Antonio Rudolfo Jose Pio Gama Pinto was born on 31 March 1927.

31 March 1927 - 24 February 1965


Antonio Rudolfo Jose Pio Gama Pinto was born on 31 March 1927

Antonio Rudolfo Jose Pio Gama Pinto was born on 31 March 1927. Together with his sister Sevigne and brother Rosario, they were all born in Nyeri and educated in India. His father, Antonio Filipe da Gama Pinto, and mother Ema Ribeiro, had migrated from Portuguese-ruled Goa to Kenya where his father had worked as a civil servant in the British Colonial Government, 1919-1941.

Pinto studied science for two years in India, before joining the Royal Indian Air Force in 1944 as an apprentice ground engineer. He was a top athlete, a keen footballer and tennis player in schools and colleges in Kenya and India and donated his trophies to poor African schools. He was compelled to give up sports in order to attend to the political causes to which he was dedicated.

When only 17 years of age he started agitating against the British Raj in India and for political freedom for the Goans. After demobilization, he took up a job in the Posts and Telegraph office in Bombay and participated in a general strike and got his first glimpse of mass action and organization. In the mid-1940s, Pio joined both in the hartal (non-cooperation) movement by peaceful agitation as well as some violent protest actions. This was at a time when Mahatma Gandhi, Pandit Nehru and others were languishing in prison.

Pinto gained experience in the trade union and co-operative movements in Bombay and in the civil disobedience campaign following the Indian Naval Mutiny, which culminated in India’s independence, in 1947. Simultaneously, he participated in the Goan Liberation movement and became a founder member of the Goa National Congress, whose aim was to liberate Goa from Portuguese colonial rule. His political activism soon made it necessary for him to return to Kenya to avoid being arrested. He returned to Kenya in 1949.

His sister, Sevigne Athaide, also carved out an illustrious career in Indian politics, becoming a Member of Parliament in Karnataka. His brother Rosario returned to Kenya and was a firm supporter of Pinto’s politics. He and Pio attended the ‘Problems of Portuguese Colonies’ seminar in New Delhi in 1961. They requested some university scholarships for East African-based Goan students from Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, and were invited to attend Goa’s liberation celebrations.  Pinto was asked to return to Goa to take a leadership role in the new Goa but he declined, saying that there were enough talented people in Goa and his priorities were in Kenya.