. D'Souza






Role of the Goan Community in setting up Catholic Churches in the Nairobi Archdiocese (1899-1999)

Commentary by John J. D’Souza

I am completing an in-depth article on the role of the Goan Community in setting up the Holy Family Church in Nairobi 1899 – 1963. This is being finalized and checked.

For reasons of brevity I have only made a passing reference to other Churches in the Archdiocese and plan to append a reference list. I need information and welcome those with the knowledge of times then, to submit their experiences. This will be added with the reference source documented.

The Goan Community continued to be active in setting up Churches in the Nairobi Archdiocese, Besides the Holy Family Cathedral, the following are a number of references where the Goan Community was involved.

In ref 1 my childhood friend and Classmate 1957, the late Rev. Fr. Pelin D’Souza was the Pastor of St. Francis Xavier Church when it celebrated its Golden Jubilee in 1983. We were both baptized and received our First Holy Communion there.

The late Albert Fernandes, once mentioned that in the early years (the 1940s) St. Francis Xavier Church did not have a Priest’s house. The Rev. Fr. Butler ( later Bishop Butler of Mombasa) who was stationed at St Teresa’s, used to bicycle all the way to Parklands as early as 7.00 am to celebrate Mass. Today the same journey by car would take almost 2 hours!

In ref 2, I have only faint memories of St. Teresa’s, again a parish where the humble Goan Community played a leading role. I have asked xxxx to provide brief commentary.

In ref 3, the Shrine of Mary Help of Christians, my cousin, Fr. Tony D’Souza SDB, in Mumbai, came to Nairobi in 19xx under their “Project Africa” to set up a presence of the Salesians in Kenya and build the Shrine. Sadly I had long departed from Africa by then and have not visited the place.

There were Churches built in Nairobi South B & Westlands. I know very little about them and have asked former parishioners now in the GTA to provide a description.



Nov 2, 2017 - Goans have a long history with the church in Kenya. Dr Rosendo ... St Francis Xavier is the patron saint of missionaries.


Excerpt below ( Please note the statements below are those of the author of the article )

St Francis Xavier Catholic Church is situated at the junction of Parklands Road and Limuru Road (now Prof Wangari Maathai Road).

Built in 1933 and funded largely by the Goan community for their own use, the church is a silent reminder of those days of racial segregation.

Designed to a neo-gothic architectural style, walls are made of butch stone buttressed at regular intervals externally beneath a Mangalore tiled roof featuring a high, vaulted ceiling.

Windows are glazed in steel casements supported in arched openings with rose windows to the higher elevations. The walls are rusticated to external elevations giving the visual impression of an impenetrable fortress.

The statue of their patron saint Francis Xavier stands in the garden.

Today, the church is open to all races.

Ref 2 St.Teresa's Catholic Church-Eastleigh.
www.headlinesofmylife.today

Ref 3 - Shrine of Mary Help of Christians - Nairobi



Shrine of Mary Help of Christians
Don Bosco Upperhill

This is a very tiny glimpse into one project which I hope he has completed.


ROLAND FRANCIS: He was the historian of the Goan community in Canada. If you wanted any reference to what he said or context to whatever he chose to discuss, JJD would within 24 hours whip out an article, a post, a video or minutes of a meeting. If there was any record, he possessed it. It was natural that he was a part of the team of the Goan Archives project.

I met John many years ago in Toronto and I knew here was a man who could critically analyze issues unlike most in the community. While his engineering background may have contributed to it, his talents went beyond.

He spent endless hours thinking and acting outside the box on matters that affected Goans in Canada. A website here, a committee there, a panel here, a celebration there. John was a bachelor and one automatically assumed he had more time on his hands than the average person, but by itself that didn’t explain why you could see JJD where three or more people gathered in the name of a Goan cause. He simply loved Goans no matter he gnashed his teeth at the actions of some and he simply loved being with them. 

For many years, JJD single-handedly ran Goan Voice Canada a popular website that he started and which became an informal sounding board for the city. But after the passage of many years, it became even for JJD, a herculean task and he lamentably had to cut it loose. For those like myself who witnessed his pain over this, it was almost like a parent letting go of his favourite child.

John lived in Mississauga and I in the eastern part of Toronto, so while it was difficult to just connect in person over a meal or a cup of coffee on a whim, we talked often and we met frequently enough at events and gatherings. Always with a smile, JJD shared with me a lighthearted vision of our Goan cultural milieu and an even lighter hearted opinion of our ability to try to be agents of change.

He never talked about his health as most seniors are apt to do but of late when we conversed on the phone, he was always trying to impress upon me the tasks that needed to be completed before he lost his race with time. I remarked upon this but he just brushed my concern for his unusual pessimism.

I always visualized JJD like an old soldier never dying, only fading away and it is with a heavy heart that I read Cyprian’s notes to Goanet and to me that JJD had last night unwound the coils of the shuttle that loomed the fabric of his life.

Goodbye John and though I don’t believe in an afterlife, I do wish for you happiness with your rich Kenyan and Canadian memories that all of us who knew you, will in partnership cherish.

Roland Francis
Toronto.

BERNI GODINHO: RIP! You will be missed by the DRGS community dear John. It was good working with you on the DRGS reunion booklet. Your wit was what I admired most.

ERROL FERRAO: Such sad news, sincerest condolences to John's family. Truly appreciate your contribution to our community.

FRANCIS LOBO: John's contributions are global... thank RIP.

MANUEL TAVARES: John was instrumental in making sure the history of the Goans in Canada was documented and preserved for posterity.

MANNY CASTELLINO: What a loss to the community and his family. Sad, sad, sad.


MERWIN D’SOUZA: There's a phenomenon known as the Pareto Principle or the 80/20 rule which broadly states that, for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. Sadly, in our community, it is more like 90/10 rule.  John was one in our top 5%.   We were in touch 2/3 times a week and recently more often than that. 

His concern lately was about all the things our generation needed to accomplish to leave our footprints behind before 'the lights were turned off'.  He certainly wasn't one of our 90% b/s artists.  He was a doer, getting things done in his quiet, no fanfare manner.  With John it wasn't about the attention or accolades, it was about the bigger picture, being our better selves, the challenge and the satisfaction of scaling one peak and on to the next pinnacle.....making progress as a community.   He pushed and encouraged others to take on more but always expected twice as much from himself. 

As an engineer at heart, his organization, management and impeccable follow thru skills were qualities I deeply admired.  It is difficult for the average individual to appreciate the time and effort it takes just to run a periodical website unless one is totally immersed in it.  I understand just a little of that sort of undertaking, but John not only achieved this but at any time had another dozen community balls in the air he did not drop. His community vision, dedication, tireless energy and efforts, I am afraid, were never fully appreciated.  It will become evident over time that the Toronto community has lost a key mover and shaker. 


Bon voyage, my friend,











Merwin D'Souza




MERVYN MACIEL: I just can't believe what I've just read in Cyprian's tribute  - that John D'Souza of Canada is no more. I write this with a deep sense of shock as John was such an energetic soul and a 'Walking Encyclopedia' on anything related to Goans and especially Goans of East Africa.

Only last month, he sent me a message about my granduncle missionary
priest from Zanzibar – something I myself  did not know. Am including an extract from his e-mail below. John was ever willing and prompt to help with any information.

Although I never had the pleasure of meeting John in person, we've
communicated extensively over the years and I shall miss his wit and wisdom immensely.

May his soul rest in peace and may the Good Lord reward him for all the
good he selflessly did for others. My sincere condolences to his family.

Here's an extract from his last e-mail:


I have somewhere an article on your grand uncle Fr DeSa of Zanzibar -
cannot find it 🙁. He came to Nairobi 1902 or 3 to conduct a retreat in  "Concani" as the article says.

If you have a copy pls send at your leisure.

Not one to give up easily, John persisted and came up with this reply:

Mervyn,

See attached - he came to Nairobi for a month ~1906


John J. D'Souza

JOHN NORONHA: Deeply saddened by this awful news. His contribution to the Goan community is incredible and will be there for generations to come.








Tony Almeida: a world renowned architect


A great Goan architect

(A work in progress)


Photo by Ardash Nayar, a life-long friend
St Xavier's school in Dar es Salaam

ANTHONY B. ALMEIDA, the internationally known architect, who passed away at the age of 98 in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, was one of those rare Goans who chose to live and serve the African country of his birth. However, you could not take the Goan out of him completely. He was also close to Tanganyika’s (later Tanzania) first President, Julius Nyerere, himself one of the most outstanding leaders of an African country and one who stepped down from high office and into quiet retirement until his death. Tony, as he was known amongst his friends and family, designed Nyerere’s first home.

Tony was born in 1921 in Dar es Salaam to parents who had emigrated to Tanganyika from Goa. He was quite proud of the fact that he went to the J J School of Architecture in Mumbai (1941-1948). He often said that his architectural studies could be said to have been greatly enhanced by the fact that they took place in a land uniquely endowed with a rich heritage of ancient architecture. He was also impressed by the fact that the college also placed a great score on the study of this wonderful heritage.

Another element that also impressed was the group of foreign lecturers who taught at the college. The lecturers also enriched the library with publications and books on architecture from their home countries. Through this, Tony was able to keep abreast the modern trends in architecture from around the world. Through the library, Tony came to learn much about some of the giants of architecture of the time: Frank Lloyd Wright, Le Corbusier, Erich Mendelsohn, Alvar Santo and Oscar Niemeyer… Their influences instilled in Tony a principled search for modern solutions.

Tony worked for a little while in India and was soon elected an associate member of the Royal Institute of Architects of London.

He returned to Dar es Salaam in 1950 and quickly began designing commercial and residential buildings for the Asian community. His Indian influence was easy to spot, mainly by the soft/hard colours his creations were painted (colours that visible in abundance around India and especially during the festival of Holi). “The introduction of Art Deco in the trading quarters of the African cities is of predominantly Indian origin. It characterizes itself through pastel coloured concrete and plastered masonry façades applied too often quite straightforward and simple buildings. Most of these buildings have a combined commercial and residential use. In East Africa, these are called the duka, shops kept by the Indian trader, the dukawalla, who lives in the apartment above his shop. This typology and style remained popular throughout the 1930s to the late 1950s,” was how it was remembered in print many years later.

The first few years were a bit of a struggle but then the colonial government, in 1953, asked Tony to design various police stations/posts around the country. In 1954, the Goan community invited Tony to design a primary school (St Xavier's). While some colonial architects turn up their noses at the finished project, Tony would always remember it as the one that really made him Tanzania.

When independence came in 1961, Tony was in the right place at the right time. It was not long before, Tanzania was bereft of any white colonial or Asian architects and he was soon designing large office blocks, a library, hospital and lots and lots of new projects. One that is close to his heart is “new” home of the Goan Institute Dar es Salaam he designed for the Goan community. In its infancy, it was quite posh and revolutionary. Folks loved the place. 

Amongst other architects that advocated an African ‘critical regionalism’ in their work and writings are Anthony Almeida (born in 1921) in Tanzania, Jean François Zevaco in Morocco, Norman Eaton in South Africa and Demas Nwoko in Nigeria. Engineering Modernity in African Architecture.

The introduction of Art Deco in the trading quarters of the African cities is of predominantly Indian origin. It characterizes itself through pastel coloured concrete and plastered masonry façades applied too often quite straightforward and simple buildings. Most of these buildings have a combined commercial and residential use. In East Africa, these are called the duka, shops kept by the Indian trader, the dukawalla, who lives in the apartment above his shop. This typology and style remained popular throughout the 1930s to the late 1950s.

From various sources.


VIVIAN A. D’SOUZA (In Goans_Tanzanite) Relatively short in stature and slight in build, but a Giant of a personality.   This was our late departed beloved Tony Almeida.  He was friendly but unassuming.  Of course, my memory goes back to the time I last saw him, over 50 years ago in Dar es Salaam.

Truly, he was an architectural genius.  Our Dar es Salaam Institute is one among many brilliant designs that came from his drawing boards. Our club was founded and known as the Goan Institute until the name was changed in 1963 to
Dar es Salaam Institute, in keeping with the times  Tony's concept of the building, was like a giant "G" . when seen from a bird's eye view.  The G enveloped the “Ï" which was the open air sunken dance floor…

The land for our DI was acquired after the First World War, from the Custodian of Enemy Property, and our intrepid ancestors were able to acquire the great piece of property which was strategically located and convenient to the Goans who at the time all lived in town.  The original Goan Institute was like a giant red roof tiled bungalow, with the Hall being the centrepiece of the building, with a large playground on the side where we played football and hockey etc.   With a burgeoning membership, the club became too small to serve the membership, and a new building was planned.  And who else to design the building then our very own member and illustrious architect Tony Almeida. 

Tony faced many design challenges.  To help fund our new building, half of the playing field was sold to an Oil company to establish a Petrol station.  Part of the building (below the Hall)  gave way to commercial space,  which provided a stream of revenue to pay the building loan.  So Tony was, left with constricted space, to construct a facility that would meet the need of our Goans.   And the result is evident for all to see.  It is a lasting legacy to this great Architect.

As long as the building stands, it will be a lasting memorial to him.  I do not recall a plaque within the DI  acknowledging who the Architect was.  Tony probably in his unassuming manner would have objected.   But now that he is no longer with us, I think, a plaque placed in a strategic location within the building should be installed in lasting memory of this great guy.
And the appropriate time to unveil the plaque would be at the Centennial celebrations in December.

Tony, may you Rest in Eternal Peace, in the arms of the Lord !   Kwaheri  Mzee !   Tuta onana.......

  Vivian A. D'Souza (Hon. General Secretary - 1961-1963)
ALBERTINA DOURADO (Goan_Tanzanite): I knew Toni Almeida personally (yes he spelled his name with an i) as he is the father of my classmate and friend Alison.  In fact I know the whole family as I went to their place frequently when I lived in Dar.  When Alison was studying in England they would pick me up and take me to the airport to meet her when she came back for summer holidays.  I also exchanged Christmas cards with Toni after I moved to Canada. I kept in touch my friend Alison over all these years and she told me about his passing. He was cremated today (March 20th) at 10 a.m. and Mass was held at St. Peter's at 4 p.m. local time.  I had two long conversations with him when I was in Dar in 2015. He also designed his house in Oyster Bay where he continued to live till his death.  He was an amazing man and still had a sharp recollection of everything.

May his soul rest in peace.
May his soul rest in peace.

The work of Anthony Almeida
Courtesy of Sharp architects and ArchiAfrica
Of the local architects, one stands out for particular mention: Anthony Bosco Almeida (1921-). He came from a very different background to the colonial émigré architects. He was not blown into Tanzania by the western winds. He was born there. His parents were from Goa.  His architectural training was in India where he attended – from 1941-47 – the Sir JJ School of Arts in Bombay. His brother, a well-known architect in Goa today, also trained there. The head of the JJ School, Claude Batley, had a great influence on Tony Almeida leading him into an interest in history and knowledge of modern architecture. He introduced him to the work of Frank Lloyd Wright.
In 1948 Almeida became an Associate of the RIBA when he was working in offices in Bombay. That year he returned to Tanganyika and in 1950 set up his own practice in Dar es Salaam in offices on the corner of Samara Avenue and Bridge Street which he still occupies.
Almeida belongs to a generation of architects whose buildings express their functional and social commitment to society, offering by built example or practical demonstration of their skills as architects rather than through publications and theories.
Tony Almeida’s brother Sarto, in India, was committed to the development of ideas worked out with Doshi at the time Le Corbusier and Louis Kahn were also building in Ahmedabad, but later connected with the regional characteristics of Goa and Indian cultures. Tony Almeida drew from the international reservoir of architectural ideas. These included the functional and Corbusian aspects of the Modern Movement and Miesian structuralism and transparency. Frank Lloyd Wright’s ideas are reflected more in his planning and landscape work than in his form giving which are tuned, like a weather vane,  to local conditions.
Almeida was one of the first of the Tanzanian architects to employ simple rules about sun shading in his buildings taking the lead from Le Corbusier’s brise soleil but – like Amyas Connell in Kenya – did not fight shy of using perforated screens for shading interiors.  He knew well from his Indian connections that sun shading devices afforded pattern and transparency as well as protection which could materially affect the external appearance of facades of new buildings. For example in the Regional HQ for the East Africa Community of 1965 he employed horizontal shading shelves while with St Joseph’s Secondary School (1955) and the Goa Club (1959) facades was more geometrically patterned. Almeida’s buildings are highly regarded and constantly used although sadly for commercial reasons his carefully detailed and colour scale Central Library will be topped by a new and ill-considered addition by another architect. The clear and simple characteristic of this building first designed in 1968 was its elevated first floor with a central well-lit court and stairwell. Approached from another staircase also in the street it was a lively addition to the Dar street scene but has now been forced by an understandable increase in demand to respond to the re-scaling of the city around the central business area.
His own house at Oysterbay of 1963 he is modest about. A neat, flat-roofed, well-planned, cool (not air-conditioned!) and functional unit of family accommodation it is set out in three zones. These zones cover the activities of living and entertaining, kitchen services and dining and a further first-floor living room and bedrooms above a ground floor garage. In between a courtyard garden acts as the open air area for the house.
Almeida’s large scale structures include the Regional HQ of the East Africa Community in Dar of 1965 which is an eight-storey RC building fashioned somewhat like a miniaturised Unité. His two taller eleven-storey concrete buildings: the National Insurance Corporation of 1970 and the Tanzania Harbours Corporation of 1974 rely on a more conventional square format.
In 1975 Almeida was commissioned to design an interdenominational Joint Christian Chapel for the University of Dar es Salaam. Situated opposite a somewhat truncated Mosque, designed by Ernst May and financed by the Aga Khan, the two structures provide a small, quiet religious enclave in a university complex that is elegantly spread out, well landscaped and boasting many fine modern buildings designed by Norman and Dawbarn, a British firm which still has offices in Dar. The key to the design of the church is to be found in its simple, formal and symmetrical plan with a central chapel and two side chapels and two vestry’s adjacent to the dual entrances. The main square shaped central chapel rises through the building to end up as a great cantilevered flat concrete roof embracing the smaller and lower side chapels. Circular stairs punctuate the entrance corners and act as successful counterpoints to the hard-edged fine concrete architecture of the chapel as a whole. Although built some thirty years ago the JCC stands as a reminder of that tough Brutalist period of Modern architecture associated with Denys Lasdun, the Smithson’s and Lyons Israel and Ellis in the UK whose buildings were widely published in international journals and were no doubt familiar to Almeida.
His Goa Club or Dar es Salaam Institute (1960) is still situated on a corner site in the busy central area of Dar. Another reinforced concrete structure with perforated walls and overhanging roofs it was designed to provide clubhouse facilities for the members of the Goan community in Dar although few are left today. It is entered from a tight, busy, densely packed urban street and opens up from a centrally placed doorway. Inside an oasis of architectural forms that curve around the sunken garden area with an open-air dance floor, now unfortunately neglected and overshadowed by surrounding buildings. Another building for the community, St Xavier’s Primary or ‘The Goan school’, is one of Almeida’s most interesting and successful Modernist buildings. It was completed in 1954.
In 1960 Almeida received the award of ‘Chevalier of the order of Prince Henry the Navigator‘ from the Portuguese government for his design for the Vasco da Gama Memorial sited on the Kenyan coast at Malindi.
Almeida’s “11th Commandment”
At a meeting last summer Tony Almeida gave me a copy of a rare catalogue of Frank Lloyd Wright’s work and a special issue of a magazine on Wright. It was a touching gesture as it was these two items that he carried back with him to Tanzania from Bombay in 1948. Such generosity is typical of someone who has given of his talents unstintingly to the people of Dar es Salaam and to his own community in Tanzania. I mention this because on the back page of the copy he gave me there is a note from Tony to me that says simply ‘11th Commandment’. It is from the ‘Studio’ Buddha and in the special issue of the Architectural Forum, January 1948 on Frank Lloyd Wright.  It reads: “Except to an ignoramus or intellectualist, nothing imitative can equal that which is imitated. Instead of imitating effects, search for the principle that made them original and owns your own effects.”
It is Almeida’s originality as an architect that has led to an interest in acknowledging the body of work he has produced over a lifetime. This raises the vexing question of the conservation and indeed the documentation of this body of work. To this end, the ARCHIAFRIKA  foundation project has been set up to study modern architecture in Tanzania around independence and in particular the work of Anthony Almeida. The project involves the universities of Eindhoven, The Netherlands and Leuven, Belgium assisted by a number of international specialists knowledgeable in the architecture of East Africa. Currently, applications are being made for financial backing for the research which aims to produce an exhibition, catalogue publications, photographic records etc as well as seminars and conferences in the University of Dar es Salaam.

The ARCHIAFRIKA Foundation can be contacted at PO Box 14174, 3508 SG, Utrecht, The Netherlands  Email: info@archiafrika.org