Consul general pays tribute to freedom fighters’ role in reforming Portugal too


PANJIM, April 3: In a touching tribute coming in the 50th year of the end of Portuguese colonial rule in Goa, the Consul-General of Portugal has praised freedom fighters whom, he said, helped Portuguese society itself understand their “wrongdoings” elsewhere in the globe.

Dr. António José Marques Sabido Costa, the new Consul-General of Portugal in Goa, was speaking in the context of the launch of a book on Aquino de Braganca, a Goan who played a prominent role in the liberation struggle of Mozambique and a string of other African countries.

Speaking in Panjim late Saturday evening, the Consul-General said “As a Portuguese, I’m also indebted to him in a different way. It was persons like Aquino Braganca, who helped the Portuguese society to understand better all the wrongdoings we were doing in certain countries, and he helped us realise that we needed to change our official policy and fight for a democracy ourselves.”

Portugal, of all European countries, was a dictatorship in for much of the 20th century, till 1974. It hung on to its colonies long after the British, French and Dutch gave up on theirs. Goa celebrates the 50th anniversary of the end of Portuguese rule this year, following an Indian army action in 1961.

Sabido Costa recalled that the anti-colonial fight brought democratisation to Portugal itself in 1974.

“In a way, Aquino de Braganca helped us Portuguese realise that we also need to change, and for that reason as a Portuguese, I’m very happy to be here,” he said at the a function which saw rich tributes paid to a Goan who fought for liberation in Africa, and was killed in a plane crash with President Samora Machel in 1986.

Goa NRI Commissioner and former federal minister Eduardo Faleiro praised the Consul General’s comments, saying: “This is the spirit. Let bygones by bygones, but let us recognise that something was wrong with the colonial system.”

Faleiro noted that power leads one to oppress those who are weaker. He added: “It happened yesterday in the West, it’s happening today in the
West. It may happen tomorrow in this part of the world. I greatly appreciate what you have said: truth and reconciliation, that is the spirit.”

He noted that colonial times were “difficult” both in the colonies and in the colonial centre. “Our entire political activity — including Tristao Braganca Cunha and Purshottam Kakodkar — had to function from places like Bombay. They were part of the diaspora, in a manner of speaking,” he said.

Faleiro announced a conference on the end of colonial role five decades ago, and the contribution of diasporic communities.

Noted literateur Dr Maria Aurora Couto praised Aquino Braganca as “a very important hero in my panetheon of heroes for many many years.” She said this was not only because of his role in the Mozambiquan struggle, but because “he combined a life of the mind, with political activism.”

She praised him for his extraordinary intellectual honesty, which is currently “lacking in all our politicians” and extremely humble, humane point of view.

Campaigner Miguel Braganza, a relative of Aquino, said his radical politics had at one time led him to be spoken of in “hushed tones” in the family, but he had subsequently proven to be an inspiration for all who believe they are working for the good of society.

Silvia Braganca, author of the book and widow of Aquino, offered her reminiscences of his life, and explained his involvement with the great figures of the African liberation struggle. Historian Prajal Sakhardande said the book fulfilled a long need and dream of the author.

The book is published by Goa,1556 priced at Rs 350 locally and available for sale via mail order at goa1556@gmail.com

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