Pio Gama Pinto – Independent Kenya’s first martyr

PIO 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 and exploitation.

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.