In a rare tribute coming in the 50th year of the end of Portuguese colonial rule in Goa, Consulate General of Portugal in Goa Dr. António José Marques Sabido Costa praised the efforts of the freedom fighters that have helped Portuguese society itself understand their ‘wrongdoings’ elsewhere in the globe.
He 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.”
The new Consulate General of Portugal in Goa was speaking in the context of the launch of a book on Saturday on Aquino de Braganca, a Goan who played in prominent role in the liberation struggle of Mozambique and a string of other African countries.
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 Operation Vijay, an Indian army action in 1961.
He recalled that the anti-colonial fight brought democracy 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.
Goa NRI Commissioner and former federal minister Eduardo Faleiro praised the Consulate General’s comments, saying: “This is the spirit. Let bygones be 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.