Further to Alfredo de Mello's response to Teotonio de Souza's "Madeira"

Some Christian Goans trying hard to deny their Lusitanian Heritage


Ben Antao

When I read Teotonio's  Madeira piece, I immediately thought of Alfredo de Mello and his book on Colon and the 25-page presentation on Colon he had sent me and which I had read. I was waiting for Alfredo to clarify the Zarco origin and am pleased he has done so.

I am not a history buff but I am open-minded to understand that history is written by the victors.

A similar disquieting trend is occurring about Goa and its past. So many so-called educated Christian Goans are now coming out and saying how their roots go well into the distant past of pre-Portuguese Goa, to the Hindu origin, but not as much to the Moslem origin. Of course, these Goans are free to be either Hindus or Moslems.

But this is the crux of the nature of identity. You know that the British first came to the U.S. via the Mayflower ship and landed in Boston in the 1600's. Since then the Americans have evolved their way of life, and their culture is uniquely American. Now would the today's American ever say his culture is not American, but British? No way.

Similarly, in Canada which was founded in the 1500's and settled in the 1600s. There's such a thing called Canadian culture and I can identify it after having lived in Toronto for more than 32 years. The Canadian culture is distinct from either British or French, both of whom have influenced it, as well as from American which continues to influence it.

Similarly, the Goan culture influenced by the Portuguese domination in terms of religion, education, language, and way of life, cannot be simply denied.

Of course, religion has become taboo for a significant segment of modern generation of Goans and some of them want no part of anything to do with the Portuguese. It's their choice of course.

But if you want to understand the Goan psyche, you want to contend with the long era of the Portuguese and understand its influence, whether you like it or not.

I had not intended to write this long a comment but culture and history are related.

Ben Antao
August 15, 1999

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