Monday, October 28, 2019

Old Farts: Fred's story

Old Farts: Fred’s tale

Fred walked in and in one motion safely slumped into the chair and at the same time put down the pint of double extra dry lager. After pondering his surroundings including his drinking mates, he reached for the glass of beer and before getting it to his lips he saluted his fellow drinkers with a somewhat belligerent “cheers.”

Alan was doing his usual SBS cooking review and was going on and on about some new vegetable he had seen being cooked somewhere in Thailand. He was swearing on a pile of Bibles that the veg was the same as that which he had eaten in Kenya called Sukuma weekie.  Various voices were trying to tell him that the vegetable he was in fact referring to was called kail or kael or a spelling to that effect.

Fred smashed the chaotic scene with a thunderous clap of his hands.

“Guys,” he said, “ I got to tell you that today I realized I was officially an old man. I saw the evidence looking at me square in the eye in the barber’s mirror. The mirror could never lie. …”

He was interrupted by Dr Google aka Jake, “You are only young as you feel. You might look old, but if you feel young at heart, you are young.”

"Besides we have known that you have been an old man (by a year more than the rest of us) for a long time ... nothing new about that."

“Bullshit,” retorted Fred. “My face is smaller than a Kensington mango and darker than a small-sized avocado. My head used to be a somewhat interesting mixture of hair that frizzed up long strands of salt and pepper. The pepper has been long gone and the strands of salt are beginning to drop off, almost as if they were leaving a sinking ship. The Elvis Presley curls are today just a dim memory as those wonderful rock n roll jiving days. Having a little trouble even doing the two step these, more of that later. My brow looks like it has been fashioned by mini-road trains that ply the highway to Perth. The tramlines are deep rutted and bone dry/ My cheeks are hollowed and bones are simply dying to find daylight. I sometimes try to camouflage my face with a beard more suited to Father Christmas than a dark tanned former road worker.

“Yea, yea, Dr Google and Dr SBS are going to tell me to use some women’s beauty tips. There was a time when she-who-must-be-obeyed used to put some cream on the bags under my eyes and for a while it worked. But now there crows feet every I look and I even have mini nightmares about them. At 76 it is too late for that … that little bird has flown away and I am growing old and ugly gracefully, preferably with a pint of beer in my hand. Oh, I forgot to mention the eyebrows. The barber was picking the grey hairs out but soon that too will be a lost cause because they will all be grey (white) or none at all or they will all find refuge in my ears, many keep heading there and the barber keeps snipping them.”

Charlie who had been rolling his eyes heaven-wards throughout the evening, simply said: “If you are so conscious of your greying hair, why don’t you just dye it like everyone else?”

“You really want me to answer that daft suggestion?” puked Fred.

“I reckon my cardiologist, gastroentorologist and my orthopedic surgeon are going to have a real blue one of these days.

“Consider this: several years ago, after a thousand tests, the gastro guy declared that I was lactose intolerant. So, no milk, milk products including cheese, ice cream and a lot of stuff like that.

“I have these various bones in my neck pressing down nerves. The ortho has kept me going with a cortisone injection now and then, regular physio (thanks to a very special lady) and regular walking. So, the other day he wanted to try something else and prescribed me a drug which contains … wait for it … lactose. So I am going to see him on Wednesday.

“After an incident with my heart in India, the cardiologists recommended lots of fruit and veg … found out recently that cheeries, strawberries, red apples and, wait for it, pears were cause of my bout of gout and Bombay belly runs … seeing both the gastro and the cardio this week.

“Only discovered recently that the medication prescribed by the cardiologist for cholesterol also impacts on the muscles … another thing I have to clear with them soon.”

“The problems in my neck were caused by many hours working at the computer for a few decades and did not manifest themselves until about 12 years ago.

“Ah the lower back, don’t even mention it.”

"There is one slight saving grace ... since giving up the alcohol and adopting the eat lifestyle of a monk, the diabetes blood tests are below 6 and I don't have to pin-prick test each morning... except a blood test every six months.

“So, guys, there you have it, I am looking and feeling a little old. But I am not dead yet. I am heading off to Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam for a few weeks, trying to empty the bucket list.”

Armando, who is often lost in his own thoughts, suddenly piped in: “So what brought on this Grim Reaper’s impending victim feeling?”

Fred: “Hey, I did not say I was going to die tomorrow. It might happen, I don’t know. I was just telling you guys, that looking in that barber’s mirror I was beginning to feel a little ancient, even a little weary.

“Oh, by the way. I finally managed get someone to do the lawns. A horticulturalist no less. Will try and find someone to clean the house one of these days.”

Dr Google: “Well if you are feeling a bit old, why are you going on another long trip. Isn’t that a little dumb? Shouldn't you just take it easy for a while, recharge your batteries?”

Fred: “Batteries are getting old, nearly past their use-by dates. I am going to make the most of it while I can. By the way, I have no complaints whatsoever, there is always someone else, sadly, who is often worse off. Considering all my ailments, I am pretty good and I have missed for nothing.”

Jason, who normally does not really venture an opinion, said rather sheepishly: "I think you are just going through one of those phases ... probably just feeling a little sorry for yourself and a little alone."

"Yes," said Fred, "old age."

"We are all part of a vanishing breed of East Africans in the diaspora. Larry's passing has shocked everyone who knew him. RIP."

Dr Google, quietly piped in, always wanting the last word: "This is not the beginning of another episode of depression I hope!!!!"

"I hope not too."

Here's a note I got the other day:

Jimmy sat down in usual chair at the club with his usual pint of beer but he was not his usual self. Understandable because last week he buried Eleanor, his wife of 55 years. He said he was not coping and head was going round and round like the rotor blades of a helicopter. 

Alan asked him the obvious question: Have you seen a doctor about it?

"Yea," said Jimmy, "they want to fill my gut full of pills and other drugs. I don't need that. I just need to be around people."

Alan: "I think we can help with that. I send an email around to all our people and see who would like to take part in a project called: Caring for Jimmy. I will also speak our friend Dr Badhay (retired) who has had a lot of experience in their area. However, I will see you later this evening Jimmy and by the morning we should start some sort of a routine. A few of us will go round the club and see how many volunteers we can drum up."

Inside of a couple of minutes, 20 couples had put their hand up, some of them starting the next day. Jimmy could not hold the tears back. No problem because they were tears of job because so many people cared.

They gave him some warm pats on the back and told him to cheer up. 

Alan promised to keep everyone posted.

I will let you know more when I hear from Alan.

Well, well. 

Social Services are taking care of his home-care needs, as well as providing him with community support transport. They will clean the house once a week. A whole bunch of people have offered to pick Jimmy up and take him out. A roster is being made.

Another thing, Peter the Real Estate Agent is looking at renovating a couple of rooms and letting them out to suitable uni students. Jimmy liked the idea very much. Peter reckons with proper research he might be able to find the right person.

Oh, Father Mike Denton will give him all the support he can.

How wonderful to see so many people going out of their way to help a dear friend without worrying how much it is going to cost them. Good deeds are not always meant to make money.


Saturday, October 26, 2019


Divine Retreat Centre

AT FIRST glance faint-hearted Catholics, even the recalcitrant amongst might look up the Divine Retreat Centre in Somersby NSW, not too far from the Central Coast’s beach haven but inland into the grace and glory of the woodlands. Sixty-five rolling acres in the quiet of the countryside provide a serene setting for the Retreat Centre and this serenity is quickly felt all around you.

I am by no means a Catholic fundamentalist or a breast-beating devout follower of the religion. I am however your everyday regular church-going believer in the Catholic religion. I am a cynic when it comes to Catholic circuses, Bible bashing or breast beating.

The Goan Association of New South Wales was kind enough to invite its membership to the Divine Retreat Centre for a service honoring it current membership and remembering past members. Some 35 souls, some of them very experienced participants at the DVC, a few newcomers and a few who had been there before.

As I am a Trustee of the association, I may appear a bit biased … I try not to be.

In Australia, at least, we have the freedom to be what we want to be. Similarly, with Catholicism we have the freedom to take what we want from the various services on offer. Yes, there was a hint of the American Bible bashing at huge tented ministries, such Praise Be God, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, closing of eyes in meditation … but it was not overwhelming to cause anyone any concern. There will always be skeptics, anyway.


Here are some of the folks we remembered and prayed for at the Mass:
Anthony Azavedo, Joe Gonsalves, George and Irene D’Souza, Ancet Fernandes (who passed away recently), Kate D’Souza, Rita Gonsalves, George and Sheila Pereira, Maud Soames, Hilda Thomas, Dr Joseph Vaz, Millie Mendonca, Dr Pat D’Souza, Tony Coutinho, John Mascarenhas, George Peres da Costa, Veronic D’Cruz, Freddie Mascarenhas, Rufina Fernandes, Bridget Rose Fernandes, Franco Pereira, Richard Gonsalves, Ben Almeida, Mary Pereira, Joe Fernandes, George and Cynthia Fernandes, Lucy Machado, Bulena Pereira, Tony Pereira, Baptist D’Sa, Keith Gomes, David Soares, Lourecinio Noronha, Mrs Beatrice Nazareth, Mr Athaide and Joan Athaide, Mrs D'Souza.

There used to be a book with names of all the members who had passed on. Unfortunately, this book is missing. If you would like to include a name or two, please send them to me at

I think the GOA is to be congratulated for this effort.

My own personal take came from Fr Roni George, a happy-go-Catholic in his homily: Don’t think that that escape from a potentially serious car accident, or lucky escape from a serious disease, or some other catastrophe you have avoided … just simply happens. If you connect with God, you will come to learn pretty quickly how he helps in so many ways. As I said, to a non-believer this might be garbage but to a Catholic who can connect, it is all about believing. You don’t have to be holy or saintly to believe. Just do it, if you want to.

Left to right.
Rosy Andrade, Agnelo Andrade, Sancia Flor Gracias(hidden), Shalini Almeida, Henrietta D'Sa, Jennifer Pereira, ____, Lionel Lawrence, Marietta D'Silva, Nelita Fernandes, Ralph Vaz, Manuel Fernandes, Sabrina Lawrence, _______, Mona Dias, Abel Do Rosario, Mabel Pereira, Thecla Fernadez, ______, Olivia Vaz, Lata Britto, Onita Saldanha, Alwyn Henriques, Audrey Henriques.

The Divine Mercy Chaplet

Fr Roni George with some of the Sydney folks

Another view of the Divine Mercy Chalet

The Service

Some of the facilities on site for three-day retreats

Friday, October 25, 2019

Fitz De Souza in the Communist Review

With kind permission of the Communist Review

Forward to Independence: My Memoirs
By Fitz de Souza [Independently published, 2019, available on pbk, 338 pp, ISBN 978- 1-0931-46882, £9.80; Kindle edition, 436 pp, ASIN B07R6FNYF1, £2.30.]
Review by Cyprian Fernandes
THE LONG, long-awaited memoirs of veteran Kenyan politician Fitz de Souza are finally out and the book is quite brilliant. Born into a family of Goan migrants, this former lawyer and deputy speaker of the Kenya Parliament – a rather quiet man in the sometimes loud circus of politics – was Jomo Kenyatta’s right-hand man from the first days of the negotiations for freedom with the British Government, until Kenya’s independence on 12 December 1963, and for the rest of Kenyatta’s life. The President of Kenya paid great heed to the legal, political, social and societal deliberation provided by Fitz de Souza. Not only Kenyatta, but politicians of every ilk sought out his wisdom.

Like his mentor Pio Gama Pinto, Fitz worked better behind the scenes but he was not afraid to speak his mind at international conferences or at local political rallies. His accounts of his ancestors, his own path taken in schooling and finding his calling to law are all filled with charm, laughter and very special resolve. However, it is Fitz’s fly-on-the-wall, eyewitness revelations that serve history best. The colonial propaganda machine had been frighteningly successful in demonising Kenyatta and the Mau Mau2 .

In his memoir, Fitz once and for all smashes this character assassination. He writes: “Kenyatta would tell me many times, ‘Fitz, I am not the leader of Mau Mau, I do not believe in violence. I believe you can achieve your goals without violence. But in any political party there are always some who believe you have to go further, you have to fight, and I know who they are – they are my friends, they are in this party, they are with us all the time. But I am not going to do the job for the British Government and expose them and fight against them.”

When asked by the British to condemn those who practised violence, Kenyatta would do so, but only in general terms, never naming names: “‘The British would like us [Africans] to fight with each other and make this into a semi-civil war; they killing our supporters and we killing their supporters, and I am not going to allow that at all. I know what I want and they know what they want, our objectives are the same ….’” It seemed then that the only disagreement between Kenyatta and those who supported the Mau Mau was the means to those objectives: “‘They think I am too mild, and I think they are picking on something that is not necessary and creating too much pain and suffering.’”
 Fitz reveals for the first time how the land settler fund was established by the British Government to buy out white farmers who were leaving Kenya after independence: “As the discussions at 1962 Lancaster House Constitutional Conference wore on, it was clear that a major remaining stumbling block was the European settler community. The British Government told us plainly: the only way they could give us independence was if we could promise the farmers that we would pay them for their land, buy them out in other words. They had calculated the value of £36 million. That sounds like nothing today but was a fortune in 1962. I said, but we don’t have the money. No, they said, we’ll give you the money. Good God, I said, we could never afford to pay it back. They said, who’s asking for it back? We don’t want it back, we want to give it to you, and every year we’ll write a bit off until the whole lot is written off. We don’t want the British here to say we called you Mau Mau, and now we’re giving you money! You must buy the land from the European farmers on a ‘willing buyer and willing seller’ basis. So when they are willing to sell, you buy.”

Thus would come into being the Land Settlement Board, under Chairman Norman Feather of the Standard Bank, with the British Consular General and Moi 3 , appointed to the post by Kenyatta, as committee members.

Fitz deftly tries to explain why Kenyatta was so adamant that the Kikuyu should be among the first to share in the spoils of Uhuru: “Kenyatta had recognised the very strong loyalties that lay beneath the surface of Kenyan politics a long time ago, and in his view, the country had to be ruled by a coalition of tribes, under whatever collective party name. He felt that through this process the Kikuyu would dominate, and would say as much in political meetings, his rhetoric along the lines that if you have fought for the independence of Kenya, you have planted a tree and watered it with your blood, so who should receive the fruits of that tree? As expected, the answer would come: ‘He who fought for them.’ And if you slaughtered a cow for a feast, which person should have the best parts? ‘He who slaughtered the cow.’ Very many people agreed. Having worked so hard for freedom, been imprisoned for nine years and given decades of his life to his nation’s struggle, Kenyatta felt it was his right to have the best. Few could question his industry and commitment, and without him, it was unlikely the national movement would have taken off. So many Africans had emerged from detention with nothing, having lost businesses, property, social position and support. It was only to be expected that they would endorse Kenyatta and seek something for themselves now.”

Fitz often found himself, sometimes unwittingly, slap-bang in the middle of various conspiracies, both good and bad. Kenyans may not know this, but once upon a time, Charles Njonjo 4 touted Tom Mboya5 for President. Here is Fitz’s eye-witness account. “What Tom saw in Charles Njonjo was an opportunity … he realised that Charles’s bearing, outward intelligence and ability to express himself could be used for political gain. He also assumed that Charles had no ambitions. When Charles called me to have tea with him one day at the Queen’s Hotel (in Nairobi), I arrived to find Tom there also. ‘Fitz, I have something very serious to say to you,’ announced Charles. ‘Tell your friend not to back that old man as President of Kenya.’ By ‘my friend’ I knew he meant Pio, and the ‘old man’ was Kenyatta. ‘Why?’ I asked. ‘Because,’ replied Charles in his lordly tone, ‘he is totally incompetent, he’s senile.’ ‘But who could you put in his place?’ ‘He’s sitting right here, Tom is the man.’

Exactly who had first latched onto whom was hard to say, but both men had now shown their hand, to me at least. Charles clearly saw Tom as likely to be the next leader of the country, and perhaps a place for himself in a future Government. Charles’s use of the word ‘President’ was not accidental. Kenyatta had spoken to me about how he saw leadership. He believed strongly that just as you could not have two chiefs in one household, a country could not have two leaders.
On the 1st of June 1964 he amended the constitution, and on the 12th of December, one year after independence, Kenya was declared a republic, with the office of Prime Minister replaced by that of President, a position Kenyatta automatically assumed, making him Head of State, Head of the Government and Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces. [Oginga] Odinga was appointed Vice-President. One of the senior figures in the rival KADU party, Moi, whose fellow Kalenjins occupied much of the prime Rift Valley land, was promoted to Minister for Home Affairs. At the same time, KADU was dissolved and merged with KANU. There was now no clear official opposition.”

Thanks to Fitz’s memoirs, we can now read exactly what happened on that fateful day in February 1965 when Pio Gama Pinto clashed with Kenyatta in the corridors of Parliament House, Nairobi. Fitz writes: “It was on an afternoon in February, as I was taking a break for tea outside the Parliament building, that I heard someone calling my name. ‘Mr de Souza, come quickly please!’ Turning around I saw that a few tables away an altercation had broken out between Pio and Kenyatta. Both men were gesticulating and swearing, and as their voices rose, everyone on the veranda could hear. Tom was standing nearby, now joined by several onlookers. Pio, his face contorted with anger was shouting, ‘I’ll fix you!’ Kenyatta, equally incensed, was shouting back at him. I knew immediately what they were arguing about: the English farms, which Pio claimed Kenyatta was grabbing. Running up behind Pio, I put both my arms around him, trying to restrain him and calm him down. When Kenyatta had gone, we sat down. I warned him not to shout at Kenyatta again, as Kikuyus rarely forgive someone who becomes their enemy. ‘In the eyes of most Africans,’ I said, ‘you are just a Muhindi, you are perfectly dispensable, but he is not.’ I reminded him how at almost every meeting Kenyatta would ask the same rhetorical question: if a man plants a tree, who has the right to claim the fruit of that tree when it has grown? Ask any African, I told him, and they will say that Kenyatta has been very little compensated for the sacrifices and hardship he has endured in the struggle for independence. ‘If it comes to the push,’ I said, ‘there’ll be two shots fired at you and no one will remember you in a year’s time.’ Pio shook his head, ‘No, no, there would be a bloodbath.’ I said, ‘Pio, you are overestimating your position; maybe if you were a Kikuyu or a Luo, then yes, there would be a backlash, but you’ve nobody to support you; like me, you’ve no support in the Indian community and none outside it.’”

Fitz knew Pio’s life was in danger because Tom Mboya told him so. He writes: “One night, Tom took me aside and mentioned again the concern on his side, and how Pio was increasingly seen as trouble, a left-wing firebrand out to oust Kenyatta. ‘Once certain people realise that the possibility of Odinga succeeding Kenyatta is due to this one man,’ he said, ‘and that when the time comes, he can provide the necessary organisation to pull it off, then those same people will want to get rid of him. Take Pinto out, and the whole thing collapses like a pack of cards.’ I wondered what exactly he meant by ‘take out.’ I said, ‘Tom, Pinto is a good organiser yes, but it really wouldn’t be as easy as that.’ I asked, ‘If it came to it, would you take any part in getting rid of him, whatever that means?’ Tom said no, but there were people who would. He then told me earnestly to speak to Pio and to warn him that his life was in danger.”

According to Fitz it was the Luo leader Oginga Odinga who picked up Pio and drove him to Mombasa. A few days later Joe Murumbi turned up at the house where Pio was staying. Joe was very, very confident that no harm would come to Pio because he would speak to Jomo Kenyatta. Fitz writes: “Pio took Joe’s advice and returned to Nairobi on the train. Pio arrived back home in Nairobi in the morning. That evening, JD Kali’s driver, a Kikuyu called Ndegwa, stopped by the house. Ndegwa was also with the Special Branch and drove Kenyatta too. He asked if Pio had returned. Someone told him, yes, and he drove off. Also. in the house at the time was a very close friend of Pio, an African called Cheche, who had been with him in detention. Cheche acted as Pio’s bodyguard, and it was said he would die for him. When Pio was told about the caller, he said he knew who Ndegwa was and that he was trying to organise to kill him.

Perhaps the visit was a warning. If so, it did not deter Pio and he was soon busily compiling a list of farms and land which in his view had been stolen from the African people by the Government. … The expectation was for there to be an explosive result: a vote of no confidence against Kenyatta. I reminded Pio of Kenyatta’s strength, of the sacrifices and struggles he had made and his firm belief that the fruits of independence should be his. I said, ‘Pio, I think you have a lot of good things to say, but however much you say them, Kenyatta is not going to give up power or go away. He is a very courageous man and would fight to the death to stay leader if he had to. So don’t try to attack him morally and not expect to get on his bad side, you are just wasting your time, it is not possible to remove him.’” Pio was actually preparing the ground for the enactment by Parliament of a type of African socialism, the removal of Kenyatta and the coronation of his sworn enemy Oginga Odinga. It was never going to happen because Pio would be killed by the assassin’s bullet: “On the 25th of February [1965], I was in court in the middle of a case when one of my articled clerks came in looking for me. ‘What are you doing here?’ I asked him. ‘Mr de Souza,’ he whispered, ‘I am very sorry to tell you that your friend is dead.’ I knew immediately that he meant Pio. The English judge, a good friend, looked across the courtroom at me. I stood up and cleared my throat: ‘I am very sorry, but due to an unfortunate occurrence, I have to leave. The judge said, ‘I can see you are shocked. Is this about your friend Pio Pinto?’ I nodded. He said, ‘This court is adjourned.’ I went straight to Pio’s house. Two police officers were there, the gate was closed and the car was in the driveway. Pio was inside, his body leaning to one side as if asleep at the wheel. Looking at him I suddenly thought, he’s all right after all, and reaching in, touched his shoulder, saying, ‘Pio, Pio.’ Then I saw the bullet hole. It was true; Pio was dead. That night I cried and cried. I felt really shattered. Pio had been just 38 years old, but had done so much for the country, spent seven years on Manda Island, not even allowed to see his dying father. All he had ever wanted was justice and fairness for all. He did not deserve this fate. Pio’s bodyguard Cheche came to see me later, crying, ‘Our friend is dead, our friend is dead.’ Through my day-to-day legal work, I had got to know one of the Nairobi CID officers, an Englishman. It wasn’t long before he and I had a lead. A taxi driver described some men with guns being taken recently in specially hired Fiat cars to South C where it was said, they were to ‘fix’ some trade union people. Could they also have been sent to fix Pio? The taxi driver took the CID officer and I around the streets and within a short time had identified a young African man in a red shirt. After being placed under arrest, the 22-year-old, Kisilu Mutua, admitted to shooting Pio. My mind was full of questions.

On the day Pio was killed, the end of Lower Kabete Road had been blocked off and the traffic stopped. And why, when he was found in the car, obviously preparing to leave as usual that morning, was the gate to his driveway closed? Pio was a good runner, faster than the Maasai even, at one time predicted to run for Kenya in the Olympics. If he had got out of the car, no one would have caught him. The roadblock and the closed gate had been no coincidence. I began asking around and challenging people to find the person or persons responsible. My father was worried. ‘Fitz you must be careful,’ he urged me, ‘they might want to shoot you too.’ I said, ‘Look I’ve known Kenyatta for years, been his lawyer and helped him.’ My father replied, ‘People can forget things.’ I could not, in any case, believe that Kenyatta would have wanted Pio dead.

About two weeks had gone by when, walking on the street past the Standard Bank in Nairobi one day, I heard someone behind me. I looked around and saw Bruce McKenzie6 hurrying to catch up with me. His manner was friendly, chatting about general things, but I sensed something more, something he wanted to say. Bruce was a big man, with a strong handshake that overpowered you, and I felt that strength in him now. ‘Fitz,’ he said, ‘I like you very much, you’re a good friend.’ I said, ‘Bruce, have you been sent to talk to me about Pio.’ He nodded. I said, ‘To warn me, that if I carry on asking questions, the same is going happen to me?’ Bruce said yes, this was the message he had been asked to give me. Then Mungai 7 came to see me. He was a mysterious figure, some hinted he had been a Mau Mau leader, others a Government spy. Telling me that I was now on a ‘wanted list’, he reached in his pocket and took out a pistol, complete with licence, advising me to keep it for protection. I had been under threat before when Pio had been arrested and I had driven across the border to Uganda. The concern then was possible imprisonment. This was different. Pio was gone, and Bruce had come to tell me, on whose authority I did not know, that I could be next. Mungai had confirmed it. I had seen Pio’s limp body carried from his car, the small hole in his body where the bullet had entered, witnessed [his wife] Emma’s shock and grief. As the reality of the danger I was in hit me, I became very nervous. I took some valium, and not knowing what else to do booked into the Hilton Hotel. Nowhere in Nairobi was completely safe, but here at least there were people around, I could stay behind a locked door. How long for though?
I would have to come out sometime. I thought carefully. I was getting married in a few months. Now there were not just my parents, my brother and sister and myself to think of, but also my future wife Romola – our future lives together and in time, probably a family of our own. 

After a few days, I let it be known that I was no longer pursuing my inquiries, checked out of the hotel and went home. I hid Mungai’s pistol in a strongbox behind a loose brick in the wall and kept the key in my pocket. Still anxious and in shock, I decided to go to England and from there, seeking a complete change of scene, take a trip to Scandinavia. At that time permission was needed to take money out of the country, so I rang Kenyatta to ask if it could be arranged. Yes, yes, he said, and gave me the name of someone who could help. Talking to Kenyatta, he was clearly very distressed and crying over the phone. When I broached the question of who might be responsible he said, ‘Do you think I could possibly have murdered my own friend?’ and said he had been equally shocked by what had happened.

A couple of weeks later I returned for Pio’s funeral. The mourners were mostly Africans and church people. Kenyatta, who was not expected to attend, sent an ivory carving in tribute. Joe Murumbi was full of remorse, blaming himself for persuading Pio to leave the beach house at Mombasa and come back to Nairobi that day. While Pio’s alleged killer languished behind bars, sentenced to 30 years’ imprisonment, there were whispered rumours that the ‘powers that be’ had organised the assassination, or the Kiambu Mafia, 8 CIA or foreign governments, and the riddle remained unanswered.”

Before now, not many people knew of Fitz’s attempts to save Pio Gama Pinto or that even Fitz’s life was threatened. All this and more, Fitz kept to himself. The deaths first of Pio and then later of Tom Mboya and JM Kariuki 9 destroyed Fitz as a politician and he quietly resigned from politics and focused on his law firm, business and other interests.

Notes and References 
1 See review by C Fernandes of Pio Gama Pinto, Kenya’s Unsung Martyr 1927- 1965, in CR90, Winter 2018/2019, pp 23-26.
2 See S Durrani, Mau Mau, The Revolutionary Force from from Kenya: Part 1 in CR67, Spring 2013, pp 2-8; Part 2 in CR68, Summer 2013, pp 10-15; Part 3 in CR69, Autumn 2013, pp 8-13.
3 Daniel Arap Moi (b 1924) was Kenyan president from the death of Jomo Kenyatta in 1978 until 2002. An important theme of his government was anti-communism. The Kenya African National Union was made the only legally permitted party, and many of those campaigning for democracy were subjected to repression, including torture. For further background, see S Durrani, Kenya Resists: Artists Challenge the Hawk in the Sky, in CR91, Spring 2019, pp 15-19.
4 Charles Njonjo (b 1920) was the son of a paramount chief who was one of the foremost collaborators with British rule in India. With this background, Charles’s upbringing was very pampered. He trained as a lawyer and then worked diligently for the colonial government as it went about atrocities in opposing the Mau Mau freedom fighters. He became Attorney General in independent Kenya and actively thwarted attempts by former freedom fighters for justice. He was a proponent of ties with white Rhodesia, apartheid South Africa and Portuguese Mozambique. He became Minister of Justice from 1978 but was forced to resign in the wake of the unsuccessful 1982 coup against then president Daniel Arap Moi.
5 Tom Mboya (1930-1969) was a trade unionist, educationalist, Pan-Africanist and independence activist, and held several key ministerial posts in independent Kenya. That he was seen as a possible contender for the presidency may have been the cause of his assassination.
6 Bruce McKenzie (1919-1978) was a South African-born Kenyan politician. He was Minister of Agriculture under Kenyatta, and is alleged to have been a British, South African or Israeli intelligence agent. He was involved in the kidnapping from Uganda of 5 alleged terrorists wanted by Israel, and in return was assassinated by Ugandan agents.
7 Njoroge Mungai (1926-2014) was a doctor, businessman and first cousin to Jomo Kenyatta. He held the offices of Minister of Health, Defence and Foreign Affairs, and successfully lobbied the Organisation of African Unity to supply arms to freedom fighters in apartheid South Africa and Portuguese Mozambique.
8 ‘Kiambu Mafia’ was the term used to describe a small group of people from the then Kiambu District of Kenya, who had benefited financially and politically from parcels of land ‘awarded’ or ‘sold’ to them by the Kenyatta government.
9 See Durrani, Kenya Resists, op cit.

Monday, October 21, 2019

Devotion... Life in Australia

Every time Australia has a major migration change it also results in a lot of consternation, even abuse of the migrants.  After all, the first, reluctant migrants, the British convicts were not treated with any kind of special welcome either. The end of WW11 brought a lot of Jews, Italians, Poles, and other Europeans ... who were very kindly abused as the Wogs and Dagos. So it is a tradition to shower abuse on new immigrants especially since they don't know what it is to be "Australian" and not familiar with driving according to the local laws. In the case of Indians, most of them drive as if they were driving in India and that causes all hell to burst loose. With the new young sub-continentals there is also a new arrogance that does not endear them to the locals, not even to Indians who have been here for more than 30, 40 or 50 years ... they will all come good in a few years. It was easier for people who lived in the UK, Canada, US, Europe to quite easily make themselves at home in Australia, even folks who lived in East Africa did not have much difficulty.

ONE hundred yards heading east from my house you come to Jones Street. Turn left and you are heading into the Pendle Hill shopping centre. Once upon a time, it was a charming English village kind of place. There was a fresh flower shop, a couple of bread shops: everything baked on site. There were also a hardware shop (Rob, a competitive petrol head, was always good for a chat, he had his ear to the ground and picked up a lot of goss from his customers), an Italian eat-in or take-away (Marcelino (aka Marco) was a delightful man who rockets into a crescendo of an Italian song at any surprising minute), Woolworth's food supermarket, the Maltese laundry owners (forget the names) were always welcoming and she was blessed with a special caring smile), there were the newsagents (James and Patty were the souls of any local party they attended, loved them), there were a fish and chip shop, two fruit and vegetable stores, and a host of others. Today, the olde worlde charm has been swept aside by new immigrants, refugees, asylum seekers, illegal immigrants, all or most of these were desperate boat people. Today there are 12 Sri Lankan restaurants or take-aways, a Korean newsagent, a Chinese laundry, a couple Sri Lankan coffee shops, Sri Lankan jewellery sales and pawnshops, a couple of fruit and vegy stores (one Sri Lankan, their other Arab), Woolies is still there, there two medical centres, and a Chinese restaurant. Needless to say, time and change has taken its toll and while I have no problem with change, somehow these changes continue to sadden me. Nonetheless, life must go on ... there is always the metropolises of Parramatta and Sydney city to escape to if the air in my village gets too pungent. Walk down any street in the suburbs of Pendle Hill, Wentworthville, Toongabbie and the air thick with curry flavours. In Pendle Hill it is mainly Sri Lankan, Wentworthville very Punjabi and Toongabbie appears to have a mixture of aromas, sometimes the pungency of Sri Lankan cuisine appears to waft above the others. I used to love the potato bonda at one of the shops but they have since changed chefs, otherwise everything this very, very spicey, hot, pungent and they supply green chillies with most dishes.

By the way, one of the my ex-Kenya friends is a big fan of the Sri Lankan cuisine. He particularly likes the crisp fried fish bait dish ... he says the normal servings of rice and the curries are huge.

The Chinese restaurant also does a great salt and pepper flounder, crisp on the edges, great with plain rice!

There is a saving grace: An Indian restaurant which provides some relief from the Sri Lankan hot dishes ... Now some of you might churn your stomachs, but one of the Sri Lankan shops does a quite mouth watering fish head curry ... close to what my mum used to make, at least one of the versions.

One great addition is the fresh fish shop. We had one before but the Sri Lankan replacement is far superior. Fresh, fresh fish, crabs, lobsters, prawns, prawns, prawns, are common as anything in Sydney. They clean the fish and all you have to do is cook them. Love this shop

There are also two Asian bakeries. I like the Vietnamese one. They have a history of French patisseries. Every Saturday morning queues form for bread rolls for the sausage and bacon barbecue stalls at the footy or cricket in season. I get mine out of the oven, warm, butter melting.

Life's good.

The genteel peace and quiet of Pendle Hill have been replaced by thing quite boisterous!

I expect there is much to celebrate ...among that, here is something I have been admiring for about three years. An old man who lives with his children (one of those imported babysitters who about in Sydney) has replaced the lost grass, stalk by stalk from the more healthier growth on the public kerb of his home. Normally, the simple, Aussie way would have been to go to the plant shop and pick up a yard or two of the turf and replace the barren patch. I asked him why once. He told me in broken English: "Does not matter. It gives me something to do instead of watching TV all the time or doing something else while the children are sleeping. I also like doing this. It is a long, slow job and as long as I have the strength, I will do it."

He has since started on another barren patch. A street away, another senior citizen is down on his knees singling out the lone weeds.

We arrived in Sydney in 1979 (this is out 40th year), lived close to the City for four years and moved West because Rufy got a job at the hospital. We made the Church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel are parish as opposed to the other nearby churches. Like everything Catholic, it is a church in transition. The key ailment of the Catholic Church today is a complete lack of priests. The Carmelites are attempting to breed their own private flock of priests in East Timor and one of these has already served his apprenticeship and is now ensconced as the Parish Priest. Martinho D'Costa is a delightful man blessed with a very happy ordinary guy kind of smile and outlook. He is indeed a blessed and happy man. Actually, successive priests have all been pretty good kind of guys. There was Laurie who was something of laugh a minute, Paul who planted a rose garden and was also able to attract outsiders into the Parish especially his own Papua New Guinea residents in Sydney as well as others. There is John who is a happy kind of bloke with a story for every occasion and homily. He is an Australian storyteller forever. I have written about Denis who was a long and middle distance runner and now does some running but also walks long distances. There is father Anthony, of course, who in another life might have been a theologian but is the man who opened several Carmelites mission all over Africa especially in Kenya and still speaks a smattering of Swahili words.

Guided by our brilliant organist, Lucia (I think that is her name), our choir is mainly young Indians. A couple of brilliant voices and one or two outstanding instrumentalists, they really do combine well with the seniors in the choir and bless the services with music and song that balms the praying souls. Love em. We also have a youth group and they are pretty active ...

Yep, I was talking about lack of priests. The first casualty the goss tells me is that we might lose one of the four masses on a Sunday ...7, 9:30, 10:30 and 6 pm, the money is on the 7 am being bunkered for good. Sad really.

Still, it continues to be a pretty good life. The East Africans who once made the Goan Overseas Association such a replica of their social lives in Eastern Africa, are now a part of the diaspora vanishing breed. At any given GOA function there are not more than 10 of the old members. In any case, age is wearing them because like in London and elsewhere not many have the energy to dance or even to get to the venue. 

There was a time when a  posse of young people who would ferry seniors to functions, especially the St Francis Xavier's do.

Like I have been saying, it is a vanishing tribe and in a decade or two there may not be any of us left anywhere in the world. Sad day when that happens. 

For the past two years, the "new" Goans have done a tremendous job in improving the quality of the socials especially with the introductions of Konkani singing and bits of tiatr. Also interesting as been the contributions of the young people, especially the Konkani language classes.

Last year the St Francis Xavier feast day lunch for seniors was quite an occasion and I think folks are looking forward to this year's function with great apprehension or promise.

Even with the exit of the East Africans, there is plenty to be proud of. My own favourite is the whist and bingo lunch on a Sunday. It continues to grow.

There are a lot of truly dedicated people. Sometimes life can hell for them and the unkindest cuts (thoroughly undeserved) come from many directions as is the want of the Goan community around the world. Yet, they persevere. I salute them.

I must declare my own interest: I am one of five Trustees of the GOA.

All this may sound a bit gloomy ... please ignore. The weather is heading for sunny. At the moment and later in autumn it will be perfect... in summer it will be pretty hot but there is always airconditioning courtesy of solar panelling.

Sydney and Australia's coastal areas are generally little heavens on earth and it is a real pleasure to live here.

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Alberto De Souza, My Father

My wife Monnelia and I decided to have a 5 year memorial for my Dad at The Goan Gymkhana as it would be a good opportunity to hang his portrait by the artist Prakash in the Bar alongside many of his friends and to celebrate his memory and life.

"I would like to thank everyone for coming to my father's 5yr memorial lunch"

"My father was a patriotic Goan from Saligao who loved meeting his friends to chat and drink at The Goan Gymkhana"

"Therefore it is appropriate that we hang his portrait in the bar alongside many of his friends (Alu, Pius, Tony)"

"Throughout his life, my father was a kind, happy man who never hesitated to assist those who needed his help"

"He instilled strong values in my sister Alison and I, that have stood us in good stead as we navigate through life's many trials"

"More importantly he always encouraged us as children to aim high, achieve academic success so that we could achieve more than he had the opportunity to in colonial Kenya"

"On this memorial lunch, I would like us all to remember a man with a strong moral compass, who cared deeply about his family and friends and who could entertain others with conversations in Konkani filled with laughter."

"I owe all my success to the efforts of my father, and would like him to know that I miss him deeply every day."

"I would now like to hang his portrait in the Bar. After this, if we would toast his life and Father Saldanha will say a memorial prayer.  Lunch will then be served."

Keith De Souza

Father Saldanha saying memorial prayer.  Prakash the artist who has done all the Bar portraits.

Clara De Cruz, Noelle Sequeira, Fernanda Da Gama Rose, Fr. Saldanha

Add captionVincent Sequeira, Manu & Clara De Cruz, Mickey Singh, Noelle Sequeira, Fernanda De Gama Rose, Father Saldanha.

Cheryl. Keith De Souza,  Cristo, Sylvia, Valente De Souza, Prakash.

Apologies about the caption ... I recognise Freda and my old friend Tyrone.

Sleep in heavenly peace, Alberto, you were a great guy on earth, fondly remembered by your friends at the RI, GI, the Goan Gymkhana and all around East Africa --Cyprian

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Roy's Pacheco's life safari


Roy Pacheco

Our parents, who migrated to East Africa, dreamed of one day retiring to Goa.  I, and many of my contemporaries, banished to Canada by the Ugandan tyrant, General Idi Amin, still yearn for the days of our carefree early life in Africa. Luck and destiny (and I suppose a general ingrained belief that God would take care of the details) helped to shape our lives.
After finishing School in Nairobi, I was lucky to find a job as an apprentice to a major air-conditioning company in Nairobi, Kenya. The European manager had a special liking for the hard-working Goan community. As an apprentice, I got to do all the grungy jobs required in disassembling, fixing and handing over a fully functioning unit. We took great pride in our work. Our management always preached that a satisfied customer would bring in our next project. And so I worked hard, learned a lot and eventually became a fully-fledged Engineer. I would now travel as a trouble-shooter to the various branches of our company all over East Africa (comprising Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania).
In the early sixties, the three countries had become independent from their colonial rulers. Many Goans stayed behind to work. There were new opportunities opening up. In 1965, I was transferred to Kampala, the Uganda capital. One day we got a call from the fish-processing plant TUFMAC in the village of Kasese, in Uganda, located right in the center of Queen Elizabeth National Park, on Lake George. Kasese is approximately 345 kilometers (214 miles) by road west from Kampala. It is almost on the border of Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
Tony, my Engineer was a Lebanese and I served as his apprentice. As such, my job was to look after every other aspect of the project (and sometimes after Tony). After loading up the service car, we set out for the first stop on our safari -- a town called Fort Portal located west of Kampala. 
The roads alternated between awful and non-existent. We almost rolled the car coming down a hill!  After passing Fort Portal, we headed south to the Kasese area and Bauman Village, so called because the fish-processing company by that name employed the whole population. We arrived about 5:30 p.m. and the first thing we looked for was a place where we could get something to eat. Apparently, the local shop was closed, forcing us to drive another 20 miles to a Greek-owned shop close to Uganda/Congo border on the road leading into the Ruwenzori Mountains. After picking up a few basics--milk, bread, butter and a can of Corned beef--we returned to the village.
I was ravenous and hoping to eat before starting work. Tony however decided to take a look at the broken-down machine first. So, I grabbed the toolbox and we made our way towards the crippled freezer unit. 
 I had never seen anything this colossal in my life. (It was a Jackston-Froster freezing system), and I was beginning to doubt our abilities to fix this monster. However, Tony was already at work. He pulled out a whole bunch of wires, and started to replace them one by one -- and this without the benefit of a wiring diagram. It must have been fifteen minutes before he stood up and smacked his lips and asked me to throw the main switch.
I went over hesitantly, instinctively made the sign of the cross, and did so, putting both hands over my ears, expecting a big bang! Nothing happened! The system was on a timer, which eventually clicked on. I soon heard a whine here and then there, and soon, everything started to hum smoothly like a Mercedes Benz engine.
  He winked at me with a smile on his face.
“Roy, go find the foreman. He may wish to announce that the workers can return to work in the morning.”
“Will do,” I replied and set off in the direction of the factory office. We returned to Tony sitting on a log, smoking a cigarette.
I was now very hungry and it was getting dark. We asked the foreman where we were to spend the night, and were directed to a whitewashed building with a thatched roof. I grabbed the ‘dinner’ still in its paper wrapping from the Greek store, now warm from the sun-heated car and l entered the shack. It had a tiny kitchen, and toilet with a flush system and two small bedrooms with a single bed in each. 
 It was still daylight, and then I saw these wild buffalo and a couple of elephants about 100 yards away. I must have looked nervous!  The foreman just said “Don’t worry, they are used to human beings, but one thing... if you hear funny noises at night, it is only the elephants scratching their backs on the thatched roof.’’
 After devouring our dinner, we turned in to sleep. 
 Man! When I turned off the light in my bedroom, was it pitch dark! The luminous dials on my watch were like spotlights!
At about 2:00 a.m. I heard screams coming from Tony’s room. He seemed to be very agitated; he was yelling that there is something in his room. I had warned him earlier that in case of an emergency, to just run for the car. The keys were in the ignition, but that he should come and get me first!  But that did not happen. I grabbed my pants and slid them over my shorts, slipped on my shoes and rushed to his room. I switched on the light and lo and behold, there was a bird fluttering around the overhead light. We both laughed about it. I opened the window gently let the bird out, and eventually we went back to sleep.
The next morning, after finishing off the remaining bread and butter, I couldn’t help bantering with Tony and asked him about his fear of a little bird. He told me he had a nightmare! As it happened, at that time Beirut was engulfed in a civil war--Christians vs. Muslims--and everybody carried a gun. Food was very scarce and any flying creature was a potential meal, with the result such things were a rarity, which is why a little bird scared Tony so much. I realized Tony was paying a price from the childhood trauma of growing up in a war zone - a nightmare from which he had still not recovered.
The next morning, we drove back to Kampala but this time, decided to take another route back because of the road conditions. We took the road via Mbarara and Masaka. 
 At about 2:30 p.m. we stopped by a duka (shop) run by an Indian to get some pop, bread and something to nibble on.  As I glanced around, I spotted a crucifix hanging on a wall. I asked the shopkeeper if he was a Goan.
“Yes.” he said.
“So am I,” I responded. That got us both an invitation to lunch cooked by his wife, Soledad! They were very happy to see one of their own in their God-forsaken outpost. They talked nostalgically about one day returning to Goa and drinking Feni again. Out came the inevitable whiskey bottle, and soon it became obvious (even to us) we were not sober enough to drive! 
 So we were invited to use a spare bed to spend the night.
After a delicious breakfast of chapattis, kalchi kori , and a milky tea, we were on our way, and made it safely to Kampala.
As I write now, I realize how lucky I was to get these opportunities to hone my technical skills. More important, it has been such a rich experience to work with a range of people of diverse ethnic backgrounds and religions, cultures and traditions. I now feel the first gust of a chilly autumn breeze that heralds our harsh Canadian winter. Perhaps I won’t say no to a visit to Africa or Goa.

Please reply, if you wish you read more of my work experiences in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania. And the UK.
Many thanks!


  This invaluable collection of photos was sent to me by David Mungai. He says it is “for the acknowledgement of Kenyan History, the celebra...