Lost in the pages of History, Domingos had an important part to play in the success of Tanzania’s freedom. Being a Goan in another country and serving the soldiers in their struggle, Domingos earned the respect of fellow Goans and Tanzanians alike. As Domingos celebrated his birthday yesterday, RUSSELL D’COSTA finds out more about the struggle
Across Borders… for Humanity
This is the story of a forgotten hero who silently, humbly and courageously played a very brave part at a time when there were mercy killings taking place during the Kagera war. This person is Domingos Fernandes, a Goan who struggled along with Tanzanians in Africa, a battle fought when Tanzanians
were being invaded by military dictator Idi Amin from Uganda. On October 30, 1978, a war broke loose between Uganda and Tanzania, in the continent of Africa which lasted till April 11, 1979. Idi Amin’s soldiers occupied the Kagera salient and systematically killing Tanzanians and destroying their property which is known as the Kagera War.
They invaded Northern Tanzania after blowing up the only bridge over the Kagera river, Domingos a youngster in his mid teens, was the only Goan owning a bakery in those years. He was the only one who on the quiet, courageously provided food for the Tanzanian soldiers in their battle to prevent Idi Amin’s soldiers from entering their borders. He used to carry bread in the war stricken country for the tired and hungry Tanzanian soldiers during the time of distraught when food was the most important necessity and was not readily available. Domingos, a very soft spoken and hard working youngster then, was a witness to the killings and brutality of the war and yet provided food to the soldiers to keep them strong which gave them the strength to continue fighting. Having a soft corner for people, he gave food to both, the young and the old.
Domingos is married to Bertha Fernandes, his beautiful wife, with whose support and values, they have brought up their two lovely daughters, Steffy Fernandes and Flavia Fernandes. He considers knowledge and wisdom with very high prestige and both his daughters completed Masters in Business Administration. Steffy, his elder daughter, now married in Dar es salaam, Africa, to Michael Barreto, resemblances the traits of her father with her wittiness and boldness.
Domingos was always fond of reading books and always wanted to learn but did not get an opportunity to study further and obtain higher educational degrees. The younger daughter, Flavia Fernandes, is a determined young girl, who is fond of learning newer things. A computer programmer, she enjoys coding and developing websites and deriving innovative solutions towards marketing problems. She is also a talented musician, who loves playing the guitar and will not miss to offer her talents to God during Church services. Speaking about her father, she says, “The most influential person in my life is probably not even aware of the things he has taught me or of how much he has affected my existence. My father is a teacher, a guide, and a source of strength and support. He is whom I look up to with loving trust and pride. He showed me the stars and taught me how to reach them.”
Domingos Fernandes was born on May 14, 1956, in Goa. From his younger years itself, he had a vision to help people with all he got. Living in another country and serving the soldiers in their struggle to evacuate Idi Amin’s and his soldiers’ intension of invasion, Domingos played his role well in the success of Tanzania’s Freedom.