IN EAST AFRICA
P.O. Box 355
GAMA PINTO was born in Nairobi on 31st March, 1927. At the age of eight he was sent to India for his education and spent the next nine years there. He studied Arts for two years before joining the Indian Air Force in 1944 for a short time. When only 17 years of age he started agitating against the system which kept so many people of Goa in poverty. When he took up, a job in the Posts and Telegraphs Company in Bombay, he enthusiastically took part in a general strike and got his first glimpse of mass action and organisation. He was a founder member of the Goa National Congress whose aim was to liberate Goa from Portuguese rule.
His activities-in Bombay against the Portuguese made it imperative for him to leave India in order to avoid being arrested.
In 1949 he returned to Kenya
and after a succession of clerical jobs became involved in the
local. politics aimed at overthrowing colonialism. He turned
to journalism and worked with the Colonial Times and the Daily
Chronicle. In 1954, 5 months after his marriage, he was rounded
up in the notorious Operation Anvil and spent the next four years
in detention on Manda Island with the so called "hard-core"
Mau Mau. He was kept in restriction from early 1958 until October
1959 at remote Kabarnet. On his release he once more immersed
himself in the struggle for Kenya's Independence and the Release
of Jomo Kenyatta. In 1960 he founded the KANU newspaper "Sauti
Ya KANU" and later Pan African Press of which he subsequently
became Director and Secretary.
He worked ceaselessly in the
1961 Elections to make KANU victorious.
In 1963 Mr. Pinto was elected
as Member of the Central Legislative Assembly and in July of the
following year a Specially Elected Member of the House of Representatives.
In 1964 he worked late hours to establish the Lumumba Institute which was principally to train Party Officials, He was a member of the Board of Governors and took keen interest in its functions.
He kept in close touch with
African liberation movements, and assisted whenever he could.
He was a delegate to a meeting in Delhi of nationalists from
all Portuguese Colonies to plan the liberation of these colonies.
A year later he was once again invited to Delhi for the celebration
to mark the liberation of Goa. In 1963 he attended a conference
of progressive and militant journalists in Algeria called by
the International Organisation of Journalists. In September
1965, Mrs. Emma Gama Pinto was invited to Santiago, Chile, to
receive a posthumous prize awarded to her husband by the International
Organisation of Journalists for his contribution in journalism
to the liberation of African countries from foreign domination
At the time of his assassination,
his eldest daughter Linda was just 6 years of age, the second,
Malusha was 4½ years and the youngest,
Tereshka, only 1½ years of age.
description of the
history of Kenya would be complete without an assessment of Pio
Gama Pinto's contribution to our struggle.
Pio, was a solid Kenyan patriot.
His assassination leaves a gap in our struggle for complete freedom
that few men - none that I know - can fill.
I first met Pio in 1952 when
we were at the height of our struggle. He was then working with
the E.A. Indian National Congress and in his own fashion
trying to break the pattern of their narrow, perspective in order
for that community to participate in our bitter struggle to throw
off colonial domination. Anyone who met Pio soon forgot his pigmentation
because his words and deeds left no doubt that he was a Kenyan
nationalist. He had immense organisation powers and ceaselessly
went around bridging all gaps in our defences as our own people
were pulled away into detention camps or prison cells. He petitioned
his solicitor friends to take up political cases when no money
When the men in the forest
required support he sent money and arms secretly. He knew the
consequences if he was caught in these fields of activity - detention
or even death - but nothing could stop him. In 1954 the authorities
apprehended him and he spent the next six years out of the political
scene in detention camps. Immediately upon his release he threw
himself into the political arena. Once more in Nairobi, he found
hundreds of widows and orphans of his comrades who had perished
in the struggle. Many of us surged on only with Independence
as our goal. Pio found time for the suffering women and children
and collected money, clothing and food for them. Dr. Yusuf Eraj
was swamped with sick women and children sent by Pio. Few people
know that because of his immense admiration for Mr. Pinto, this
medical practitioner received no fees for many years.
Pio threw himself into helping
KANU win the 1961 elections, into founding our independent press,
into the campaign for Federation, into the struggle against
imperialism, and the liberation of Portugal's colonies. He assisted
refugees from South Africa, Mozambique and Angola to find their
way to other countries where they could organise resistance movements.
As a member of the Central
Legislative Assembly and Member of Parliament, Pio showed his
brilliance in a quiet way. Pio was a dedicated and intelligent
socialist, and worked for Kenya to advance its social and economic
system for the benefit of the masses.
Lumumba had been murdered
in the course of his heroic activities; so was Pio. Who were
his enemies if he were such a genuine patriot? It could
only be the forces that knowingly or unwittingly are helping imperialism
keep a grip on Kenya, those who have sacrificed the national advance
to parochial or personal interests.