Antonio Rudolfo Jose Pio Gama Pinto was born on 31 March 1927.
31 March 1927 - 24 February 1965
Aware of the importance of information and communication in a liberation struggle, Pinto became editor of the Daily Chronicle.
PIO GAMA PINTO – The patriotic journalist
The mass media has played a very important role in our struggle against imperialism and was used as an organizing and uniting force by the patriotic forces fighting for liberation. Pio Gama Pinto was at the centre of the publishing activities of the freedom fighters. This publishing role did not limit his contribution to the struggle for land and freedom in Kenya. He stood foremost as an activist who clearly saw the danger posed to the young Kenyan nation from imperialism and their local allies. He devoted his whole life to the fight for true independence for Kenya, in all spheres, economic, political, social and cultural. No sacrifice was too great for achieving this aim. He suffered economic hardships, detentions, and finally gave his life. His example can only fill our youth with a greater sense of dedication to the service of the people. Pio Gama Pinto was a prominent person in publishing activities of the period (1948-65). As he was deeply involved in every aspect of the struggle for independence, Pinto was in a better position to serve national interests through his publishing activities.
*Aware of the importance of information and communication in a liberation struggle, he became editor of the Daily Chronicle. Over the years he produced a plethora of newspaper articles, campaign slogans, posters, memoranda, press statements, pamphlets, leaflets and general correspondence. He would draft, write, print and distribute them.
The Pan Africa Press Ltd, which Pinto had established, published a short biography entitled Independent Kenya’s First Martyr in February 1966, the first anniversary of Pinto’s death. It records that, ‘In 1949, after a succession of clerical jobs, [Pio Gama Pinto] became involved in the local politics aimed at over throwing colonialism. He turned to journalism and worked with the Colonial Times and the Daily Chronicle. In 1954, five months after his marriage to Emma, 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 .
In 1960, together with Odinga and Gichuru, he founded the KANU newspaper Sauti ya Kanu.* OMIT:Later he established the Pan African press of which he subsequently became director and secretary. In 1961, *with finances donated by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru of India, Oginga Odinga, Joseph Murumbi and Pio Gama Pinto founded the Pan African Press Ltd. Pinto became *its director and secretary and started the publication of three newspapers, namely Sauti ya Mwafrica, Pan Africa and Nyanza Times.* The newspapers and printing press gave Pinto the tools to do what he always loved most – sensitizing the masses through underground pamphlets and propaganda.
So self-effacing was Pio that he never wrote about himself or collected any of his own writings. It is difficult to trace his authorship as he often wrote using pseudonyms. And the documents which survived him were burnt by his friends in a bonfire at the back of his house following his murder.
‘In September 1965, Mrs Emma Gama Pinto was invited to Santiago, Chile, to receive a posthumous prize awarded to her husband by the Internationsl Organisation of Journalists for his contribution in journalism to the liberation of African countries from foreign domination and exploitation.’
The Editors of the Democratic Journalist, organ of International Organisation of Journalists, Prague wrote thus:
On February 24 we received a report which upset us very profoundly and left us extremely dismayed. P G Pinto, the national deputy, member of the leadership of the periodical Panafrica, the great African revolutionary and nationalist, a great man, had been murdered by hired assassins. A man had been killed who meant much to the international movement of progressive, democratic people, both to the trade union or journalist movement, and to the movement for the international co-operation of members of parliaments, and so on.
In P G Pinto we lose a man of great qualities, of great revolutionary enthusiasm, of great personal courage. His name is linked with the struggle against British colonialism. Pinto was several times held in colonial concentration camps together with thousands of other Kenyan patriots, together with those who today stand at the head of a free country. Since the winning of freedom Pinto has played an important role in the trade union and journalist movement, the periodical in which he had a leading position has become the spokes-man of democratic, freedom-loving ideas, an energetic fighter against colonialism, neo-colonialism and imperialism. His name will always be linked with the Lumumba Institute in Nairobi, which he helped to create, to which he gave much of his energies and part of his heart. The Lumumba Institute became the spokesman of all the new world that today is fighting in Africa for humanism, progress, the dignity of man, man freed of imperialism, freed of racial discrimination, freed from hunger and poverty. Every African patriot who passes through this school, either from the east, the north, the south or the west of Africa, takes with him part of P G Pinto’s heart, his enthusiasm, his wisdom, his determination and courage.
And neither will our organization ever forget P G Pinto. He was with us at our last executive committee meeting held in Algiers in April 1964. A modest man, knowledgeable in many matters, knowledgeable on African and world problems, wise and well-balanced. Many of us knew him from personal contacts either in Kenya or elsewhere in Africa, Asia or Europe. P G Pinto was murdered because he stood in the way of neo-colonialism, he was undoubtedly removed by those who wish to go on exploiting, misusing and oppressing Africa and the Africans. Pinto fought and fell in battle.
But he did not lose. This crude murder is merely a proof of the weakness of these reactionary circles which hired the murderers. Pinto will go on fighting. In every African patriot, in every democrat throughout the world. And our organization will also honour the memory of this great journalist., by fighting even more effectively for the materialization of the ideals of freedom, equality, democracy for which Pinto was working. We shall never forget our heroic colleague.