Sunday, November 10, 2019

Renato: Kwaheri, mpaka tuta onana!

Renato Titus Monteiro
4 January 1936 – 2 November 2019
ON sunny but chilly Canberra Saturday family and friends remembered the good times with Renato, celebrated his humanity, his jokes, his loves of cowboy movies, raised a glass or two to a man much admired for his no-nonsense kind of life and, of course, the hardest man to play field hockey against.

Tony Reg D’Souza paid tribute to a man who was the eternal defender of the weak and defenceless both young children at school, at sport and later adults wherever he met them. Bullies scurried away from his mere presence.

Geoff Ahluwalia, who always walks into a room and lights it up with hearty laughter, reminded those who knew a little Swahili (and it introduced it those who did not know it) but singing Ray’s favourite Safari song and the church was filled with laughter and clapping. The priest who celebrated the farewell won’t forget it in a hurry because he mentioned Safari (journey) several times throughout the Mass.

It was a happy kind of farewell (if ever there is such a funeral) … most folks were happy for having known the charming, smiling, funny, humanitarian. Some of the folks who looked after him in the Canberra nursing home, could not stop the tears mixed with sobbing laughter running down their cheeks.

It was a good day to say Kwaheri (Goodbye). New memories were made.
Though their hearts were breaking, his widow Edna and sons Mark and Julian, the grandchildren and members of the extended family kept a brave smile, at the same time remembering the man they knew and loved.

Perhaps he had already settled to a slab of beer and a good cowboy movie in Heaven but if he took a minute to look down to earth, I guess he would have been happy that many had travelled from afar to celebrate his life, especially with their own personal memories.

As the Kenyan Goan tribe diminishes with each death all around the world, this fare brought the Aussie-Goans together and it was almost like one of those old East African Goan socials, for a man who loved the club life so much. CRF.


Renato was born in Nairobi, Kenya, attending the Dr Ribeiro Goan school. A keen sportsman, he represented the school in many sports at the highest level and played hockey in the first XI for the Goan Institute (G.I.) when that team was at the top of its form! He captained the G.I. team for many years and was the only player to be part of the winning teams in both 1952 and 1961.

Renato was also a key member of the Kenyan Goan hockey team who won all the major hockey tournaments in East Africa in one season, alongside other hockey greats including Alu Mendonca and Cajie Fernandes.

He loved the social club life in Kenya; this continued throughout his life with some great stories from his days in both Nairobi and Canberra to be told at another time. His working life began as a sales representative for Ahmed Brothers, a stylish gentlemen’s outfitters in the centre of Nairobi. He later trained as a butcher and worked in the family business in Hurlingham where his father (Caetano) owned the Petrol Service Station and meat supply business (Booths Butchery).

In difficult economic times, many Goans would receive free meat from Booths! He loved customer service and would end his professional career in Kenya in sales firstly for City Brewery and then Coca-Cola where he spent the last 15 years with many great friends. These included his good mate soccer legend Joe Kadenge and IOC representative Charles Mukora. Renato was well-loved by many in Kenya because he was passionate about multi-racial friendships. This was before the 1963 independence of Kenya when this was frowned upon by the existing British Government.

Renato had many friends from different communities around the country who were attracted to his charismatic personality and incredibly loyal friendship. These bonds remained strong with many friends across the world and who remain steadfast throughout his life. Always generous in spirit, Renato helped many Goans resettle after the Asian expulsion from Uganda by Idi Amin in 1972, and again in 1974 when Malawi expelled its Goan population. He opened his home in Hurlingham, Nairobi, to many Goan refugees, enabling them to transition through Nairobi before they settled in either Canada or the UK. These Goan families still remember the help their parents received in this transition at the most difficult time.

Renato moved to Australia in 1983 with his wife Edna and two sons Malcolm and Julian. He settled in Canberra where he remained for 37 years until his death. He was incredibly proud of his sons and of his four grandchildren, Gabriel, Eloise, Marcus and Luca, because he saw in them the family values that he embodied. He had looked after his parents well into their old age in both Kenya and Goa. The family was ultimately everything to him and he knew the grandkids understood what he was all about.


CRF: Ultimately as we continue to lose Kenya Goan wazee, it diminishes each one of us, just as we are diminished by the loss of a family member. We are one fewer. No one will replace that. With each deathly blow, death is brought is closer to home. As Norman Da Costa once asked me: Who will be left to write our eulogy? Such is life. I try to remember each one in celebration.

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