Sunday, February 2, 2020

Goans of Goa, another view

The Goans of Goa
Professor Abdul Aziz Lodhi   

Allow me to add a note on Goans in Goa and East  Africa. I've been to Goa half a dozen times between 1991 & 2014. 

In Goa, Konkani speaking Christians, Hindus and Muslims are all Goans by definition. They speak community sub-dialects of Konkani which is originally a southern dialect of Marathi. The Catholic subdialect "Goanese" has much Latin & Portuguese influence, the Hindu sub-dialect resembles much Marathi, & the sub-dialect of the Muslims has Arabic & Persian influence which brings it closer to Hindi/Urdu (Hindustani).

In Zanzibar, the Konkani speaking Muslims are also called Kukni & they intermarry with other Muslims.

The ethnonym Goan was reserved by the British for the Catholic Indians (who included also a few families from North & South India + Sinhalese from Colombo. 

Many Kukni speak Swahili at home. During the 40s & 50s, the older generation of Muslims from Maharashtra & Goa spoke Konkani among themselves and also with the Catholic Goans most of whom had Goanese as their home language. (I've first-hand knowledge of this as we had Goan neighbours, schoolmates, friends, and experience as an Enumerator in the 1958 Census of Zanzibar when I worked in the Kajificheni & Sokomuhogo division of Zanzibar Stone Town in which there were many Goan families close to the Kanisa  Minara Miwili (Twin Tower Catholic Cathedral). 

My generation of Goans spoke English among themselves & English+Swahili with others.

At the State Archives in Panjim in Jan 1991, a middle-aged Catholic Goan researcher talked about "before the liberation of Goa" and "after the liberation of Goa" whereas his much younger assistant referred to the same as "before the occupation by India" and  "after the occupation by India". 

Many Catholic Goans were not happy with people from other parts of India settling in Goa, buying land, opening shops etc. In 2014, a few Catholic acquaintances expressed fear of BJP & Hindutva because of the fast increasing number of Hindus in their State.

Around the hotel in Panjim close to the Aga Khan Jamatkhana where I & my wife normally stay, the residents are of all the three communities - Hindus, Christians and Muslims, often living in the same building. However, there was one 3--storey building in which all the flats belonged to Bohra families as it was built by their jamaa. At the nearby Chapel, interesting public talks were delivered every week which were attended by followers of all religions. That is also one of a thousand & one beautiful faces of India!

Professor Abdul Aziz Lodhi is a linguist. He was Professor Emeritus at the Swedish Institute in Upsala and editor of the Nordic Journal of African Studies. 

1 comment:

  1. I appreciate the write-up of Prof. Abdul Aziz Lodhi, who made me see clearly some insights on the Goan Community in Goa. I was aware of Goan Hindus and Goan Muslims - the former I surmised from the mosques I saw in Panjim in a trip to the motherland in 1975; I did not know there were Goan Muslims in Zanzibar, and I have yet to meet a Goan Muslim.
    It is nice to see that all branches of the Goan Community live side by side and I hope this trend continues. Marriage between the various communities and religions will help their integration.
    Dr Malachy De Souza M.D.



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