Sunday, May 16, 2021

Makadara - cradle of Mombasa Goan Sport



By Marci Pereira

 Project: ‘Archiving Memories of Mombasa Goan School’ 

email:   <>








Page No.





‘MGM Fraternity’



Contrasting Diversity



Further Insight into Life in Makadara



a)  Shiri Dukas



b)  Fruit Stalls



c)  Kahawa Peddlers



d)  Maji Fereji



e)  Hawkers Galore



f)  Other Home Provisions



Places of Worship



Makadara Goans



Matrimonial Alliances



Makadara ‘Playground’



Stella Maris Church Ground



Selection of Sporting Talent



Tony Mascarenhas (Masky)



Joe Gonsalves

(+ Devotion to Makadara’s Patron Saint)



Walter Cardoso



Jack Fernandes



John Mascarenhas



Mombasa Falcons Football Team



Makadara’s Healing Aunty:  Mercekan



Mombasa Times/Coconut Oil Pereira



Our Amazing Bulbul













‘Makadara: Cradle of Mombasa Goan Sport’

by Marci Pereira     

 Project: ‘Archiving Memories of Mombasa Goan School’ email:   <>


It is with deep sadness that I learnt of the passing on 22 January 2021, of my close Makadara boyhood friend and schoolmate: Anthony Mascarenhas ~ more popularly known in the Goan community as Tony Masky.  He finished school in 1961 and from my earliest memories, was a truly multi-talented sportsman and naturally gifted kid ~ in whatever games or sport we indulged in.   This chapter is dedicated to the memory of Tony, our other celebrated Makadara Goan sportsmen in my time:  Joe Gonsalves (Football); Walter Cardozo (Hockey); Jack Fernandes (Athletics); John Mascarenhas (Snooker) and to all those from Makadara, no longer with us.  Whilst working on this write-up in April 2021, I counted the loss of six additional of our Makadara friends in the course of 5 months.   May all their souls rest in eternal peace.

Just as schoolmates, playmates also leave indelible memories, perhaps because of the number of formative years we spend together.  For me, it certainly was the case with Tony and the impact he made on me.   This chapter offers me the opportunity of presenting a panoramic insight into our life in Makadara in the 1940s/50s.   What was Makadara like then?

1.0  ‘MGM’ Fraternity

‘MGM?’  No, not Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc ~ whose metonym is that roaring, intimidating, lion at the start of their movie shows.  In this case, as a neighbourhood friend Thomas Pereira, proudly reminded me, stands for Makadara Goans Mombasa’.  To date, those of us raised there, share a special camaraderie like members of an exclusive club as another of our mates described it as “Ndugus (Brothers and sisters)”.  Makadara was in effect, an extension of the congested Old Port district of Mombasa, where houses, many with corrugated iron roofs are densely packed with narrow alleyways (gullies) weaving in between them – devoid of any modern-day town planning.  A true maze for any newcomer into the area.  Anyone, aiming to get to the Mombasa Fish Market in the Old Port district or to the Fort Jesus, in the shortest time on foot, would have a head-start if guided by one of us, raised in Makadara.  We knew our way through those tight back-street gullies, as a shortcut.  The district was not too dissimilar from an Arab souk.  After all, historically, the Old Port district, was the original ‘Mombasa’ which had strong trade and cultural ties with the Gulf states.  That is where the dhows sailed in and out from, and did so, well into the 1950s I can recall.

2.0 Contrasting Diversity

Makadara was unlike any other residential districts of Mombasa.  It was a ‘colony’ in its own right.  During my time, Makadara was a cultural mix of harmoniously co-existing peoples of different traditions, faiths and origins: Swahilis, Baluchis, Omanis, Yemenis, Seychellois and a whole range of Asian communities ~ Goans, Hindus, Jains, Swaminaryans, Ismailis, Bohras, Ithnashiris, Gujratis, Punjabis, etc.  Moslems made up a sizeable majority.  The assortment of individual ethnic dress in the locality made a colourful spectacle in the neighbourhood and visually emphasised to any visitor, the sheer diversity of the district.   On a daily basis, apart from our western garb, one would see menfolk in fez caps, kufi/kofi (Moslem brimless, short round white cap), Middle Eastern white Kaftan robes, Lungis (a garment similar to the sarong), the Hindu Dhoti, Nehru and Jinnah-style outfits, including their trademark caps.  Women in Buibuis, Kangas, Kitenges, Hijabs, Sarees, Salwar Khameez, etc.

At the end of Ramadan, when the Feast of Eid was celebrated over five/six consecutive days, Makadara literally resembled a part of old time Arabia. The focal point for family entertainment, fun and frivolity for Moslems and others then, was the Makadara Fair.   Young and old, were bedecked in their traditional dress and finery reserved for such special occasions.  Apart from the jewellery the ladies would have their arms and legs ‘smothered’ in designer henna.  The whole area throbbed with good natured banter and the festive mood was further enhanced with the public address system at the fair, blasting out repetitive Arabic/Swahili music for hours each day.  With our doors and windows wide open, hard luck to anyone yearning for quiet and peace then.  Homework?  Forget it.  Spare a thought for migraine sufferers in the middle of all that.  However, we looked forward to neighbours sharing their festival sweets.  No qualms there.

3.0 Further Insight into Life in Makadara

a) ‘Shiri Dukas’

The whole area was well served with numerous ‘Shiri Dukas’.  ‘Shiri’ was the term used locally to describe Yemeni/Omani shopkeepers, who had a distinctive dress-style.  They wore the ‘Lungi’ which was a dark-shaded garment wrapped around the waist, up to ankle-length.  A hefty broad leather belt harnessed the Lungi around the waist.  This belt incorporated two ample sized pockets for safe keeping of monetary notes and coins.  On ceremonial occasions, onto it, was also hooked a scabbard with the traditional Arabic curved dagger.  Over their shirt they wore a western style jacket and the Kufi cap.  One easily identified Shiris from this standard dress.

‘Dukas’ were the tiny convenience stores they owned and ran in the neighbourhood.  These stores were a lifeline for locals as they traded in domestic essentials and remained open from 6 am until well past midnight.  They were dotted throughout the district.  Their existence brought an additional buzz and life to Makadara for they also served as meeting points for a chat or sharing a quick ice-cold soft drink: Vimto, Rose Soda or Mineral Soda in the early days.  Coke, Pepsi, Fanta arrived much later. Also, Kahawa (black coffee), halwa, kermatis, muhambris etc.  With hindsight, they were for us ‘mini-supermarkets’ in our day: bread, butter, sugar, milk, tea, coffee, salt, cooking oil, maize flour (ugali), biscuits (biscutti), soft drinks, basic stationery, shaving blades, paraffin, Aspro (no Ibuprofen then), soap, matches, cigarettes, candles, fagio (traditional brooms), oil lamps etc; etc.     Strictly, no booze.

An interesting characteristic of these ‘Dukas’ was how they catered to customer needs and means.  For example, in those days, most homes did not have fridges.  So, if you wanted butter, they would willingly slice a block down to half, quarter or even less, as per one’s requirement.  Likewise, bread (mukate) which resembled a stout version of the French baguette ~ they would slice that as per your requirement.  Furthermore, cigarettes, candles and the like would be sold by the stick if you did not want the full pack.  There was an old-style balance scale with weights, for measuring out loose items like sugar, flour, salt.  Their service was geared to meeting individual requirements.  If one could not find what you were looking for at one store, you tried the others, which were generally within close proximity on foot.  Looking back, there isn’t a more apt term than ‘convenience stores’ to describe these dukas.

The nearest one to our home was barely 50 paces away and owned by Mr Siddiqui Said.   He sent his sons to the Coast Arab Boys School.   However, in the 1950’s, he purchased a plot of land in Ganjoni and built a dwelling immediately outside the right-hand exit of the Mombasa Goan School.  On moving there, he registered his younger son Mustafa Said at the Goan School, who some ex-students may remember.  Schoolmates will recall that the left-hand exit of the school, led straight into the Vianna’s home.

b)  Fruit Stalls

These stalls too were mostly owned and run by Shiris.  These were large wheeled wooden carts parked strategically at busy ‘crossroads with an overhead canopy for shade and multi-layered shelves for display of seasonal fruit.  Garlands of bananas would dangle along the front.  Fruit in stock the year-round, were bananas, oranges, papayas, pineapples and tender coconuts (madafu).  Oranges (machungwa) and bananas were sold by the dozen whereas papayas, pineapples and tender coconuts per fruit.  Seasonal fruit were mangoes, guavas, custard apples, kunnazi (borams/berries), kungus (badam), cashews, passion fruit, pepeta, victorias, matundas, macomas, etc., amongst others. 

With some of the seasonal fruit like half-ripe mangoes, vitorias and matundas there was always a sprinkler pot of chilli-powder close at hand.  The fruit were suitably sliced and chilli-powder sprinkled over them.  That mouth-watering sweet, sour and chilli mix was a great favourite of kids to spend their pocket money on.  Macoma, was a hard nut to crack, but as youngsters we learnt the art of skinning its’ tough outer skin in order to get our teeth into that ultra-thin layer of chewy, tasty flesh.   To us boys, Baobab was another hard nut to crack but nowhere as challenging as the Macoma.

Alongside these fruit stalls, often there were vendors of ‘appetizers’ of freshly roasted jigu (peanuts), salted if preferred, maindi (corn on the cob) or muhogo (cassava fingers), over blazing charcoal-fire stoves.   For light when darkness beckoned, these fruit-stalls depended on portable ‘Petromax Lanterns’ that utilised kerosene.   These lights were a magnet for ‘swarms’ of tropical insects, especially just before the rains.

c)  Kahawa (Coffee) Peddlers

This was another domain of the Shiris – ‘the one-man walking café’ - a practice that hails from the Gulf region.  A trade mark of these peddlers was the shiny brass, conical, coffee pot plus the supporting gear they carried around: a charcoal-fired stove base for the pot, harnessed on a portable wire frame with handle; a detachable brass water container hooked to the frame for washing cups; miniature ceramic cups without handles and a pair of heavy-gauge ornamental metal cups deployed cleverly in one hand to play a distinctive metallic ring that announced their presence in the locality.  As explained earlier, the Lungi was their dress but the jacket in this instance, was in khaki, sleeveless and with generous sized pockets to hold a dozen or so cups.  Another must have addition was a pocket-sized sprinkler tin containing ground ginger.

The metallic ring of the cups raised awareness that the kahawa-man was around.  In keeping with Middle Eastern taste, this was strong roasted, ground Arabica coffee that was kept hot on the charcoal stove as they moved around on foot.  Handling the hot coffee cups was an acquired art with the locals.  One held the wide rim between two fingers of a hand and slurped it gently to nourish the palate.  Coffee was offered with or without ginger.  These peddlers would make their daily rounds in the neighbourhood, twice a day.  As the cups were re-used, these guys would stand around until their last cup was reclaimed.  No souvenirs there.  Understandably, they did brisk business around outdoor work sites.

d) Maji Fereji (Water Dispenser)

Homes that did not have piped water depended upon ‘Maji-Fereji’ supplies.  These were manned water-supply dispensing stations, set up by the utility company, for the purchase of metered-water for domestic use.  Homes were expected to collect this water in their own receptacles, usually ‘debes’.  Debes, were previously used rectangular cooking-oil tin containers, with a capacity of 5 gallons or so, that were converted for manually transporting water to individual homes.  Visiting Makadara, one would invariably see no end of these porters criss-crossing the entire neighbourhood.  With hindsight, it was sheer drudgery for these porters/house-helpers to heave these tins on their shoulders, but it provided them a means of earning a living, I expect.  Maji-Fereji was a central point known to everyone in the locality.  Makadara was generally devoid of trees or green areas but interestingly, a cluster of tall Kapok (Cotton) trees, that provided shade for the dispensing station, thrived.  It was the water overspill that nurtured them.  Maji Fereji was Makadara’s oasis.

Just as with water, there were many homes without electricity.  These depended on kerosene oil lamps for night light.  For cooking, it was predominantly charcoal or paraffin stoves

e)  Hawkers Galore

There were no end of hawkers selling an assortment of produce and wares.  These were individuals carrying baskets on their heads or in hamali carts (hand carts).  Could be fruit, veg like barazis (beans), dried fish (Samaki), coconuts, metal ware like: ‘Sigidi’ (charcoal stoves), ladles, tongs, domestic utensils; Kikapus (woven palm baskets), house mats, brooms and the like.  Hamali carts were used to sell bulkier, heavier products like bags of Makara (charcoal), Madafu (tender coconuts) etc.  Dhows arrived in Mombasa Old Port once a year and were brought in by seasonal trade winds.  We knew when they were in port because of the additional activity hawker-wise in Makadara.   These traders came selling more exotic items from India or Arabia like rugs, carpets, cotton linen, wooden toys, Hazur (dates) etc.  When they were in town, our parents would warn us to be ultra-cautious when playing outdoors.  There was this idea that they would kidnap young boys although mercilessly, I am not aware of any of our mates going missing.

An interesting hawker was the ‘Mali-Mali’ where our mothers got involved in the main.   This was bartering second-hand clothes in relatively good condition, in exchange for household crockery, pots and pans.   The bartering would take ‘ages’ between the two until a mutually agreed reconciliation was arrived at.  No cash involved here.

f.  Other Home Provisions

For daily essentials like meats and vegetables, we depended on the McKinnon Market which was in close proximity to Makadara.  Our Mums would despatch the older children or house helper to purchase the requirements for the day.  The Meat Market was immediately next to the Vegetable Market where stalls specialised in selling fresh beef, lamb or chicken.  For fresh fish, it was a longer trip to the Old Port Fish Market.  However, there were agents (usually Shiris or Swahilis) who could be contracted on a monthly basis, to deliver daily fish to the house in good time for lunch, per an agreed prescribed value.  The kinds of fish delivered depended on the catch of the day, and of course the season.

I vaguely remember, Mombasa had a Goan Fish Shop in Salim Road.  My Mum would send us there especially on Fridays, to get cuts of King Fish.  Being a day of abstinence for Catholics, the shop was always filled to capacity on Fridays.  There used to be queues outside the door.

For other provisions like rice, flour, pulses, coffee, chillies, spices, etc. and additional domestic essentials, we depended on Asian Dukas in the bazaar area located around the McKinnon Market.  Our mothers would make monthly trips to these dukas, around the end of each month, to pay the monthly bill and place new orders selecting the quality and quantity of the produce of their choice, in person.  These dukas offered monthly credit terms and would know their customers by name.  My family’s choice store was ‘Shah Purshottam Kanji” right opposite the McKinnon Market/Meat Market juncture.  This was a monthly ritual for all our Mums.  I can remember mothers from the Railway Quarters cutting through Makadara, as a short cut, to these dukas.  The order would arrive home at an agreed time, on specially designed pedal bicycles meant for such deliveries.  Just a handful of Goans, or others, for that matter, owned cars then.  So, all our daily errands had to be done on foot.  A few homes did own a bike, as we did, with five boys in the family.

4.0 Places of Worship: Moslems

Serving the large Islamic community, was a mosque close by.  Each day, at 5am, the muezzin could be heard calling the faithful to prayer from his minaret.  No loud hailers during my days but audible enough to wake up the neighbourhood.   Friday being a day of prayer, would generate a lot of movement around our home, with menfolk dressed in their white kaftans and kufi, making their way to and back from the mosque.  During Ramadan, Makadara was alive until the early hours of the morning.  A group of two or three ritual singers, that included a drummer, would go door-to-door chanting Islamic verses.  It had a twin purpose:  Alerting the faithful to prayer and collecting alms for the poor during their holy season.

Towards the end of their Fasting Season there was such a tumult and commotion mainly among children and young people, around Makadara, with all eyes transfixed onto the sky at dusk, in search of the first sighting of the sliver of the new moon.   When it was spotted, the ambience was ‘electrified’ with such joy and happiness.  The traditional high pitched ululating calls of the Baluchi women resounded throughout Makadara.  That heralded the beginning of Eid Celebrations. [Eid Mubarrak].

In Makadara, there was a well-attended Madrasa, in the neighbourhood, for young boys and girls, close to our home.  This was really an outdoor wooden shack.  It always fascinated us, as boys, when passing by.  We would stop and peep through the wooden slats and see the youngsters squatting on the floor, reciting Koranic verses under the watchful eye of their austere religious teacher.


At 6am, the bell of the Holy Ghost Church announcing the celebration of the daily Mass could be heard.  Attending daily Mass, was a must for all in our home.  My brother, Lazarus, and I being altar boys had to be there at least 10 minutes ahead.  My Dad saw to that.  The church was fairly close ~ barely a 5/10-minute walk for us.  

In my time, amongst the daily churchgoers was our Makadara friend: Agnelo Gracias (now Bishop) and his family.  I still hold vivid memories of the young Agnelo, armed with, what seemed like a ‘voluminous’ leather-bound Daily Missal in hand, walking briskly diagonally through the Makadara Park after morning Mass.  That short-cut to his home, was extensively used by other town-folk who lived in his part of Makadara.  Remember the Makadara Park?  That was the park with the circular band stand, with a rotund roof and circumferential steps leading up to the raised platform.  When not in use as a band stand, it was a great place for kids to play around safely, especially on Sunday evenings, with our parents squatting close by, keeping a watchful eye.

The park had sizeable grounds laid to tropical grass and this was the venue where the earlier mentioned Makadara Fair took place.  In the course of the school project, I learned that the renowned Mombasa Shiftars Band entertained at this fair.  The band comprised of our younger schoolmates (1965): Benny Mascarenhas (Lead), Dominic Noronha (Rhythm), Pauly Dias (Bass) Rudi Lopes (Drums).  Here is an extract from Cecilia Mascarenhas’ write-up on the Shiftars, that dovetails in this context: “…The Shiftars also played for various Goan functions at the club and weddings and yearly at the Makadara fete where they generated a big fan base especially with the young Arab/Muslim girls and boys celebrating Id and of course at the Diamond Jubilee Hall for various Ismaili weddings and functions…).”          The Shiftars would have played at that Makadara Bandstand.   More on this illustrious band in the chapter relating to Mombasa Goan School: Music and Musicians.

What Eid was for the Moslems, Christmas was for Goans with the exchange of ‘Khusvar’ (Goan home-made sweets) to family and friends.  Apart from our own neighbourhood, as boys, we looked forward to this tradition in taking trays of these sweets, on foot, alongside our house helper, radiating in all directions out of Makadara: Railway Quarters, Mnazi Moja, Ganjoni, Makupa, etc.  This involved a lot of toing and froing in the hot sun.  Being a happy occasion, who cared?  We looked forward to a few coins being pressed into our hands as a thank you gesture on occasions.

In keeping with our Goa tradition, boys were busy crafting stars out of bamboo sticks and tissue paper.  Being handcrafted, the size, colour and design was left to ones’ imagination and creativity.  With an electric bulb to illuminate them, they brightened the neighbourhood.  Last Christmas, my Makadara mate, Alu De Souza, scribbled in his greeting card: “I still remember the stars you displayed on your roof”.  Now that was nearly 70 years ago!!!


For the Hindus, there was a temple on the other side of Makadara Park, which I remember well, just a block away from Dr Bonaventure Pinto’s surgery.  Thanks to the feeding generosity of their faithful, it attracted that many house pigeons in its forecourt to rival with Trafalgar Square in London.  The celebration of Diwali brought throngs to the temple with garlands galore and there was sweet floral fragrance around for days.  The devotees well-dressed male and female, all proudly sporting that blood-red spot of religious significance on their forehead, which we knew as ‘kookum’.  A practice, not too dissimilar from our ‘Ash Wednesday’. As this celebration is known as the ‘Festival of Light’ it was time for endless fireworks in and around Makadara.  Here again, we looked forward to the tempting Mithai (Indian Sweets).

Whether Diwali or not, I remember the temple had bell(s) ringing monotonously for hours every day.  I presume this was all part of the daily ritual.  Bishop Agnelo/Flavio Gracias will remember this well as they lived at the opposite end of the Makadara Park.

5.0 Makadara Goans

The community in Makadara was made up mostly of ‘Tailoring Families’. The leading family probably being that of Josinho Gonsalves (father of Joe Gonsalves, a schoolmate).  A well-established Gents Tailor, I guess he was one of the earliest tailoring outfitters in Mombasa that catered for European clients.  To meet growing business demand, he recruited tailors directly from Goa.   Many lodged in his home on first arriving in Mombasa.  Living immediately next door, they had boarders as long as I can remember.  Many of these newly arrived tailors branched out independently in later years and would be joined by their wives and children.

An early entrant into Ladies Tailoring was Manoel Monteiro (father of Nelson Monteiro, my classmate).  His shop, named ‘Maison Linda’ was round the corner from the Regal Cinema.  Here too, with his growing establishment, he recruited two of his brothers: Joaquim and Francis from Goa.  This was common practice to recruit family members, friends or fellow villagers direct from Goa, then.

Interestingly, all the above-mentioned tailors were the founding fathers of the St Francis Xavier’s Tailors Society in Mombasa which was originally established in 1905.   What is noteworthy too, is none of the sons or daughters of Mombasa tailors branched out into tailoring.  From my memory, I know of only two ‘sons’ of tailors in East Africa who followed in their fathers’ footsteps: Casimiro Dias of ‘S Francis Dias’ in Mombasa and Raymond Fernandes of ‘SFX Fernandes’ of Kampala.  Both attended tailoring colleges in the UK and returned to run their family businesses in East Africa.

The neighbourhood comprised a broad spectrum of Goan surnames: Alphonso, Cardoso, Da Costa: De Souza; Dias; Fernandes; Gonsalves; Gracias; Mascarenhas; Monserrate; Monteiro; Pereira; Ramos; Rebello; Silveira; Tavares.  Occupation-wise, apart from tailors, we had three work for Barclays Bank; two for Standard Chartered Bank, four for African Marine, four for East African Customs & Excise; several for East African Railways & Harbours; two for Saccone & Speed; Gailey & Roberts; Smith Mckenzie; Portuguese Consulate; Mombasa Times.  In addition, there were three Teachers, a part-time Police Reserve Officer and a Chief Fire Officer (Jimmy Tavares) at the Mombasa Kilindini Docks Fire Station.

The ‘Tavares Family’ of seven sons and a daughter, although Mangalorean, were viewed as Goan friends in the neighbourhood.  They were popular in Makadara during my boyhood years.  Their home was the ‘Boys Library’ for comics like Beano, Dandy, Superman, Captain Marvel, Tarzan, etc.  No need for an invitation into their house.  Their open house friendliness was extended to us Makadara boys.  We walked in and took a seat like bees to honey, because of the comics.  The family were most accommodating in this respect.

The Tavares boys were a talented bunch.  Henry Tavares, who finished school in 1957, was the Artistic Director for Mombasa Goan Institute’s Centenary Celebrations in 2001.  His exceptional gift for art was apparent to us all, from a noticeably young age.  In the heyday of ‘Rock-n-Roll’, his brother Flavian, exhibited that x-factor quality and went on to win the prize at the dance competition organised by Mombasa Tailors Club, in partnership with one of the Abreu girls.  Their elder brother Jimmy, the Fire Officer, played a key role in the rescue work following the tragic collapse of the Naaz Cinema roof in Mombasa whilst a movie was in progress.  This cinema was next to the Mombasa Police Station/Coast Girls School.


In the earlier years, many of our families had a choice of two schools for boys and girls:  a) Star of the Sea School.    b) Mombasa Goan School.   Many boys like myself and my brother Lazarus, started off at the Star of the Sea School up to the age of 10/11 years after which we were expected to transfer to a secondary school which invariably was the Mombasa Goan School from 1932 onwards.


For girls, the number one choice was the Star of the Sea School.   Although we had girls at the Mombasa Goan School in my time, I cannot recall any of the Makadara parents sending their daughters there.  Star of the Sea had a well-established record and reputation dating back to 1912.


6.0 Matrimonial Alliances

Makadara Goans, being a close community, witnessed a few marital partnerships.  Here are some I recall:  i) Anselm Monserrate/Angelina Fernandes; ii) Thomas Pereira/Sebastiana Mascarenhas. 

iii) Patrus Pereira/Antonette; iv) Lazarus Pereira/Celine Monteiro; v) Henry Tavares/Elvira Fernandes;  vi) Tony/ Philomena De Souza.   I am sure there must be others I am not aware of.  The ‘say-cheese moment’ wedding photograph of Anselm/Angelina below (1958), captures several points made earlier about our Makadara community.  Mombasa’s tailoring community is well represented therein.  For me, this is a memorable photograph which I am sure will interest many reading this chapter in recognising some faces immediately and others vaguely, during their days in Mombasa.  Sadly, a good many of those are no longer with us.


(Photo courtesy of the Monserrat family)



Anselm & Angelina Monseratte’s Wedding Photograph:  Holy Ghost Church, Mombasa - (1958)


My observations:  1) Those steps leading to the front door of the Holy Ghost Church, will have seen almost everyone married at that church, photographed there.  It was the most favoured location for wedding pictures in addition to the palm fronds in the same church grounds.   

2) This picture has half the Makadara crowd in it.  I note, my family is well represented therein:

Sister Juliana, brothers Lazarus and Menino, Aunty Helen (De Souza) Nazareth, cousins Martha and Lydia Da Costa. 

3) I spotted both Tony Masky’s parents and sister, Sebastiana.  Joe Gonsalves, his cousin:  Patrus Pereira, the best man; ‘Yes-Pea’ Pereira (Standard Chartered Bank), three Tavares brothers: Henry, Flavian and Cyril; Augustine Fernandes.  The bride’s parents: John (African Marine) & Carlota Fernandes and her siblings.    

4) Mombasa’s Tailoring community is in strength: a) Mr Constancio & Mrs Dumiana Mascarenhas, b) Earlier mentioned Monteiro brothers: Mr Joaquim Monteiro with his wife Maria & younger sibling Mr Francis Monteiro; c) Mr & Mrs Nunes (brother of H Nunes); d) Constancio Gonsalves; e) Mr & Mrs Rodrigues (Lysette Tailoring). 

5) Amongst the ladies I recognised: Bridesmaid Marina Fernandes; Maria (Mascarenhas) Mehegan; one of the Pires girls (sister of Felix Pires).  {Sadly, when compiling this chapter, I learnt that both Marina and Martha Pires passed away}.  

6) Many of the little ones in the picture will be in their 70s’ now I guess.    Although several other faces seem familiar to me, unfortunately the names escape me after all these many years.  I can just imagine this picture evoking a lot of memories for our Makadara/Mombasa Goan folk, who will know of faces therein or at least jog their memory.

7.0 Makadara ‘Playground’

To call it a ‘Playground’ is a misnomer.  Note, this is not connected to the Makadara Park in any way. This was a tight, sandy, flat, open plot, right in front of our flat-roofed house, in the middle of the residential quarter.  It offered a sheltered little square bounded by our house and three others, where we played as children.   With the high density of housing in Makadara, there weren’t other open spaces as this, from my recall.  We spent hours during my boyhood years playing with our mates, that included Tony Masky and the above-mentioned friends.  It wasn’t a playing field by any stretch of the imagination, but it served as one in our context.  Compact and congested as it was, we were engrossed in hotly contested games of football, hockey, cricket, badminton, marbles, gilli-danda, seven tiles, ‘askari-chori’ and much more.   Running round one of the houses, served as a convenient track circuit. 

We tried to improvise where we could.  For instance, cricket was with a sawn-off bat from a wooden plank, a tennis ball and sticks for wickets/bails.  Numbers were often three or four a side. All our games then were barefooted.  Parents could not afford school shoes and expensive sporting paraphernalia, apart from hockey sticks.  Badminton was played by those in work who could afford the rackets /shuttlecocks/nets required.  The court lines were mapped out using firewood ash which was in ample supply.   The Gonsalves family, that kept boarders, used a wide cast-iron cooking stove that utilised mangrove-pole firewood.  Hence, there was no end of ash available daily here.  Also, many of us used charcoal stoves for cooking, which was an alternative.

Here is an interesting childhood memory recorded by Geraldine (Mascarenhas) Rodrigues, a neighbourhood friend and sister of John/Al Mascarenhas:

“ …… I was reminiscing our good old days.……..  I also remember Joe giving us a shilling which was a lot for marking the badminton court.  …...

Our games would go on until dusk set in.  We returned home dusty and sweaty – ready for a bath.  Our house with its long narrow veranda, served as a pavilion.   Towards Joe Gonsalves’ end was a permanent wooden bench immediately outside their front door.  In jest, that was like our ‘Director’s Box’, for our elders would relax out there in conversation whilst we played blissfully on our ‘playground’.  The hours of fun, enjoyment and camaraderie those days brought us, is still fondly remembered by many of our mates.  Small as it was, that ‘playground’ is where we honed our playing ability and techniques.

Interestingly, that same open space permitted not only our sports activities but celebration of events like Baluchi weddings, complete with decorative awnings, stage, seating, etc.  Adjoining this space was another little square that served as a boxing ring during Ramadan evenings.  I still recall many sleepless nights when those noisy celebrations were taking place every year.  

In 2001, my wife Agnela and I, visited Mombasa to see what had become of my ‘hometown’, since my departure in 1963.   Obviously, I went to Makadara.  As everywhere else in Mombasa, the place had changed drastically.  Our playground was ‘consumed’ by a big housing block.  The only venue in Mombasa that had not changed an iota, in all those years, was the Mombasa Railway Station.

(An ‘Extension’ of Makadara)


For many of us Makadara boys, our ‘full-size’ genuine playground was the “Stella Maris Club”, immediately behind, and located within the Holy Ghost Church grounds.  It was as good as an extension of our neighbourhood.  On days when there were no evening church services on, the Stella Maris playing field, was alive with boys eager for a robust and energetic kick-about, quite apart from those that fancied table-tennis indoors.  The numbers were often sufficient to select two lively competing teams.


Now, somebody had to be responsible for ensuring there was a decently inflated and well-maintained leather football, available for play.  Whose role was that?  Who else?  Me.  Kidding aside, this was serious stuff, because I was conscious that if there is no ball, there is no play.  Imagine the disappointment if there was no ball?  After inflating it to the right pressure with a bicycle hand pump and ensuring the tie-lace was sufficiently tensioned, my regime was to rub candle wax into the stitching (and the leather) of the panels.  That was to ensure a prolonged life for the ball.  Soon after that ‘polish treatment’, it really was a big temptation to give the waxed ball, the first whack.   I loved the sight of seeing our mate Agnelo Gracias turn up at our house, around play time, infused with such excitement, take charge of the ball, grab it tightly under-arm and along with Flavio, his brother, myself and my brothers, and anyone else whoever was there, march delightedly towards the Stella Maris ground.  What a lovely and delightful memory that remains for me. 


9.0 Tony Mascarenhas (Masky) ~  A Multi-talented Sportsman ~


Tony remains transfixed on my mind as one of our earliest playmates in Makadara.   He was like no other, with an insatiable appetite for any game on any day and at any time – be it marbles, gilly-danda, football, hockey – you name it.  And boy he excelled in whatever game we played whether in Makadara or the Stella Maris Club.  After school and during holidays, he always came looking to play with us at our home.  His family did not have to worry: “Where’s Tony”?  You could lay a bet he was on ‘Makadara Playground’.  Always, very obliging, respectful and never quarrelsome.   His parents and our elders knew him affectionately as “Antu”.   Our families were good friends.  That is why he has left such a profound impact on me.


His excellence in all sports was apparent to us from the earliest and it came as no surprise that he blossomed into an exceptionally gifted talent in football, hockey, cricket in Mombasa Goan and other sporting circles.  He is one who was genuinely nurtured in Makadara and developed alongside our other renowned Makadara sportsmen like:  Joe Gonsalves in football and Walter Cardoso in hockey.

From Makadara, he graduated to play for the Goan School, the Mombasa Goan Institute, Liverpool Football Club (Mombasa), and I learnt from his obituary, that he also played for Nairobi Heroes.   In hindsight, his stature, size and footballing skills reminded me of that Argentinian legend: Maradona.   Now that is some accolade.

Like the Argentinian, Tony hails from a humble beginning.  Coming from a tailoring family of four boys and two girls, he was the fifth in line.  This is what his sister shared with me in response to my extending sympathies on learning of Tony’s loss:

“… Tony will be remembered as a man of humble beginnings.  We kicked our first soccer ball sewed out of torn socks stuffed with tailors’ waste clippings.  The next was a picked-up stray ball at the Mvita Tennis Club.  The rest is history! ….”.

That statement puts into perspective my earlier observations of how we would improvise, play barefooted and that our families could not afford expensive sporting paraphernalia.  Tailoring offcuts for his first ball!!!  As indicated earlier, our cricket bats were sawn-off wooden planks.   To keep our football going as long as we can, we would rub candle wax into the leather and its stitching before every game.

Those of us raised in Mombasa will be familiar with ‘Mvita Tennis Club’.  As children, often, after Sunday evening church services we used to take a stroll past it with our parents.  Our schoolmate, Ernest Vianna and his dad, regularly featured in Mombasa Times sports pages when tennis competitions at that club were taking place.  I would follow their progress keenly from the newspaper reports.

Not many of our children would know of or would have heard of the game we called ‘Galli-Dandu’.  From the Namaskar Africana forum, I picked up that other Asian boys raised in East Africa, also played the game, which is of Indian origin and I was fascinated to have spotted the following item in the Goan Voice UK, as recently as 27 February 2021!!!  Here are pertinent extracts from that report:


Panaji: Toy major Funskool India Ltd aims to revive some of India’s traditional games such as Gilli-Danda ……. after a call from Prime Minister Narendra Modi to showcase and promote some of India’s traditional games.   Chief Executive Officer of Funskool said that 15 traditional games and puzzles will be launched by the firm at the India Toy Fair 2021.    …………Funskool has converted the outdoor games into board games whilst also launching wooden toys for Gilli-Danda and Lagori, which is also known as Seven Tiles. …We are planning to install new machinery at our plant in Goa …”

From the above, I get the impression that ‘Funskool’ is the Indian equivalent of ‘Toys-R-Us’ which we, out in the West, know (or did know) so well.

Tony Mascarenhas’ family were our good family friends.  His elder sister, Sebastiana, was the first from the Makadara tailoring community to have passed the Senior Cambridge Exam.  That instilled a lot of confidence in children of low-income families, to likewise, forge ahead in school education.  Tony’s late brother Julian was my classmate.  Whenever I fell back in my homework assignments Julian helped out.  Sadly, in the course of working on this chapter, I received the sad news that their older brother, Manuel, passed away on 30 March 2021 in London.  Loss of two siblings within two months!!  May their souls rest in eternal peace.  I recently learnt that Manuel played for Mombasa Falcons and Nairobi Crusaders.  We see later how their elder brother Cajetan and Julian also played for Mombasa Falcons.

I referred earlier to Tony’s penchant for sport and games.  The following puts into perspective his love for physical activities.  I came out to the UK for higher education in 1964.   In the sixties, Tony worked on board a ship.   My Mum got to know that his ship would be stopping in London and packed a sizeable carton with goodies to be passed on to me.   I received a letter to inform me when the ship would dock in London.    With the help of a ‘London A to Z’, buses, mainline trains I found my way to the London Docks from Battersea and the quayside where the ship was berthed.   From the quayside, I drew attention of a crew member that I was there to see Tony Mascarenhas and waited patiently.  Several minutes later I see Tony bounding down the gangway, panting and sweating and with a table tennis racket in hand to greet me.   He obviously got interrupted in the middle of a game.

Tony was someone, I would have liked to meet just one more time.  Sadly, that is not to be.  His children and grandchildren can be really proud of him.

10.  Joe Gonsalves ~  Football Maestro ~



Joe Gonsalves was our next-door neighbour in Makadara – a Mombasa Goan School ex-student. His father, Josinho Gonsalves, was one of the pioneering tailors in Mombasa.  We knew the family well as we had a joint inter-connecting door between our two apartments.   We respectfully addressed his parents as Padrin/Madrin which hails from the Portuguese Padrinho/Madrinho (Godfather/ Godmother).  Mrs Gonsalves was in fact the Godmother of my brother Lazarus.  The family were well known and respected in the Goan community in Mombasa.

Joe’s footballing flair and skills were renowned in Mombasa and loved and appreciated not only by Goans but Arabs, Baluchis, Swahilis.   As we saw earlier, Makadara, was home to all these communities.  His command of Swahili was impeccable.  Menfolk, in our neighbourhood knew him well and called him ‘Josef’.  They would stop and chat with him in Swahili as they crisscrossed our home in Makadara.

At school, sporting-wise, he was one of the early beneficiaries of the Mr Ildefonse/Mr Joe Fernandes era at the Mombasa Goan School.  That was the dawn of what I refer to as the ‘Golden Years’ of sporting history at the school.  He also played hockey, but football is what he excelled in.  After school, he went on to play for the Mombasa Goan Institute.  That was a significant break-through in my time because by doing so, he became the first ‘son of a tailor’ to play for the Goan Institute, that proudly embraced him as one of their own.  He broke through the glass ceiling and thereafter, the GI accepted others like Tony Masky, Reynold Pereira, Jack Fernandes, etc.

The GI did not participate in the Mombasa Football League.  Most of their games were friendlies with other clubs.  However, the GI ground did harness the competitive rivalries between talukas of Goa:  Bardez; Salcette; etc. both in football and hockey.  These were fiercely competitive affairs that would generate a lot of interest in the Goan community in my days, with each set of players determined to proudly represent the part of Goa their forebears hailed from.  These events stirred up fierce ‘tribal rivalry’ on and off the field.  Below is the photograph of the Salcete XI that won the trophy in 1959 and includes ‘giants’ of Mombasa Goan football then.


Salcete XI:  Winners of Trophy in 1959

Standing Left to Right:  Rui Mergulhao; Seraphino Antao; xxxxx; xxxxx; Pascoal Antao; Joe Fernandes

Seated Left to Right:  Jack Fernandes; Effie Antao; xxxxx; Joe Gonsalves; xxxxx

Floor Left to Right:  xxxxx; Eladio Pereira (Mascot – My kid brother); xxxxx


To play in the Mombasa Football League, our aspiring Goan players joined either of two leading clubs in the town:  a) Feisal Football Club or b) Liverpool Football Club.  These were fierce rivals that mobilised all football enthusiasts of Mombasa, whenever they met each other, be it in the league or the cup.  Mombasa Stadium was a sell-out.  I recall a few times of not being able to get through the turnstiles.  One would know who won as there would be cavalries of their fans parade jubilantly through the town.  I had to make do in reading about the match in the Mombasa Times the next day.

Joe Gonsalves was signed by Feisal Football Club – the lone Goan player in my time. The name ‘Feisal’ was adopted in honour of King Feisal of Saudi Arabia.  Needless to say, who their patrons and supporters were.   I did point out earlier that Joe had a good rapport with Arabs and Swahilis in Makadara and I believe that was a big factor in Feisal persuading him into joining them.  I remember attending one of Feisal’s games at the Mombasa Stadium and the superb goal Joe Gonsalves scored, single-handedly, the memory of which is still etched on my mind.

Liverpool Football Club on the other hand, secured the services of the renowned Albert Castanha in goal and Effie Antao (cousin of Seraphino), who was an outstanding defender.  Something I picked up in the course of my project was that Tony Mascarenhas also played for this club, and so did Joe Fernandes, another Goan School ex-student.  In fact, all the above-mentioned names were from the Goan School.  Having left Mombasa in 1963, I lost all connection with developments in Mombasa sport, thereafter.

Joe would join us often on the Makadara Playground, tight as it was.  In his early years he played barefooted, as did most of the players of that period, and we did as boys in Makadara.  He was one of the first to have gone through that stage of transition towards using footwear when playing club football.   I recall even up to the point when I left school in 1958 most of the boys partaking in school sports, doing so barefooted.   In that year, on School Sports Day, I know of just two schoolmates who wore spikes.  It was then that I saw the real advantage of dedicated footwear for different sporting events because the two with the running shoes, picked up first and second in the ‘Mile Event’ whereas I ended up third on the podium.  From 1960 onwards, the use of specialised footwear became more evident amongst our sportsmen.

Unfortunately, Joe Gonsalves was troubled with a knee cartilage problem which with modern-day sports medical attention, I am sure would have helped prolong his footballing flair for a few more years.  I found out that he moved to Nairobi in the mid-sixties and played a key role in the sporting development of Goan youth.


Devotion to ‘Makadara’s Patron Saint’

Saint Anne (Mother of BVM)

‘Annual Ladainha’


Apart from this sporting link, Joe Gonsalves’ family were well known in Makadara for another reason:  the annual celebration of the Feast of St Anne on 26 July.   Every Goan child that grew up in Makadara during my time, still carries rich memories of the nine-day novena (known amongst us as Ladin), culminating in the celebration of the feast itself.  The Gonsalves’ had a deep devotion to St Anne.  I was not able to find out what their compelling reason for that devotion was.  For me, that annual ritual has etched such loving memories of the Gonsalves’, Cardosos’ and other family members.  It was the event of the year, on our neighbourhood calendar, that we all looked forward to, which drew in all of the Makadara Goans.   Hymns, accompanied by violins, and prayers, were in Konkani.  To this day, I subconsciously hum the tunes when in the bath. The devotion began around 7pm and lasted about an hour.  After the prayers, snacks were served with a drink.   That is what endeared the annual ritual to the children, apart from the neighbourhood camaraderie.


Each year, the Gonsalves’ went through extraordinary lengths and expense to celebrate the feast with pomp and fanfare in Goa-style: burning incense, candles, garlands of jasmine, marigolds etc.  Moreover, it brought together, members of all social standing.   One year, I vividly remember the Mombasa Portuguese Consul (Felix Dias?), a friend of Mr Gonsalves, turning up for the feast.   Imagine all this 9-day Christian ritual within earshot of our Baluchi, Arab and Indian neighbours all around us.  That says a lot about our harmonious co-existence then.  The statue of St Anne was not too dissimilar from the one above.  I trust it must now be in the safe keeping of a family member in Australia or Canada.


11.  Walter Cardozo ~ A Hockey Stalwart ~ 

Walter was Joe Gonsalves’ brother-in-law.  He arrived in Mombasa from Bombay in later years.  I had always been impressed by the Bombay émigrés.   Like Walter, they were suave, confident and displayed an amazing command of English – both spoken and written.  They impressed me.  Other than that, they were gifted in either sport, music, writing, artistic creativity and the like.   That said a lot about their schooling in Bombay.  Apart from Walter, I can recall several others during my Makadara days, who arrived in later years:  Walter’s brother Leslie, a Mr Ramos that lodged with us, a Mr Silveira, Anselm Monserrate and his elder brother, Sirino (Yes-Pea) Pereira and his brother, Wolfgang.

High regard for Indian schooling/education was apparent in Mombasa, before and since 1932, when Mombasa Goan School was founded.  The opening of the Mombasa Goan School offered the opportunity for Goan boys and others, to receive secondary schooling in Mombasa itself, for the first time.  I know a few of our contemporaries in Mombasa, who were sent to India by their parents for schooling/higher education.  Bishop Agnelo Gracias, did his seminary studies in Bombay after finishing at the Goan School.  Another interesting Goan School ex-student from the Railway Quarters, who got in touch with me in December 2020, is Fabian (Fabio) Correia.  Having done part schooling at the Mombasa Goan School until 1959, his parents sent him to St Joseph’s Boys High School in Bangalore.  St Joseph’s founded in 1868, celebrated its Sesquicentennial (150 years) Anniversary in 2018.  As an outstanding alumnus, Fabian was awarded a special citation for being the best all-rounder (athletics, hockey, football, table-tennis) the school had produced to date.  He schooled there from 1959 to 1963.  That is some honour.

Walter loved his hockey and I remember well he trying to emphasise to us, younger ones, the value of deft footwork and body movement to improve our play.  He would join us often on the Makadara Playground.  He was a regular in the Mombasa GI hockey team and did actually captain the side for a few years, I recall.   That was the heyday of hockey in Mombasa, with outstanding players like Franklyn and Michael Pereira, Albert Castanha, Joe Faria amongst others.  Knowing him personally, I guess he would have been an inspirational captain drawing the best and most out of his team.  In hockey, their biggest challengers in Mombasa, were the Sikh Union.  Their intense rivalry always drew a vast crowd from both communities whenever they met.  I watched a few of those games. The matches were so charged and the unyielding competitiveness occasionally led to blows when fouled.  The other fixtures that drew much local excitement were when any of the Nairobi Goan Clubs (Goan Institute/Railway Goan Institute/Gymkhana) were in town.  There were occasional visits from Tanga and Dar-es-Salaam Goan clubs too.


12.  Jack Fernandes ~ Athletics/Football/Tiatrist ~





Jack was another Makadara mate that arrived in later years from Goa and joined the Mombasa Goan School.  His father, PP Fernandes, a tailor, worked at Moloo Brothers the ivory curio shop in Salim Road and he lodged with the Gonsalves’.  So, Jack too, was our next-door neighbour in Makadara.  Hailing from Goa, football was his favoured sport to begin with and he played for the school and thereafter the GI as a right winger.  In school sports, his exceptional speed registered him as a real talent in athletics.  I recall he amassed a case full of trophies from School Sports Days.

His prowess in athletics blossomed further when he joined the Coast Athletics Club, later to be named the Achilles Athletics Club, specialising in the 440-yard event.  He was one of those who benefitted from the professional coaching expertise of Ray Bachelor, and performed alongside formidable names like Seraphino Antao, Albert Castanha, Joe Faria, Alcino Rodrigues, Meldrita Laurente and Laura Ramos and a host of other reputable athletes of the day.  To my mind, the appointment of Ray Bachelor was probably the best thing that happened to all our aspiring athletes of the day in Mombasa.  The availability of the track and field facilities of the Mombasa Stadium also played a key part in the enhancement of these exceptional athletes.  I look back and often wonder what further sporting enrichment the appointment of such professional coaches in football, hockey and cricket may have brought to the naturally gifted of my time.  I know for one, the transformation infused following the appointment of Mr Joe Fernandes as the Sports Master of the Mombasa Goan School in the late 1940s/50s to Mombasa Goan sport in general.  That enlightened appointment led to the ‘Golden Years’ in the school’s sporting history.

Jack was a popular character in the Goan community because of his ability to make others around him laugh.  He was a gifted ‘Tiartrist’ (Konkani actor/playwriter) often taking the part of a Goan ‘Charlie Chaplin’, complete with the moustache, bowler hat, walking stick, suit and demeanour in the early days.

The last time I did see him was in 2001 at the Mombasa Goan Institute Centenary Celebrations.  During the week of celebrations, a day was set for stage performances.  Jack presented a Konkani play using one of the Goan Institute’s African staff members, who he had coached to respond in Konkani terms, expressions and mannerisms, alongside himself.  The audience were in stitches, as I was.  He had that touch of jollity, any day, anytime, anywhere.   


13.  John Mascarenhas ~ Coast Region Snooker Champion ~


John Mascarenhas

John Mascarenhas’ family were our close neighbours in Makadara.  He was just a little boy when I left Kenya in 1963.  I always wondered whatever had happened to their family after I left.  I was so pleased to have his younger brother Alleluia (Al), get in touch with me from Sydney when I started on the school project.  He filled me in with all their family news and shared the above picture of a dignified looking John.  Had I met John in the street, I would never have recognised him.  For that matter, neither would he me, with all the years that had gone by.

I was delighted to learn of John’s career development and accomplishments.  After school, he went on to do Teachers’ Training specialising in Maths, Science and Sports.  He taught at the Mombasa Sacred Heart School and the Allidina Visram High School.

In the course of my project, I was contacted in February 2019 by an ex-student of John Mascarenhas: Mahbub Gulamhussein, who jotted down the following memories of his time at the Sacred Heart School:

“……Good memories of 1978 to 1981 at the Sacred Heart High School.   Excellent performance Academically combined with victories in Inter-Schools.  Champions: boys’ and girls’ team in Hockey, Swimming, Cycling, Athletics.   The Young Farmers Club won the Coast and National Awards.  Science Congress participation.

Credit goes to Headmaster late Soares, late John Mascarenhas, Mr Shah who put in great effort and encouraged students to participate.  ……….. The school had excellent teachers e.g., Mr John Mascarenhas, Ms Aguiar, Mr Shah, Mr Thomas, Mrs Bhutto, Mr Kabiro, Mr Gitau, Mr Omar………….”

Mahbub, gives credit to the school’s teaching staff that included John Mascarenhas, who I gathered from others in the project, made a big impression on many of his former students.  Interesting to note from his recall that the school did continue to have a strong sporting tradition, as it did in my time, two decades earlier in, 1958.   John also played football for the Mombasa Falcon XI as we will see later.

I learnt from Al that John was elected “Sportsman of the Year” at the Mombasa Institute for a couple of years.  Also, that he was a Snooker Champion for the Coast Region and did receive an award, from the President of Kenya, Daniel Arap Moi, as per the photo below.  I am impressed by the personal accomplishments of that ‘little boy’ I used to know as John, playing around in the neighbourhood.

I am curious to want to know how and where he came to develop his love for Snooker.  The only two venues I knew, that had billiard saloons in my time, were the Mombasa Goan Institute and another private saloon, close to the Bristol Bar.  The latter was close to Makadara which we passed by daily on our way to and from church.  A regular there, was Alu De Souza’s older brother, Michael.

Late President Moi honouring 
John Mascarenhas

In reflecting about our young days in Makadara then, I am convinced that should the same higher educational opportunities, now available to our children and grandchildren out here in the west, had been available to us, our professional/occupational trajectories would have been quite different.  From my recall, higher education opportunities hardly existed in Mombasa, be it for boys, or girls, at that time.  When I finished in 1958, ‘Teachers’ Training’ was the only tertiary education college available in Mombasa then.   When it came to occupational opportunities, for boys, it was mainly Teaching, East African Customs & Excise, Railways & Harbours, Barclays Bank or African Marine.   For girls: Teaching, Secretarial, Administration or Sales Assistants.  It followed, that many of those with higher ambitions, had to travel abroad mostly, to avail of a wide range of career choice opportunities.  There were scarcely any careers advisors either, during my time in Mombasa.  Children of low-income backgrounds obviously lost out in terms of such a wide spectrum of professional and vocational choices possible.

14.  Mombasa Falcons Football Team

With membership of the Mombasa Goan Institute reserved for the ‘elite’ of the Goan community, many of our aspiring young sporting talent, who hailed from tailoring or low-income backgrounds, felt culturally and socially excluded.   It is in that scenario that a collective of young lads, mainly from Makadara, founded the ‘Falcons Football Team’.


In the context of this project, I received a note from one of my Makadara mates – Alu De Souza - who hails from a tailoring family, hinting how thoughts of that ‘community exclusion in Mombasa’ still rankles.  A gifted footballer, after finishing school, he together with my late, younger brother Albert, went on to become one of the co-founders of the Falcons Football Team, to harness the sporting aspirations of so many others, like themselves.  


Here is a poignant snippet from Alu’s note dated 02/01/2013 in my file.


[ “…… I often think about Albert, he was the one who chose the name ‘Falcons’ and your Mum stitched the emblem on our white shirts, but he was not alive to see his dream.  We knocked GI out of the Salus Cup.  We won by 1 goal.  They had all their top players, like Joe Gonsalves, Albert Castanha, Lucas Remedios etc. 

……. It was a turning point for Falcons.    …… We even had a hockey side that beat GI………. They would not let tailors become members” ………]



Albert Pereira

(Co-Founder of ‘Mombasa Falcons Football Team’)


Alu’s recall of that game, had shades of the ‘David and Goliath’ biblical story for me.  Joe Gonsalves, as we saw earlier was the renowned Mombasa Goan football ‘maestro’ in the 1950s/60s.   As noted earlier, he was my next-door neighbour in Makadara.   Joe was the best man at my wedding in Nairobi in 1967.  Albert Castanha, another truly outstanding Mombasa Goan sporting icon (excellent Goalkeeper ~ nicknamed ‘Black Panther’), was crowned the ‘Sportsman of the Century,’ by the Mombasa Goan Institute when it celebrated its centenary in 2001.   With the GI fielding such awe-inspiring names in their side, beating them, was indeed a notable victory for the young Falcons.   Hence, Alu’s elation.


My brother Albert, passed away in October 1963, in the Hospital do Ultramar in Lisbon, as a result of a tragic spinal injury, sustained in a swimming accident in Mtongwe.   Alu also mentions the ‘Falcons Hockey XI’ in Mombasa.  In the course of my work, I learnt, the late Kenya Hockey Olympian: Reynold Pereira played for them.

The two pictures below show the Mombasa Falcon Football Team.   Picture 1 shows the winners of the MDSA (Mombasa District Soccer Association) Disciplinary Cup in 1967.   That was a massive accomplishment for this young team when one considers that they were a group of random guys who got together to express their talents and love for football and invite others like them into the fold.  These included Tony Masky’s two older brothers: Cajetan and Julian and the earlier mentioned John Mascarenhas, who was their cousin.  

Here are some observations, worthy of note:  a) They did not have their own ground.  Neither did they have the backing of any formal ‘club structure’ to drive them on.  b) It was their passion for the sport and a collective spirit, that brought them into the limelight.  

c) The lads were from multi communities.  The Goan boys hailed from tailoring or other low-income backgrounds and I would expect, the others did too.  d) They did not have a ‘monied-sponsor/s to bankroll them’ to pay for their registration in the league or for expenses like their playing kit and travel.  I learnt that those of them who were in work, like Caje Mascarenhas /Albano Pereira helped out in that respect.   e)  Anyone, who has grouped eleven players for a match, will know what a challenge that can be to assemble a team which is dependent on factors like availability and fitness of individuals.     Bearing in mind too, the issue of communication.  Hardly anybody had telephones or cars in the home then.  I can just imagine, looking at the make-up of the team, the players would have come from different parts of Mombasa.  


Their achievements are commendable.





Picture 1 ~ Mombasa Falcons Football XI: Winners of MDSA Disciplinary Cup in 1967

Standing Left to Right:  John De Souza; Seby Da Silva; Robert De Souza; Ali; Alu De Souza; Abbas; Caje Mascarenhas

Front Row Left to Right: Victor De Souza; Bruno Da Cunha (Goalkeeper); Cuba; Clement De Souza; Kirit.



Picture 2 ~ Mombasa Falcons Football Team (1964/1965)

Standing Left to Right:  Julian Mascarenhas; Alu De Souza; Edward Pires; Clement De Souza; Isaac; Kirit

Front Row:  Victor De Souza; Caje Mascarenhas; Cuba; Bashir; John Mascarenhas


15. ‘Makadara’s Healing Aunty: Mercekan’ Mrs Magdalena De Souza

You wouldn’t believe it, we had our own ‘sports physio’ in Makadara, popularly known in the neighbourhood as ‘Aunty Mercekan’ – which means, lady from the village of Merces, in Goa.  She was the mother of our fellow playmate: Alu De Souza and renowned amongst the Goans, for her healing touch and herbal treatments.  In keeping with our Goan tradition, we used to address all our seniors as ‘Aunty or Uncle’.  This Aunty was a remarkable self-trained ‘Massage Therapist’, and I am speaking from personal experience.  Playing barefooted in a tight space on rough ground in Makadara, our bodies and limbs used to take no end of knocks and injuries.

If the injury was too painful and did not heal in a reasonable time, our first resort was to consult Aunty.  She was always obliging and had her own medicinal oil that she would massage soothingly.  Her very touch was therapeutic.  Like a medic, she would try and locate the source of the injury - vein, nerve, muscle, joint that needed attention.   On pinpointing the precise spot of pain/soreness/ tenderness ~ “Ouch!” ~ it would make us wince or jump.   Her trademark expression in Konkani at that point was: “Ich Thi Baba?  (Right here Son?)”.  Aunty would massage for a few days until the problem was seen to subside.

She was a motherly, loving lady, respected by all.   My brothers and I got treated by her, so many times, as did Joe Gonsalves, Jack Fernandes, Yes-Pea Pereira and many others.   Often, if our mothers discovered we were unwell, in pain or discomfort the first port of call was to ‘Aunty’ before seeing a doctor.  Apart from the medicinal oils she prepared her own herbal remedies for tummy upset, stomach pains, liver and kidney conditions and the like. She was renowned for the Goan treatment of ‘Jaundice’ known to us as ‘Kakoi’, which entailed hot branding of the inner lower arm.  This ‘exclusive’ Goan treatment was found to be more effective than doctors’ oral medication. 

Interestingly, in regard to ‘Kakoi’, here is a personal snippet that has stuck on my mind.  In the 1980’s, when we lived in High Wycombe in the UK, I received a phone call at home from an anonymous Asian- sounding lady caller, politely enquiring if I was a Goan.  When I said I was, she then confided that her husband was suspected of having jaundice.  They were a Hindu family formerly from Uganda, living in Berkshire and were aware from their time in East Africa that Goans had a treatment for jaundice and wanted to know if I knew anyone who would oblige in their case.   Unfortunately, all Goan seniors I knew, who may have obliged, had passed away and so I was not able to help.   However, I was curious to know how she did locate me.   She took a chance going through the telephone directory and when she came across the column for ‘Pereiras’, looked up the nearest address, which happened to be us!!!   How about that for a hit-and-miss?

With that healing touch, Aunty was central in our lives.  I remember she voluntarily helping to stay as a ‘night-nurse’, whenever my family members were hospitalised.   Likewise, she helped many of our Makadara families.  The very mention of ‘Mercekan’ triggers off so much loving nostalgia.  An Aunty, I will never forget.



16. ‘Mombasa Times/Coconut Oil Pereira’ ~ Anthony Joseph Pereira ~

AJ Pereira was my dear Dad who was popularly known under three titles:  a) Mombasa Times Pereira

b) Coconut Oil Pereira   c) ‘Balloon Uncle’. 


a) ‘Mombasa Times Pereira’:  Dad worked as a compositor at the Mombasa Times for over 36 years and was in a privileged position to knowing ‘the news’ before publications appeared on newsstands the next morning.  Something, we and our next-door neighbours, Joe Gonsalves/Walter Cardoso looked forward to, was advance copies of sports reports, ‘hot off the press’, scheduled to appear in next day’s edition.  It was usually when he came home around lunchtime, that he would bring reports on matches and athletics meetings.

I vividly remember the excitement that gripped all of Mombasa, when Seraphino Antao was competing in the Commonwealth Games in Perth in 1962 and went on to win two International Gold Medals for Kenya, for the very first time.  Although we knew the results from radio broadcasts on the day of the race itself, there was nothing like seeing the pictures and reading first-hand reports of the meetings, coming directly from Kenyan journalists in Australia.  And to receive them before the general public got to read them!!!

Likewise, when any of our Makadara mates like Joe Gonsalves, Walter Cardoso etc, featured in the news following a noteworthy sporting contest, my Dad would come home with an advance copy of the write-up.  Also, needless to say, we got a free copy of the Mombasa Times every day.

Another of my Dad’s privileges, fondly remembered by my younger generation Makadara friends, was getting them free entry for cinema shows.  Managers of all picture houses knew Dad personally. They all needed current and forthcoming shows, advertised daily, in the Mombasa Times and he was their contact at the publisher.  If there was an interesting film playing in town, he would take me and my brothers to the cinema house and after a word with the Manager, we would get entry to see the show, if there were vacant seats.  I recall seeing some of the blockbusters in my younger days, like Samson & Delilah; Ben Hur; Quo Vadis; The Greatest Story Ever Told; Tarzan; Sabu & the Lion etc.   Here is a snippet of an email received in June 2016 from Al Mascarenhas (brother of John Mascarenhas), who is now based in Sydney, in regard to my Dad and movies:

“…….. Our young days in Makadara were the most memorable years and we were all good neighbours.    The ladins, badminton, etc at your place and the Gonsalves’ house brings back memories.  I also remember your dad used to get MOVIE PASSES and as I was good friends with Menino and Eladio, they took me to the movies with them for free.  ……..”

Here is another delightful and hilarious recall of his Makadara days, from yet another younger friend: Pascal Mascarenhas, as recently as December 2020.  Pascal now lives in California:

“………. You will not know me, but our family is deeply grateful to yours for all the help provided during our time in Mombasa.  I remember fondly coming to pick up coconut oil from your house.  The ‘laidainia’ at your house continue to bring wonderful memories.  Your father’s gentle voice would cue the girls or the boys to join in the singing as he played the violin.   Wonderful memories!

Your dad unknowingly also bailed me out when I sneaked to watch Benhur in the cinema hall.  As a youngster (may be 10 years old) I had learnt to quietly enter the theatre without a ticket and head to the toilet.  Once inside and the lights were turned off, I came out and looked for a vacant seat.  Unfortunately, there were none as the show was sold out!  The usher noticed me and asked me if I was a Pereira boy and I said yes.  He proceeded to take me to the balcony and found me a seat.  Probably thought I was Eladio or Menino.   ……”

[Besides Tony and John, Pascal is from the third ‘Mascarenhas’ family from Makadara.  He is the younger brother of another of our schoolmate: Joseph Mascarenhas (Sucor) of Perth, Australia.  Due to the loss of the breadwinner in their family and being the oldest boy, Joseph left school early to take on employment at African Marine, where he went on to become a Master Welder.  I know of at least three other such cases at our school, of boys who had to abandon school early because of family circumstances.]


b) ‘Coconut Oil Pereira’:  Apart from working for the Mombasa Times, to supplement his income to support a family of 6 children, Dad had a ‘cottage industry’ kind of set-up, for selling coconut oil from home.  I never got round to establishing how this came about but presumably there is a connection between coconuts and his upbringing in Goa.  He was a self-made, enterprising individual who would never while away his time just sitting at home, even on a Sunday.  He had to keep occupied or be on the move.  His only leisure activity I recall, was rod-fishing at the Kilindini Docks on occasional Sundays, seated quietly on barges and reflecting on life in general.


Pereira’s Coconut Oil Label Mombasa 1950’s/1960’s


Here is a picture of an old label used on oil bottles.  It dates back to the 1950s which I have carefully preserved in my collection as memorabilia for our family history.

As Pascal remarked above, he fondly remembers coming to pick up coconut oil from our house as did another of our Goan School mates: Ben Da Costa from the Railway Quarters.  Ben remembers cycling to Makadara on his mother’s instructions, to buy coconut oil.  The oil was sold ready bottled and labelled.  The bottles were recycled empties of imported beer such as Amstel, St Pauli Girl and others.  I recall cycling to bars all over Mombasa: the Goan Institute Bar, A C De Souza’s Kilindini Bar, Colonial Bar, Bristol Bar, Regal Bar, or wherever, to purchase such empties.  The oil had multi-purpose uses, including cooking, for hair, soap manufacture, medicinal mixes, massaging.  As per our Goan tradition, many young mothers used to rub down their babies before their bath, to strengthen their limbs and as a conditioner for their tender skin.                

A couple of years before I finished school, Dad leased a warehouse/storeroom from the Rapoz family (several of their boys attended the Goan School too: Bento, Simon, Victor….) where the copra (dried coconut kernel) was stored and mechanically crushed for its oil.  That was close to the Railway Station and immediately behind Mombasa Engineering Works that was owned by the Ismaili Sangrar family (Shaukat Sangrar was my classmate). The bottling and labelling were done by my siblings and myself at home in Makadara.  Our flat concrete roof in Makadara, was ideal for the drying of the split coconut halves, to facilitate the ease of scooping-out the copra from the shell.  There was always a hired ‘hamali cart’ outside our home to transport the copra, oil and bottles, to-and-fro. 

Coconut oil was much sought after by the Goan community in East Africa because of that close traditional connection that hailed from Goa.  We see that historical link too in the Mombasa Goan Institute’s logo that depicts two coconut trees.  I recall, whenever there were Goan visitors to Mombasa from upcountry like Nairobi or Uganda, often there were two ‘must-have’ items they wished to take back: a) Mombasa Halwa and b) Pereira’s Coconut Oil.

What happened to that business?   Sadly, on 3rd January 1963, my younger brother Albert sustained a serious swimming-related spinal injury that saw him hospitalised for 10 long months that year, before he passed away in Lisbon on 12th October.  I had accompanied him for treatment in Portugal.  His accident and death devastated and fragmented our family.  Furthermore, that being the same year of Kenyan Independence and all the ensuing unsettling uncertainties it brought to the Asian community, I found myself move to the UK for higher education on a Gulbenkian Foundation bursary.    My parents moved to Lourenco Marques in Mozambique with my two youngest siblings for a few years, before returning to Goa.  The brand name, “Pereira’s Coconut Oil” continued in the hands of an Asian business family, I discovered.  Although the East African Goan community is greatly depleted now, I found out the branded oil is now used by native Africans for cosmetics and for straightening their hair.

c) ‘Balloon Uncle’:  Without fail, every Christmas, after the 6am Mass, Dad had an ‘obligatory task’ he had to accomplish before lunch.  His pockets laden with balloons, he would visit Goan homes all around Mombasa, where there were little children.  These were people we knew in Makadara, Mnazi Moja, Ganjoni, Makupa and wherever.  He would hand every ecstatic child a balloon.  And as these children were growing up, they would wait anxiously for the ‘Balloon Uncle’, every Christmas.  Having brought joy and fun into one home, he would move on to the next and so on.  He had a well laid out plan in his mind as to the sequence of homes to call at.   This endeared him greatly to so many ‘young ones’ then, that that loving gesture is still remembered to this day. 

Dad’s keen interest in our young people was further exemplified by another act he is well remembered for.   If he were aware of any of our Goan youngsters looking out for work, he would use his ‘Mombasa Times’ influence, to put in a word on their behalf, to traders and businesses that consulted him for advertising.  He helped several girls and boys in this context.  He placed a couple of girls with the popular Mombasa retail store: Fatheli Dalla and boys into printing establishments, I know of.  What better than personal recommendation?  Perhaps, because he had 6 children himself, he always had an encouraging word for our young people.  When he returned to Goa, children in Navelim got to know him as “Good Morning Uncle”.  The reason?  He would stand out in the veranda watching the children go to school every morning and address them: “Good Morning Children”.

17.  Our Amazing Bulbul

Here is a light-hearted piece to wrap up this chapter on our life in Makadara.  As boys, if we were not at home or school, in all probability, we were in the church grounds engaged in Legion of Mary activities or playing at the Stella Maris Club.   The church had vast grounds with trees, fruit groves and a deep quarry, would you believe?  Enough to interest and excite us, into our own boys-world of ‘discoveries, explorations and adventures’.  We encountered birds, bats, rock lizards (burkenge) and fruit trees: papaya, tangerines, custard apples, mangoes and berries (borams).  Those of us who played on the Stella Maris Ground cannot forget the quarry, bang alongside, spanning the full length of the pitch.  Often our ball would drop into the 8/9 feet deep quarry during play, requiring one of the players to scramble down and retrieve it before the game resumed again.

That quarry is where the coral building blocks used in the construction of the Holy Ghost Church, were cut out from.  I remember, whilst we played football on the field, our school ‘Boy Scouts Troop’ used to assemble weekly in that quarry – complete with flag post, Union Jack and all.  In my time, the troop included the Vianna brothers, my classmates: Joseph Rocha, Abdul Rahim, Abdul Wahid and others, all smartly dressed in their boy scout uniform, cap, scarf plus staff in hand.  The scouts assembled at the Masonic Lodge-end of the quarry and weren’t in the least bothered or troubled by the football game ‘above’ them.   The other end of the quarry, Patrisi, the sacristan of the church, utilised as his shamba allotment, growing sweet potato, cassava and the like.  Former altar servers have fond memories of this mild, meek and friendly man.

On a bright day, my brother and I came across a Bulbul fledgling that had just flown out of its nest and struggled to fly back.   We took it home and nurtured it to full maturity, feeding it bananas and papaya.  We and our Makadara-mates had a tuneful signature whistle that we used, to call out one another.  There was no need of knocking on the door to call us.  On hearing that whistle, we knew that a mate is outside and would come out to meet him.  If we needed a few more minutes, we would whistle back.  It was a kind of a 2-way communication.  It worked perfectly for us to summon one another, during our young days, be it: Tony Masky, Henry, Alu, or whoever.

Our walk to the Goan School in Ganjoni from Makadara, was a fair distance.   Often, friends would call at our home to join us as companions for that walk.   One morning, there was a signature whistle and a reply came from the house.   The mate outside waited patiently for a couple of minutes and whistled again.  Again, there was acknowledgement from the house.   With no sign of movement and waiting impatiently outside, he whistled a third time and got a reply back.   At that point, my Mum realised that someone was outside and went to the door, only to find Henry waiting restlessly.   She had to point out that we have all left for school.  “But I heard whistles back”, said Henry.  “Ah! That was the Bulbul” explained my Mum.   That clever bird had learnt to mimic our whistle!!  Henry had to ‘sprint’ to get to school in time!!!

The Bulbul is a colourful bird found in Africa and Asia.  Below is a picture of the Kenyan variety.  Its defining feature is the yellow under its tail.  Here in the UK, a bird song that reminds me of the Bulbul is the Blackbird, slightly larger but with an equally delightful chorus, heard from March to August.

That was the chapter of my life in Makadara, birdsong and all.


A Kenyan Bulbul (Photo Andrew Jarwick)





By Marci Pereira

Project: ‘Archiving Memories of Mombasa Goan School’

Email: <>

                                                                        April 2021      

1 comment:

  1. Dear Marci, I read your article"Makadara cradle of Mombasa Goan sport" with interest. It is really going down memory lane for all connected to Mombasa. The wedding photo of Anselm and Angelina Monseratte at the steps of Holy Ghost Church mombasa,1958 drew my attention. Is this the same Monseratte who retired from Barclays Bank Nkurumah Road in the Eighties? father to Braz and Clyde? I remember him as old school gentle man. Used to share an occasional pint with him and chit chat about the old days. I attended his funeral at the same church when he passed away. Thank you. Regards.



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