VOICE OF KONKNNI NO MORE
By Valmiki Faleiro
No one who has read Konknni in the Roman script would not be familiar with
the name of Zito Almeida. In a passion for writing, spanning some five
decades, Zito produced a huge mass of published work, most of it in his
beloved mother tongue. But, sometimes – for a wider reach, as he would say –
also in English. This was so particularly on the life of saints and village
Not without surprise: Zito hailed from a deeply religious family, as he
himself also was.
His elder brother, late Fr. Lactancio Almeida, of the Society of Pilar, was
a long-time Editor of the 'Vauraddeancho Ixtt. 'Zito was born March 2, 1938
at Banda, Assolna. So entwined was his life with his faiththat when he
decided to start a business for a living, he set it up at Margao's
"HolyFamily House" dealing mainly with, what else, all forms of religious
items – from Biblesand scapulars to rosaries, from Holy pictures and statues
to ciboria. Side-by-side on the shelves of his showroom lay, of course, his
second love: books in Konknni.
After completing primary studies in Portuguese and further studies in
English, Zito began writing at a young age. He initially contributed to
'Aitarachem Vachop,' a weekly published by the Salesian Society from Panjim.
He continued his Konknni writing in 'Vauraddeancho Ixtt,' Pilar Society's
Among the daily newspapers he wrote for were 'Sot', 'Novem-Goem', 'Divtti',
'GoenchoAvaz', and 'A Vida.' So also for weeklies like 'Udentichem Nokhetr',
'The Goa Times','The Goa Mail', 'Avé Maria', 'Cine-Times', 'Loksad', 'Konkan
Mail', and monthlies like'Dor Mhoineachi Roti', 'Gulab', 'The Goan Review'
(a bi-monthly), and 'Renovação,'the fortnightly of the Archdiocese of Goa
and Daman. Most in today's younger generations would have only heard of
these publications: almost all now extinct.
In addition to that voluminous work, Zito authored some books. Among
them:'Bhurgeank Kannio-I', 'Bhurgeank Kannio-II', 'Vaitt Ieta Boreak'
(1967), 'Fatima' (on theapparitions, 1973), 'Goy, Mhojea Sopnantlem Painnem'
(on Goa and Goans, 2006), all in Romi Konknni.
As General Secretary of the Konkani Bhasha Mandal, he edited 'Konknni, Romi
LipintKhas Natalam Ank-1979.' He also edited Special Issues of 'Natalanchim
Nokhetram' (in Konknni, English and Portuguese, at Christmas-1968) and
'Goychi Ranni,' (Carnival-1980.)
For a lifetime of work in Konknni, Zito was a much-decorated man. Among the
many honours, awards and 'puroskars' he received: In 'Konknni Pustokancho
Spordho'organised by the then 'Konknni Katolk Boroinnarancho Ekvott,' he was
awarded thefirst prize for his book 'Bhurgeank Kannio-I' (1970). He bagged
the "Fr. LactancioAlmeida Iadostik Puroskar" as the best writer of
'Vavraddeancho Ixtt' (1986.) The'Gulab Award' came his way for being a "Boro
Borovpi" (1988.) He was feted by 'Vavraddeancho Ixtt' (2003.) The Dalgado
Konknni Academi awarded him their "Fr.Freddy J. Da Costa Potrokar
Puroskar-2006" for his writings in the past 52 years.Among the many public
felicitations was one in 2007, for his writings on Gulab fromthe monthly's
inception in 1983. Of course, he was honoured by both the
State-levelinstitutions of the language, the Konkani Bhasha Mandal and the
Goa KonkaniAcademy for his lifelong contribution to the language.
Besides his articles in Konknni, Zito also wrote rather profusely in the
Englishlanguage. This work was published in Goa's 'Herald', 'The Navhind
Times', 'Gomantak Times' and 'Fr. Agnel's Call.'The great thud that shocked
the Konknni world ironically came from a small fall athome. Zito was
bleeding a bit from the head. When brought to a Margao hospital, hisvital
parameters necessitated admission to the ICU. Suddenly, several unrelated
problems surfaced and, in less than a week and before anyone could realise
it, thenotable son of Konknni had passed into the pages of history.
Zito-bab breathed his last on April 4, 2008, at age 70. He leaves behind his
wife, MariaEmy Menezes of Cuncolim and children Rubina/Russel, Darlene
Orfelinda, Savio and Maria Lourdes (Lulush) and two grandchildren, Rusener
and Rubayne. All the saint she worshipped and propagated during his journey
here must have surely been there at the pearly gates, to welcome him to
The above article appeared in the March 2, 2008 edition of the Herald, Goa