Sunday, June 21, 2020

GOANS:COURAGE OF THE EARLY PIONEERS

IF you are the children of the first pioneers of East Africa, is there any point in knowing the history of those first pioneers? If the answer is YES read on. Some of us on the fringe of the new generations of Goans wonder if there is a need to educate the younger generation of the Goan history outside of Goa. JERRY LOBO and I have been pondering a zoom session. However, the problem may that we are not able to find anyone who is still alive and who lived that history. A starting point is an excerpt below which is a clinical miniature history lesson by the outstanding LADIS DA SILVA who, with words, paints a majestic tapestry of the history of Goan’s first pioneers in East Africa. While Da  Silva focuses mainly on Zanzibar and Pemba, the story largely mirrors those experiences in other parts of Goan pioneers in Eastern Africa.

Would love to hear from you: skipfer@live.com.au


My father, Filipe Sebastiao De Souza, arrived in Kenya in 1928. Though early, he must have been the 3rd or fourth wave of Goans coming to East Africa. He first worked with Shell Company on the technical side and his work took him to the three East African countries(Kenya, Uganda and Tanganyika). He would recount, after a nice tot of whisky to help him along, his adventures in the bush. The roads were murram- if they existed at all. The car wheels had wooden spokes which would sometime break. They carried spare spokes to replace them and continue on their journeys. Sometimes the spokes ran out, and they would then look for suitable pieces of timber in the surrounding forests, which would then be fashioned as replacements. After a few years of having Nairobi as his base, he was transferred to Kampala and he continued with the same job. He finally learnt the craft of Watch-making and repairs and he opened a shop dealing with Roamer watches and repairs. He had the francise for Roamer watches in the whoe of East Africa and the Sudan.
Around 1958 there was the Kabaka Yeka party and other parties which were agitating for Independence. Among the means used was a boycott of the South Asian and European businesses.My father's business was badly hit as most of his customers were Africans and the Baganda. He rallied on for a couple of years but the damage had been done. He closed shop before going into bankruptcy and opened a smaller outfit in the Wandegeya suburb in Kampala.This served to barely sustain the family. In 1961 the whole family moved to Nairobi, and was to stay there until 1973 when he retired to Goa were he passed away at the end of that year. Malachy De Souza M.D.

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ZANZIBAR GOANS LADIS DA SILVA

TRY AS I MIGHT, I found it immensely difficult to trace the arrival of the first Goan in Zanzibar. The best I can recollect is when I was once invited by some sheikhs near Chukwani Palace, close to a Polytechnic School, and shown a grave by the seafront It had an Arab inscription on it and although age-old, it was in fair condition, even though some of the sides had fallen off with the rain and the storms. I was told by them that this belonged to the first Goan who arrived in Zanzibar more than 100 years prior. He had lived there, worked there and died there. Both Arabs and the natives were descendants of people who lived during his time and got the story from generation to generation. I cannot discount this story as I do know that Goans had come from the east coast of Africa long before any white man had done so. Evidence of this is there because of the trade between India and East Africa.

From historical records I have, I am prepared to state that Goans emigrated to East Africa some 125 years ago. Many Goans land in the port of Mombasa in Kenya earlier and were employed as civil servants in Kenya and Uganda. Kenya history tells you that the first district commissioner’s Chief Clerk was a Goan. The above facts are partially substantiated in the memories of Sir Arthur Hardinge, the Consul General in Zanzibar, who wrote: “A Goanese clerk was engaged in the Health Office in the year 1894.”

At this time, East Africa was under the government of the British Samaraj. This is one reason why Goans were given preferential treatment in the civil service. We are well aware of the fact that when in Bombay, Goa and Greater India, that had studied English and the three Rs, and were therefore well qualified to be civil servants under the British Raj. During this period Indian currency was used in East Africa. I vividly recall that was the currency during my time in the 1930s … rupees, annas, pice.

The judiciary, too, ran on the British system. They had Indians, Goans, Parsee lawyers, while the magistrates and the justice of the peace in the Appeal Court were all Britons. They had adopted the Indian Acts in their Hansard. The Arabs had their system in addition to this, their customs and traditions were age-old. They had khadis (judges) who dealt with minor cases and mudhirs, i.e. district commissioners who were appointed in different suburban areas and remote villages to run and settle the local native affairs. I must say those days all respected the law.

Goans had a rudimentary knowledge of accounts, storekeeping, inventory, customs-clearing, shipping and various other jobs. It is recorded that this was the reason why they had no problems in securing posts with the British, throughout their (the British) stay in East Africa.

During German timesin Heligoland (then called Tanganyika), they called the Goans “Goanese” who were classified as a separate race in the population census. The Germans in Tanganyika (now Tanzania) considered the Goans very special people, and because of this, they were accorded preferential treatment. Goans were popular in sports, they were good musicians, honest and industrious. These are the traits the Germans like in anyone. The European General Hospital in Dar-es-Salaam, the main port of Tanzania, had a special wing for the Goan community. Other ethnic groups were allotted a portion of the Nation Hospital.

Most of the early Goans who travelled abroad arrived without their families as they were single. They felt that they should travel first to a foreign land, tap the sources, see what it was like, secure a job position, earn some money, and if everything was well and favourable they would bring their wives or their families (or return to Goa and find a suitable bride).

In those early pioneering days, there were rumours in India and Goa, that  “Africa was a White Man’s Grave” like West Africa … that there were cannibals, malaria, tropical diseases, wild animals, and an environment that was full of difficulties. There were further told that all these took a heavy toll of foreigners. Therefore, it needed some pluck for the few who ventured out as adventurers. These would, of course, include our dear parents who had the grit to do what they did. (Generations will always remain grateful for that and more)

In those days travelling abroad was done by steamship or by dhow. The B.I.A. (British India) ploughed through the Indian Ocean regularly once a month, except for the monsoon season, when the ocean was treacherous with storms and tempests. Passaged cost a fortune. Because of this, it was not common for some Goans to travel to East Africa by the big Cutch Dhows, for which they paid a negligible amount of money. I recall the experiences of some of our Goans had travelled by dhow during my young days.

I understood from them it was no fun travelling by dhow in the high seas for a couple of months … in sheer discomfort, unsanitary conditions, and eating lousy Indian spice food that was half-cooked. There were no vegetables, no fruit or other amenities of life one could expect. With the storms, the heavy swells of the ocean brought about sea-sickness … it was something unbelievable …a terrible experience overall. Goans, generally speaking, who are used to a life of comfort and ease,  would find this a nightmare.  I have travelled with the British India ships through the Mozambique channel during monsoons and know that even this bad enough for a heavy tonnage steamer. One ship, Clip Fountain, that sailed before us, sank in the storm.

When shipping was scarce, Goans and Indians would travel from Zanzibar to the mainland to Dar es Salaam or Mombasa by dhow. They also travelled by dhows to the sister island of Pemba.

When the Goans landed in Zanzibar there were few people of their ethnic group around. These had come earlier. Because of this, they would voluntarily come forward to help any new arrivals. Since of most of these were single men, and Arab mansions were huge, these bachelors preferred to live together in a “mess” (expressed in North America as “rooming” or “sharing an apartment”). The new migrants were then assisted in procuring suitable jobs, and this was done through their compatriots who were in good graces with the British Officials. I was given to understand that they had no difficulties in doing so as the Briton like the Goans.

Living together, learning from each other, cooking, washing, playing cards (flush or poker) was fun in those early days. More than anything, speaking Konkani, their mother tongue among themselves was not unusual. The most amusing event was when they got together on a special festive occasion and had a few drinks. Eating their Goan delicacies, which each tried to cook in their way, interspersed with the Goan music of mandos and fados, they cracked jokes in Konkani, English and Portuguese simultaneously. At this time they had managed to obtain the services of a native servant whom they taught to cook and do some of the household chores. Labour was cheap then. Even when the servant stole food and drinks every day, the bachelor took this with a pinch of salt … life was fun … it was no point griping. When the Goans got into their revelries, eating and drinking and talking gibberish, the natives often wondered whether they were in their right minds or scatter-brained. However, the servants got used to this routine life. Even the English had this hotch-potch at their parties.

Beyond this, the Goans did not go overboard, although it was known that a few had Arab and native mistresses … but these stray cases.

Several Goans had learnt to speak Hindi when back home and this knowledge was put some good use in East Africa with the local Indian traders. I guess this was one reason my brother and I went to an Indian school to learn Gujerati, a little Marathi and Sanskrit, before joining the Mission high school.

In a small Goan community such as this, other than their parties they had practically no other social life at all. So they resorted to playing cards or organising bachelor parties to have good fun. At these parties, they sang their folks songs and played the violin, a favourite instrument of the Goans. A Goan plays musical instruments by notes and not by ear. This was achieved through private tuitions and schools, learning the Konkani “Masters”. At all their parties they never missed drinks. This was must and to a large extent, it still is. I guess we got this trait from the Portuguese. It was not an unusual sight to see bottles of Johnnie Walker which, in those days, cost Rs. 1.50. They had lots of Portuguese wines, mandel, cajel, urrakk, granjeau from Goa. Goa sausages arrived by ship that touched ports every month. Let it be remembered that in those days the island of Zanzibar was a free port and good were allowed to come duty free.

Despite all these expenditures, I know that there were well able to save some money to send home. This is how they managed to bring their wives and their families to East Africa eventually.

Occasionally the British officials invited them to the English club after a friendly, hockey, cricket or soccer game to have drinks and meals (maybe). This strengthened their relationships in the office. Many a Goan was promoted because his boss knew him better after meeting him at sports or at socials.

The Arabs and Swahilis and other ethnic races that lived there were friendly. In fact, Zanzibar was known to be the friendliest place in the whole of East Africa. Slowly Arabs and the natives started inviting them to their parties at home, where they would partake of their rich, spicy sumptuous and scrumptious meals. Of course, the absence of their women at these parties was conspicuous, and no alcoholic drinks were served in their homes. This had a religious significance for them.

Goans who were early pioneers in East Africa had good knowledge of English and Portuguese languages, plus a few other languages they had picked up here and there while doing several jobs abroad. Portuguese was spoken only within their circles and was of no use in official circles or business. I can safely adduce that the Portuguese language did help them immensely with the vocabulary in English, as has been in my case.

Goans likewise adhered to the age-old Hindu man-made caste system wherever they went. But as time passed, with so many problems, in various countries, this system was ironed out. The elimination of this scourge is a boon, as we are all human.

Some of the Goan clergy and Catholic Church in Goa then made no effort to eradicate this cancerous, pernicious system. To the contrary, some walled-in it and promoted it. However, in alien countries they have emigrated to, they cannot afford this anomaly. I have been told by people wherever I went on my travels that, as Catholics, Goans should be ashamed to even mention the caste system.

We heard the good side of the story of Goans in Zanzibar, and now we have to turn to a chapter on how they survived going through initial stages as new immigrants. The tropical heatwave, cholera, dysentery, yellow fever, malaria, smallpox, blackwater fever, bronchitis, pneumonia, and several other tropical diseases took their toll. I know of a few that paid the prices and whose graves are in Zanzibar and Pemba. Civil Servants were at timed compelled to be transferred to the island of Pemba, which was noted for malaria and blackwater fever. I have travelled there several times by the local Arab ferry steamers Al Said and Al Hathera and have witnessed the conditions there. I have made it a point to also visit the graves of friends who succumbed to blackwater fever and were buried there.

Malaria was very common in Zanzibar and no one slept on any of these islands without a mosquito net at night. Zanzibar and Pemba, as you will note, are malarious because of the mangrove swamps, thick jungles, clove and coconut palms. During the monsoons, it rains incessantly and these heavy rains form puddles and pools, where mosquitoes breed. The government took every possible measure to either control it or eliminate it in those days. I know this for sure because of several friends I had in the Health Office on both islands. There was a belief that neglected malaria brought about blackwater fever, which caused high temperature and the passing of blood urine. Hospitals, dispensaries and various medical facilities in those days were limited. And dispensaries and various medical facilities in those days were limited. And the few that existed were crowded every day. It was a ritual for everyone who lived on both islands in those days to dose him with quinine daily.

Few Goans ever wanted to go to Pemba, but gradually several Indians, Arabs, and European civil servants and hospital personnel commenced going there and eventually settling down, including my uncle Martin D’Silva who worked in the hospital, retired, went to Goa and died there. Goans who went to Pemba worked in hospitals, as lawyers, court clerks, businessmen, bakers, tailoring concerns, grocery shops, etc. Pioneers such as these paved the way for many others who followed suit, undaunted despite several difficulties and obstacles they had to encounter.

Geography plays a paramount role in emigration. Only those living close to convenient ports in India, like Karachi, Bombay, Goa, were likely to make the long and arduous trip by sea. Consequently, as described before, these were not unskilled labourers as were the coolies and manual labourers who built the East African Railways (Kenya-Uganda to start with) or, for that matter like the settlers in South Africa, Mauritius, Madagascar, Fiji, and the West Indies. We should not forget that these coolies were recruited by indenture for work on sugar cane, banana, clove, tea and coffee plantations. Those that were brought even for this purpose made their respective countries rich with their sweat and toil, to collect the harvest for sale to the rest of the world. We cannot deny even those groups of coolies who stayed and settled earned their money honestly. Their children were well-educated and enhanced the whole structure of the countries they lived in. Most of the indentured coolies were sent back to their homelands after their contracts expired.

We will come back to the subject of the missionaries, as they played a very important part in our Goan lives when they encouraged our children to go to their missions, schools and convents. Missionaries those days identified each and every member of the congregation by name and made it a point to visit each and every parishioner at least once a year to bless their homes. This was an old Goan custom and perhaps a custom and tradition in Christendom. They would try and get better acquainted with the family, inquire about the children, their education, personal welfare, and take more interest in everything that has happened in the community. This was not resented by the Goans; as a matter of fact, it was welcomed, since the missionaries learnt our ways, customs and characteristics. All in all, we could say that in those days we had meaningful relationships between the Church and individual Catholic families. We must admit that a priest or the clergy was practically a member of the family in those days.

The missionaries knew that the ancestors of the Goans were converted by St Thomas and St Francis Xavier, and because of this, they respected the Goans.

Turning to Goans in Zanzibar and East Africa it is recorded that they eventually brought their families to live with them. Those who were single went back on overseas leave (which was granted under the British) and brought back their brides. All this happened after they had worked for some time, saved some leave, and were in a position to rent a place and live independently. I can envisage that this was no easy task for those early settlers. It should not be overlooked that before they brought their families, they initiated them as to what to expect and what not to expect in East Africa. We should find some consolation that our ancestors and parents did agree, after listening to the tales of their husbands, to take their chances in a new country.

The arrival of the families meant that the number of the community had increased considerably. Our Goans are noted to be good organisers, and as there appeared to be a requisite need to find a meeting place for the families to gossip and share their ideas, their joys and sorrows, they formed small clubs and institutes. In Zanzibar, we had the Goan Institute, and on special occasions and feast days, the Goans gathered at a rented place to dance, eat and drink to the melodies of the Goan band. As time went on, they collected sufficient funds to buy a suitable building which would be permanently theirs. Here they had a library, arranged indoor games, concerts, socials, literary societies and sports. This was the first Goan Institute. Goan Institutes were set up in all the main cities and townships of East Africa.

All this was a novelty to the other ethnic groups and is small wonder that they too slowly organised their clubs.

Without warning came the Revolution in Zanzibar on January 12 1964, thus bringing to an end a long reign by the Omani Arab Sultanate. The revolution was so swift and quick that there was no time for reprisal. And so the Asians and with them, the Goans migrated to the mainland. Most of them migrated to Mombasa and Nairobi. Others went back to their homeland in Goa.

The wheel of Destiny slowly turned and with it came changes all over East Africa. These were sparked by revolutions, rebellions from the armies and the people. They wanted their countries for themselves … Africa for Africans … they wanted all the amenities that other ethnic groups had such as homes, cars, good food, clothes, farms, land, and above all jobs that the foreigners had supposedly taken from them. It was the birth of Nationalism, Africanisation and self-determination for the natives of Africa

 

 


Thursday, June 18, 2020

Some of the Goan Pioneers of Kenya!

IMMENSE GOAN CONTRIBUTION

TO THE KENYA CIVIL SERVICE

Compiled by Johnny Lobo from various sources and clippings

 

S R Rodrigues

1874 Born in Aldona Goa

1895 Travelled to East Africa in a dhow and joined the British East Africa Company in Mombasa

1900 Transferred to Nairobi

1901 Went to Goa on his first long leave

1902 Married Mary Lobo, my dad’s sister

1911 Took my dad, Evaristo Lobo, to Africa and employed him in the Treasury

1917 Helped form the non-European subordinate civil service

1921 Prime mover in the name change to Kenya Asian Civil Service Association

1925 S R Rodrigues retires on completion of 30 years’ service. He held the highest post then od book-keeper


 

He captured the pioneering spirits of the boys back home when he summarized his experience as follows: “I left Goa for Africa in 1896 when I was barely 21 years old. We landed in Mombasa tired, confused and anxious. I got a job with  E.A. Protectorate Government in Mombasa. As soon as I joined, I was ordered to proceed to Machakos. Since the railway was not complete, we had to walk. The journey started by crossing Makupa Creek by boat and we then walked to Changamwe, which was six miles from Mombasa. From Changamwe to Mombasa, we walked 300 miles at four miles per hour and 12 miles per day. We walked for about 30 continuous days. For company, I had six “askaris” and fifty Swahili porters and two personal servants.”

 

TWO KEY GOANS TO BE PRESENTED TO THE PRINCESS (Unknown news clipping)

 

News has been released that Kenya’s Chief Secretary has selected two Goans to be presented with their wives to her Royal Highness Princess when she visits Nairobi this month. They are Mr Saluzinho Mendes and Mr Paschal de Mello. It is understood that the Government desires to bring to the notice of Her Royal Highness the extent of the loyalty, devotion to duty and the contribution the Goan community have made towards the administration of the Colony.

The community will be proud of the Government’s manifestation of the appreciation of the services of these two Goans. Both possess long, meritorious and varied service in the Administrative Branch of the Service, as will be seen from the following brief history of each of them.

 

MR S.C. MENDES M.B.E

 

Mr Mendes was educated in Goa and Bombay and joined the Provincial Administration in 1928.  After serving in a number of districts in the Colony in the capacity of District Clerk, and cashier, Mr Mendes was appointed to the post of Provincial Head Clerk. He is the present Provincial Officer Superintendent, Kisumu.    His service in Nyanza earned him recently the  M.B.E. Mr Mendes devotes his leisure hours for the welfare of the community in Kisumu and was one of those behind the scheme which produced the new Goan Institute building there recently.

 

 

Mr P. de MELLO

 

Mr de Mello received his education in Karachi at that well-known institution St Patrick’s and D.J. Sind College. His appointment to the service dates from 1929. After seeing service in a number of stations, including the remote outposts of the Northern Frontier, he was appointed to the post of Provincial Head Clerk Mombasa. Mr De Mello was selected for transfer to the  Establishment Section of the Ministry of African Affairs.

 

Mr de Mello is a prominent member of the community who despite his numerous duties has been closely connected, both in Mombasa and Nairobi,  with the community’s and institute’s affairs.


J.M.V. (Valu) De Abreu M.B.E.

The only known Goan to be President

of a Goan institution (the Mombasa

Institute) on 13 occasions.


Inspite of the heavy demands of the office and the Goan Gymkhana
there was time for relaxation  founder President R. A. Oliver
and Luzu are pictured after a successful day's fishing

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 



NORBERT MENEZES

 

A very staunch and active founder member lived in Forest Road in Villa Menezes. Norbert worked for the Public Works Department. The statue of Christ the King in St Francis Xavier Church in Parklands was donated by the Menezes family. He loved sports and was passionate about helping people. A very good badminton and tennis player too. He enjoyed entertaining and supporting the clubs, travelling and keeping the friendships of a large circle of friends.

 

L. DA CRUZ

 

He had a congenital foot deformity. He came to Nairobi in 1914 and joined the Accountant-General’s Department. According to R P Abreo “Along with his colleagues S.R. Rodrigues of the Treasury and Leandro De Mello of the Provincial Administration, he was another prime mover in the foundation of the Non-European Subordinate Civil Service Association.  Later called the Asian Civil Service. He adds that “he was an indefatigable work who did a lot to represent the grievances of the Asian Staff to the Government for amelioration. He was a Council Member several times and also served as its president. The Goan Academic Circle me at L da Cruz’s house. The idea was to foster music, plays and talks. Several founder members of the GG attended. L da Cruz was also instrumental in setting up the Goan Overseas Association with Dr A C L D’Souza and others; serving as its first treasurer, later secretary of the GOA. He helped put the faltering Goan School on sound footing. He was awarded the British Empire Medal for his service to the Treasury.

 

C F da CUNHA

 

Made his career in the Secretariat and rose to the highest position available for which he was awarded the MBE. A keen tennis player and prominent in societal affairs. He ran a raffle in aid of the Goan School and was a prominent parishioner of St Francis Xavier Church.

 

A B REGO

 

A founder member of the Goan Gymkhana, Rego was a man of great integrity, full of good humour, very sociable and affable. Many will remember him for his loyalty, counsel and advice. He was always very supportive of initiatives by individual members in sports and cultural events. He worked in the Treasury in Nairobi before moving to Mombasa where he worked for over 33 years at the Government Coast Agency. His many sports trophies bear testimony to his many achievements in sports mainly Tennis, Badminton, Hockey and Cricket. In 1935 he represented East Africa in Hockey. He partnered Mrs Maria Dantas to  win the East African Championships in the early 1930s.

 

GERALD P. NAZARETH

 

Gerald Paul Nazareth, CBE, GBS  was a senior judge in Hong Kong and Bermuda. Gerald Nazareth was born in Kenya on the 27th of January, 1932. He was educated at the Catholic Parochial School in Nairobi and St. Xavier’s College and Government Law College in Mumbai. Nazareth joined the Kenyan Public Service in 1954, as a prosecutor. He rose to the position of Senior Counsel. Nazareth was called to the English Bar at Lincoln’s Inn in 1962 and moved to the British Solomon Islands in 1963 to take up the appointment of Assistant Attorney-General. He subsequently became the Solicitor General and then Attorney-General to the British Western Pacific High Commission. Nazareth also became a member of the island's Legislative and Executive Councils and was Deputy Governor for a short time. In 1976, he was transferred to Hong Kong and joined the Hong Kong Legal Department as Assistant Principal Crown Counsel. In 1977, he was promoted to Principal Crown Counsel. Nazareth served as Law Officer between 1979 and 1985. He was appointed Queen's Counsel in 1981. He served as a judge in Hong Kong from 1985. He retired to London in 2000, however, he continued to be a nonpermanent Judge of the Court of Final Appeal in Hong Kong and Bermuda as he had been since 1997, until 2012.

 

[Gerald Nazareth passed away peacefully in on the 13th of August 2018, aged 86. He is survived by his wife Elba and daughters Melanie, Valerie and Deborah.]

 

Judicial career Gerald Nazareth was appointed a Judge of the High Court in Hong Kong in 1985. He became a Justice of Appeal on the Court of Appeal in 1991. Nazareth helped draft the Sino-British Joint Declaration and played a key part in arranging the swearing-in of judges within hours of the handover of Hong Kong in 1997. He was one of the non-permanent judges of the Court of Final Appeal in Hong Kong from 1997 to 2012.

Honours

 

For his dedicated and distinguished service to the Crown and the British Overseas Civil Service, Mr Justice Nazareth was presented with the OBE in 1975 and the CBE in 1985. In 2000, he received the Gold Bauhinia Star honour for serving the Hong Kong judiciary for more than 24 years in excellence.

 

 

 

ROSENDO ABREO

 

Came to Nairobi in 1928 and spent his entire career in the Prison Service from which he retired in 1961. After that, he was a visiting Justice to penal institutions within Nairobi. In 1972 he published a “Historical Review of the Kenya Prison Service.” He took great interest in Goan affairs. He was a Treasurer of the GI Nairobi and President of the Goan Gymkhana 1961/62. He also held office in the Goan Overseas Association, the Kenya Goan Sports Association and the Dr Ribeiro Goan School, Nairobi. He was a keen tenis player.

 

 

 

   

 

 

 

 

 


 

 


Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Wahindi ya East Africa



 A SHORT STORY ABOUT INDIANS 

  FROM EAST AFRICA

(this has been around for a while, apologies if you have already seen it)

 

This is how we Indians grew up in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania.!!!

 

 What a life it was! we were innocent, frank and straight with people at home, at school and within the community and society.

 Our childhood was like an adventure, exploration, expedition and an unassigned project to accomplish without the present time luxury, hi-fi tools, unbelievable facilities and with not so much help provided.

 No school loans, grants, financial aid or scholarships.

 Instead, it was filled with lots of fun, excitement, enthusiasm, trust, expectation, commitment and responsibility.

 

 Although not so very easy - always and filled with some hardship, life was beautiful and excellent.!!!

 

 Our love and respect for our parents was second to none, and our respect for our teachers and elders in the community and society was in our genes

 We gladly looked after our younger brothers and sisters without any selfish motive and fuss. We felt it was our prime and moral duty.

 We attended temples, Gurudwaras, Churches, Mosques, Jamat Khannas and prayed regularly and respected all religions

 

 We integrated socially and culturally with people from all religions, class or creed.

 In essence, we enjoyed life.!!!

 To all the wonderful kids who were born in wonderful East Africa and survived the 40's, 50's, 60's, 70's.

 We had mothers who did not check our or their blood pressure or the temperature every few minutes.

 

 We never saw or wore the present time diapers, nappies and liners.

 We bounced our selves without a bouncer and peacefully slept without a baby cot.

 We sucked cow milk from a soda bottle without being sterilized or warmed in a bottle warmer. We slept during our sleep times be it day or night without monitors or blippers. There were no nurses or doctors to pamper the mums, babies and children all the time. Our baby cribs and bassinets were covered with bright coloured lead-based paints.

 We had no childproof lids on medicine bottles, doors or cabinets. We rode our bikes without helmets, gloves and guards. As children, we would ride in cars which had no child safety door locks, seat belts or airbags. Sometimes we sat on each other's laps for God's sake.!!!

 

 We shared one soft drink with juugus in it, among four friends, from one bottle and NO ONE actually died from that. We would share bhajia's, mix, mogo chips and dips or a eat chapatti and rice from someone else's plate of curry without batting an eyelid.

 

 We ate jam sandwiches or pickle on bread and butter, raw mangoes with salt that set our teeth on edge or a grilled makaai and mogo and drank orange squash. We ate at roadside stalls, drank madaffu water, ate everything that was bad for us from karangaa, kachri, makaai, muhogo, channa batetaa, bhel puri to maru bhajias and samosas. Yet we weren't overweight and falling sick as we were always outside playing freely and burning our calories keeping fit, fine and happy. During holidays we would leave home in the morning and play out all day, we were never ever "bored" and were allowed freedom all day, as long as we were back home at a given time. We would dare not be late.!!!

 

 We were innovative and creative making and building things from and out of scraps and junk of old pram wheels and bicycle rims, made kites using used newspapers, playing traditional games called Santa kukdi, pakda pakdi, nagel, khokho, hutuutu, thappo and rounders. Luxury and things related to it were far beyond our imagination, expectation and reach. We were taught and groomed to be content.

 

 We played, ran and walked barefoot without even being concerned about it if we got cut and bled we used tincture of iodine or spirit on the wound and it was ok and fine with us. We did not wash our hands ten times a day. And we were OK.!!!

 

 We did not have Play stations, Nintendo's, X-boxes, video games, no 99 channels on cable, no videotape movies, no surround sound, no mobile phones, no desktop pc, no laptops, no I-Pods or I Pads, no internet or internet chat rooms, no TV, no hi-fi and Wi fi.

 We just simply had a BUSH, PYE, PHILLIPS, MURPHY OR A GRUNDIG 2 OR 3 band Radio placed in the family sitting room to be shared by all.!!!

 

 We did not have parents, who would ask us questions like...... What would you like to eat for breakfast, lunch or dinner.? We ate what was put in front of us. No menu, no choice, no fuss, no waste and no leftovers.!!! After dinner every night in almost every household the school going children must recite all the times’ tables from 1 up to 25 before going to sleep.!!!

 

 We had very loving, caring and wonderful friends. Their loving parents whom we very fondly called UNCLE and AUNTY, and we were not treated any different from their own children by them.!!! We fell from the trees numerous times, got cut, hurt, bled, broke bones and teeth and there were no compensation claims, but only a to be strong, rise again and move on consolation.!!!

 

 We ate fruits fallen on the ground, never washed them and yet never had any viruses or infections of any kind.!!!

 We used to bath using a bucket, a koppo and Lifebuoy soap. We did not know what shampoo, conditioner or a bath and body wash...

 We rode bicycles everywhere in the town with someone sitting on the carrier or crossbar to school, cinema or playgrounds.

 Knocked on the door of a friend's house and were welcomed without any hesitation and would be treated with some goodies.!!!

 This generation of ours has produced some of the best risk-takers, problem solvers, inventors, winners and the most successful people ever! The past 50 years have been an explosion of innovation and new ideas with some failures and most successes.!!!

 

 We had patience, understanding, discipline, respect, maturity, wisdom, motivation, commitment and responsibility.

 

 And above all!

 

 We learned and survived the hard way and had our parents and grandparents who were overseeing us, with their experience, guidance and blessings.!!!!!

 


Pamela Gonsalves: The final farewell

It is with great sadness that I stand before you today to bid a final farewell to my dear sister Pam. Along with her dear devoted husband Do...