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PIO GAMA PINTO

INDEPENDENT KENYA’S FIRST

MARTYR

 


 

Reproduced from the book

PRINTED
IN EAST AFRICA
BY
PRINTCRAFT
P.O. Box 355
NAIROBI
February 1966


 

CONTRIBUTORS


 

Biography
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PIO GAMA PINTO
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.


 

General Politics
by Oginga Odinga, Vice-President of KenyaN0 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 was forthcoming.

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Visiting the Koinange Family in restriction in Kabarnet. 
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.

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Jaramogi Oginga Odinga, the Vice-President at the funeral. Mrs. Emma Pinto is on his left
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.