2009-04-08 18:02:41 UTC
Fitz De Souza, former deputy Speaker of
the Kenyan parliament, says Goans formed the "backbone" of
the British colonial administration in East Africa, and
suggested they could have been more critical of White
colonialism in the 'dark continent'.
Speaking here during a function last weekend, the Kenyan
lawyer and ex-politician, said, "You may not like what I'm
going to say. But Goans in fact were the backbone of the
British administration" in East Africa.
"Britain could not have ruled Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania without
the Goans. The Chief Secretary and Cabinet were only
Europeans, the district commissioners were from Oxford or
Cambridge. But the army of clerks -- from district clerks, to
prison clerks and law clerks -- came from Goa," he said.
"They had a lot of power in that country. Anybody could not
open a shop or get a gun license without a Goan's approval,"
He criticised the British for their "complete racism", and
said it was they who planted the idea that "Goans are not
Indians, but Portuguese" and that "Indians were crooks and
thieves" while the Goans were honest.
"Unfortunately, many Goans believed in that," said Fitz
Remedios Santana de Souza (born 1929, Mumbai), often known as
Dr. F. R. S. de Souza.
Souza, who made these comments at the International Centre
Goa during a Friday evening function, was an important figure
in the campaign for independence for Kenya, a member of the
Kenyan parliament in the 1960s and Deputy Speaker for several
He helped provide a legal defence for those accused of Mau
Mau activities, and he was one of the people involved in the
Lancaster House conferences held to draw up a constitutional
framework for Kenyan independence.
Born to a Goan family in Mumbai, de Souza lived in Zanzibar
before settling in Kenya in 1942. Fitz de Souza took a first
degree in England and trained as a barrister at Lincoln's Inn.
As a young man in 1952 he joined a team of lawyers from
various Commonwealth countries, lawyers educated in England
but not born there, defending Kenyans accused of Mau Mau
activities by the British colonial administration, in a
series of trials including that of Jomo Kenyatta.
Feelings in the country were running high, with some settlers
of European ancestry disrupting any legal process for people
they considered assassins, while other people in Kenya were
convinced of bad faith amongst those involved in the
all-white British prosecution.
In this atmosphere, de Souza and an Asian colleague faced
implied allegations of 'encouraging' defendants to criticise
police witnesses, but judges at the East African Court of
Appeal supported them, praising their assistance to the court.
For part of the 1950s Fitz de Souza was studying for a PhD at
the London School of Economics and was politically active
both there and in Kenya. His doctoral thesis was on "Indian
Political Organization in East Africa" (1959).
He knew Kenyatta and was a major figure in the movement
towards an independent Kenya. He has been described during
this period both as a "freedom fighter" and as someone
"organiz[ing] Africans and Asians against the colour bar",
according to online tributes to Souza.
In the early 1960s he was a legal adviser at the Lancaster
House conferences in London where Kenyatta and the Kenyans
worked with the UK Colonial Secretary, Reginald Maudling, and
his team to develop a constitution for the country.
De Souza was an elected member of the Kenyan Parliament even
before full independence in 1963, and Deputy Speaker of the
Lower House from June 1963. He left this post in 1970, spent
many years in private practice, and is now semi-retired.
Souza has been quoted saying in a Pulitzer prize-winning book
written by Caroline Elkins that he believed at least one
hundred thousand Kikuyu disappeared at the time of Mau Mau,
in "a form of ethnic cleansing on the part of the British