By : Mr. Mario Rebello

One's culture is too deeply linked with one's language. One's language is the barometer of one's culture. If one knows one's language well, then one can know one's own culture well. One can never reach into the sea of eternal understanding through somebod y else's mother tongue. By throwing a shadow over ones own mother tongue one can never expose one's true culture. One's mother tongue is like a soul of one's body. Without a soul the body is dead and without a language one's culture is dead. Wherever Goan s went for greener pastures the first thing they did was to organize Goan organizations to protect their material and other benefits. Fine, this is the need of the hour but never ever expatriate Goans thought of protecting Goan culture in its true sense.< BR>
In view of this on 30th November 1984 finally "KUWAIT KONKNNI KENDR" was formed. Probably for the first time in the history of expatriate Goans, the Goa conscious Goans in Kuwait formed this organization to help protect and promote Goan culture bec ause it is only through Konkani that Goan culture is protected This organization was formed with the initiative of Mr. Anthony Veronica Fernandes who prior to the formation of Kuwait Konknni Kendr created a strong awakening among Kuwait Goans for t he need of Konkani protection and promotion. As a journalist, he wrote exhaustively in local and Goan newspapers in English and Konkani in support of Konkani. In the beginning very many Goans were ashamed to embrace Konkani openly inspite of having lot of deficiencies in foreign languages especially English. Incidentally the Goans who were neglecting Konkani were intellectually bankrupt, some of them were even making mockery of those who were on the forefront in the promotion of Konkani awakening.

After the liberation of Goa the genuine Goans with genuine Goan parentage wanted special status for Goa under the Union of India, i.e. separate state. In order to get separate statehood for Goa it was imperative to have Goan language because Indian state s were formed and demarcated on the basis of languages – one language one state. So what is the language of Goa? Konkani ! Yes, it is Konkani. So fight for the cause of Konkani first, to get separate identity of statehood for Goa and second, what was mo re important, was to protect the Goan culture. Konkani is the only aspect of Goans whereby Goans can prove their Goan identity and only through Konkani Goans can project their heritage, history, folklore etc.

Kuwait Konknni Kendr was formed by a few staunch lovers of Goan culture and Goan life namely: Alexinho Fernandes (Maxem), Tarquinho D'Souza (Vasco), Elvino Rodrigues (Navelim) Mario Rebello (Panjim) John Felix D'Souza (Anjuna), Evaristo Fernandes (Pombur pa) Anthony Veronica Fernandes (Candolim), Luis B. Cardozo (Guirim), Oscar Gomes (Margao), Diogo A. D'Souza (Tivim), Cajetan Pereira (Sanvordem), Xavier Dias (Margao) and Alex Martins (Taleigao). Since the inception of Kuwait Konknni Kendr, lot of activi ties have been conducted in the promotion and in support of Konkani such as in 1986, for the first time in the history of Gulf Goans a Mando Festival was organized in one of the 5 Star Hotels, Hotel Meridien, free of charge, the entire expenditure for th is was borne by all the above named members of Kuwait Konknni Kendr. The entire proceedings were conducted in Konkani to the extent that even the Chief Guest Second Secretary Embassy of India Mr. Awadani, himself a "Konkanni" delivered his speech in Konk ani. Within 2 years the second All Kuwait Mando Festival was organized in greater magnitude where the winners and children group were awarded with gold medals. Then Kuwait Konknni Kendr gave Rs. 10,000/- as donation to Fr. Antonio Pereira SJ to print hi s masterpiece – book – on the collection of Konkani Proverbs – known as "Konknni Voparinchem Bhanddar". Then Kuwait Konknni Kendr donated Rs. 25,000.00 to Thomas Stephens Konknni Kendr – Miramar, Goa. to publish Konkani books for primary st udents of Konkani. This amount was the proceeds from the All Kuwait second Mando Festival. When the language campaign needed a final booster, Kuwait Konknni Kendr assured on behalf of all Kuwaitkars full financial backing for the final phase of Konkani v ictory and on the assurance of this, our brothers and sisters in Goa went all out in organizing mass movement in Panjim with the financial backing in lakhs of rupees sent not only by Kuwait Konknni Kendr but also other organizations and individuals. As a matter of interest, in order to show its genuine support, Kuwait Konknni Kendr specially deputed its founder member Mr. Anthony Veronica Fernandes to Goa to Physically participate in the agitation for the cause of Konkani wherein Mr. Veronica not only took active part in public rallies and meetings in Panjim but also participated in hunger strike at Azad Maidan in Panjim. This is the first time in the history of expatriate Goan that an expatriate Goan has openly conducted hunger strike in support of greater cause of Goa and Goans i.e. Konkani. It was mainly due to the financial patronage of Kuwaitkar that Konkani movement in Goa came to a successful end and as an evidence to this, Mr. Nagesh Karmali, the President of Goa Freedom Fighters As sociation and one of the leaders of Konkani movement in one of his speeches at T. B. Cunha Hall Panjim, 3 years back stated " Goyant amche laguim kuddichem boll aslem pun duddvanchem boll zai aslem tem fokot Kuwaitkaram lagchean ailem ani Kuwaitakara ni duddvanchem boll dilem mhonnonuch Konknnichem zoit zalem". During the Konkani language agitation leading to the conferment of statehood on Goa, 7 Konkani Martyrs laid down their lives for the cause of Konkani, they were all poor. When request cam e to help their family members, Kuwait Konknni Kendr organized one of the biggest campaigns and collected over a lakh of rupees and sent to Goa which were distributed to the martyrs families in the presence of one of the members of Kuwait Konknni Kendr. In order to give a booster to Konkani, Kuwait Konknni Kendr established a Scholarship for any SSC student of Goa scoring highest number of marks in Konkani subject. Also, Kuwait Konknni Kendr established the Gulab Award for the best Konkani write r. Besides, Kuwait Konknni Kendr gave a lot of donations for a very many activities for the promotion and support of Konkani cause including assistance extended to various individuals to publish their Konkani Novels. Recently, Kuwait Konknni Kendr took an other step of honoring Konkani protagonists such as Mr. Alfred Rose and Mr. M. Boyer both the Konkani Tiatrists who have done so much for the cause of Konkani, one of them Mr. M. Boyer was the recipient of the Goa State "KALA ACADEMY AWAR D" and of another prestigious National Award "SANGEET NATAK ACADEMY AWARD" which was presented to him in New Delhi by the President of India Dr. Shankar Dayal Sharma. During their recent visits to Kuwait, Kuwait Konknni Kendr organized two dif ferent functions to honor these Konkani stalwarts by presenting both of them with Gold Medals and Citation Letters.

The biggest contribution Kuwait Konknni Kendr did for the Konkani cause was to help Novem Goem Daily, the only Konkani Daily established by Goans from the peoples donations. From Kuwait only about 5 lakhs of rupees were collected and sent to Nov em Goem Pratishtan – a trust formed for the running of Novem Goem Daily. About one and half lakh of rupees were collected entirely by the Kuwait Konknni Kendr through lottery coupons sold to Konkani lovers in Kuwait and the remaining lakhs were collec ted through the efforts of "Novem Goem Pratishtan Kuwait Somitti" – a committee formed only to promote this particular cause of Novem Goem Daily, this committee was entirely backed by active support of Kuwait Konknni Kendr members prior to the bir th of Kuwait Konknni Kendr, as a matter of interest NGPKS was initiated by none other than the initiator of Konkani moment in Kuwait, Mr. Anthony Veronica Fernandes. Infact, he has mobilized the entire Konkan population in Kuwait to rise to the occ asion and support the Konkani cause at its every needy times through his provocative and awakening articles in the news media as well as vocal publicity.

To do all these activities where does the money comes from? Yes, with the exception of 3 events as mentioned above – i.e. The 2nd All Kuwait Mando Festival, Konkani Martyrs Fund and Novem Goem fund – all other events were financed purely by the Kuwait K onknni Kendr executive body members as named above some of whom are no more in Kuwait. Kuwait Konknni Kendr has its own constitution and guidelines for its functioning. One of the important aspects is to be prepared to contribute at any time ones own mone y for the Konkani cause. Secondly, not to directly involve in other organizations especially those whose record is tainted with fund embezzlement. Thirdly, to be a member of Kuwait Konknni Kendr working body, one has to be intellectually high with genuine love for Konkani and Goa.

Kuwait Konknni Kendr holds its regular meetings to chalk out programmes. The decisions are taken collectively. Kuwait Konknni Kendr has no president nor Chairman, it has its own Politburo of decision making which is headed by Joint Secretaries.

P.O. Box 23365 Safat,
13094 Safat KUWAIT

Motto : " Ekvottan Mog Vaddom "

Tel :
(965) 434 5362 Mr. Elvino Rodrigues
(965) 241 3634 Mr. Anthony Veronica Fernandes
(965) 476 4113 Mr. Mario Rebello

E-Mail : Mario Rebello