2008-08-11 19:29:19 UTC
From Lisbon to TorontoPart I
Being at the Toronto Convention was a most enjoyable experience for many reasons. I was not sure I would be able to make it since I was in India on work for 2 weeks immediately prior to the Convention. But we thought it would be important for Casa de Goa (in Lisbon) to be present since, after all, the process began there.
And I am really glad I made it!
The message from Casa de Goa to the Toronto Convention is self-explanatory and I post it here because in some ways it addresses the issues that have been floating around.
"It is my great pleasure to bring you warmest greetings from Casa de Goa in Lisbon, in particular from the President, Prof. Narana Coissoro, who deeply regrets not being here, as well as from the other members of the Managing Board and all the associates. In spirit they are here sharing the sense of togetherness and of a common commitment to Goa and to the reception countries where goan communities have carved a place and a role for themselves.
When we decided to host the 1st Convention a year ago, in Lisbon, we hoped that there would be a continuation of the celebration of our individual and collective achievements and that someone else would carry the torch. We were therefore very happy when Kevin and Lisette Saldanha offered to do so. Their promise was our guarantee ? the rest, organisational details, programme, etc. would come later. And it did!
I was just looking at some photos of the Lisbon Convention recently and I realised that 2 of those photos pointed to the future ? the group of very young violinists who during the closing ceremony, filled a few eyes with tears when they interpreted a verse of our very beautiful mand? Sontos bhogt? r? jivak? and another photo of all our participants from aboard with the Saldanhas in the first row, a few moments before the conclusions were read and the responsibility had been passed on.
If the theme for the Lisbon Convention ? From Goa into the World set the context for a celebration of our achievements, the theme of the Toronto Convention ? Goan Identity and Networking Today builds on them to further pursue our quest for an ever changing Goan identity that also takes on board the aspirations of our children in a globalized world where the notion of identity no longer conforms to place of birth or culture of origin.
Certainly this is not the place for a debate on the notion of ethnicity and of its different indicators. We are aware that there are different opinions on this sensitive issue but we think it would be relatively easy to accept that the Goan communities in the diaspora are groups that often share a national identity, but preserve specific cultural traditions, norms and references, that are distinct from those of the reception country.
We are deeply convinced that such cultural identity has to be cherished in order to reinforce the sense of individuality of our children understood in John Blacking?s definition as a "consequence of sharing with others, in a variety of social and emotional situations, experiences derived from capabilities that are common to the species, such as the abilities to feel joy, sadness and excitement, to categorize, to abstract and transform, to speak a language and to learn and transmit skills".
In Casa de Goa, we have been striving to cherish our identity and to make our children proud of their Goan heritage through music as a symbolic element of representation and cultural reconstruction that will hopefully remain an element of cohesion. We know other Goan Associations have been using other tools. The important message is that our children need to be aware of their heritage before they can become proud of it and to be part of the process of culture in the making in the countries where they live.
Networking capacity is one of the reasons we are here today. It is so much easier to be in contact and to exchange opinions, ideas, facts and mutual concerns about Goa and ourselves. At Casa de Goa we continue to be ready to be part of networking in the diaspora and to put our skills at the service of the global Goan community. We hope to strengthen our ties with other Associations during this week and we look forward to working together with all of you in the future.
Casa de Goa is the house of all Goans and their friends in Lisbon and therefore we wish to offer all of you a standing invitation to visit us".
For those of you who are interested in reading some more about the objectives, the participants and the programme of the Lisbon Convention, you are welcome to go to www.casadegoa.org and look up the information on the Convention of the Goan Diaspora.
In order to set the record straight, I need to go back to last year.
I was sitting by the computer regretting that we had not been able to convince anyone from Canada or from Australia to come to Lisbon. Knowing what huge Goan communities live in both countries, it was a setback. We were very glad of the final confirmation that a number of young participants from Goa (Wendell Rodricks, Jason Keith Fernandes, Clinton Vaz, Ethel da Costa and Chandan Bandekar) would be attending and that all of them were prepared either to make presentations (the first three) or to organise a painting exhibition with the contributions of young contemporary Goan painters (the last two). It was just then that I received an e-mail from Kevin and wrote back immediately that he and Lisette were most welcome to join us which they did.
Like other participants, they paid an enrolment fee and took care of their expenses.
It was part of the objectives of the Lisbon Convention to carry the process further and not to loose the momentum and the very strong ties that had been forged among representatives of so many communities in the diaspora. We had not taken any decision on whether it should be an individual or an association; it did not seem important at the time because any association would be represented by one or more individuals anyway and it would be up to them to garner the support of the other associations in their country.
In our understanding (as I wrote to Eugene on the 1st of August in reply to a direct query from him) Kevin and Lisette were given the opportunity to host the 2008 Convention simply because they offered to do so. In fact, as referred to in the memorandum of understanding before the conclusions in Lisbon "Kevin and Lisette Saldanha, on behalf of the Goanetters Association of Toronto, have expressed their intention of coordinating the various organisations that will participate in the next Convention of the Goan Diaspora, in Canada, in 2008, the significance being the 20th anniversary of the international convention held in that country, in 1988".
Therefore, Casa de Goa was very glad to have the torch carried by Kevin, Lisette, the GNAT and whoever else would be part of the effort and support the Convention in any capacity.
Let me come back to the present and to the reasons for the success of the Toronto Convention. I will not go into a detailed description not only because I arrived at the end of the 1st day but because others have already done so much better than I could have done.
Because of the late arrival I did not attend the workshops. I did sit for a while in Victor?s creative writing workshop where everyone was most interested in defining what the horse said to the bear when they both met in the forest (and from the very creative lines of dialogue that came from participants, I can assure you there was a lot of imagination, humour, and literary talent in that room, and environmental concerns too! I also did hear of how much fun and "inside" designer?s information there was for participants in Wendell?s workshop, and of his charm as well!
Virginia Bras Gomes
(to be followed)
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