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Aquino De Bragança’s real life in reel

‘Special Envoy’ is a documentary that brings to light a mission of a Goan, late Aquino De Bragança, who fought against colonialism both in Goa and in African countries. NT BUZZ speaks to film maker Nalini Elvino De Souza to learn more


During the colonial rule there were several colonies like Goa and Africa struggling for freedom. Many Goans residing in those colonies through their various initiatives were seeking ways to free themselves from the oppressive rule. One such contributor was Aquino de Bragança, whose movements and actions aimed at overthrowing the colonial yoke in Africa and Goa.

And now film maker Nalini Elvino De Souza has documented his life and good work in her new film ‘Special Envoy’.“’Special Envoy’ is a quest to bring to light an inspiring yet unknown mission of an Indian whose life was cut short in the Mozambican presidential plane crash in 1986,” she says. The story is built around a chess game. Very subtly, the story builds up to a point where the chess pieces metamorphose into real life characters. “The life story of Aquino de Bragança and his bond with Samora Machel (the first president of independent Mozambique), are magnetically drawn onto the chess table till the final checkmate dictates its end.” The film is co-produced by Lotus Film and TV Production (India) and Real Ficção (Portugal).

It was while researching on Goans who contributed to the freedom struggle of Africa that Nalini came across Aquino who relentlessly fought against colonialism both in Goa and all African countries. “Aquino in his twenties, found himself in Mozambique in 1947, hoping to follow his father›s footsteps in the Department of Customs. Failing to achieve this goal and for the first time ever, experiencing the bitterness of racism, his life took a 180 degree spin and his aim, till the very last day of his life remained to fight against colonialism both in Goa and all the African countries,» states Nalini.

His close bond with Samora Machel propelled him to dedicate his life to the reconstruction of Mozambique after its independence. “Aquino and Samora met in the 60›s and when Mozambique celebrated its independence on June 25, 1975, Aquino came to Mozambique and decided to live there. Samora became the president of the country and Aquino, an Indian intellectual and journalist was his councillor,” says Nalini

Making a documentary on Aquino became an obsession for Nalini, but it was also a tedious task as it took her four long years to complete it. She started the pre-production on his birthday – April 6 and finished the shoot on October 19, 2016.

“Aquino has given many interviews, and he was part of many important events, but to find those clippings or videos was like trying to find a needle of a haystack. The first person who opened the doors for me was Silvia Bragança, Aquino›s widow. I met her in Goa and later in 2014; I went to Mozambique and stayed with her.”

Nalini also went about interviewing many of Aquino›s friends, students and colleagues. She went all the way to Portugal to interact with them and finally her research took her France to meet Aquino›s daughter – Maya Bragança.

While working on the documentary, she also learnt a lot more about the bond between Goa and Mozambique, both former Portuguese colonies. “I came to know that many Goans migrated to Mozambique in search of jobs. The second generation was born in Mozambique and stayed on. For example, the narrator of the movie – Fernando Vaz – was born in Mozambique but his parents were Goans who in the year 1908 came to Mozambique in search of a job. So, there is considerable community of Goans living in Mozambique. Some of them had very important roles in the politics of the country,” says Nalini.

This movie, she says, is a tribute to the dauntless spirit of Aquino de Braganza and all those who continue fighting for equality and peace. “Aquino was a very generous person. To help the Portuguese colonies gain their independence was everything for him. Today, I find that people live without ideals. People live only for money. It is imperative to know who Aquino de Braganza was and what heritage he left for humanity,” she says.

For her the documentary was an act of love. “I believe that all of us can have a little of Aquino within. We need to bring that part of us to the real word and fight for peace and justice wherever we live. We surely can’t fight for the whole world, but each one of us can give a little of our time to others like he did,” she says.  Citing an example, she says that we tend to be ruled by work and family. “Our whole life is ruled by it: have breakfast, go to work, pick up kids from tuitions or school, come home, have dinner. What if, one day, just one day, we decide to dedicate that time to someone who needs it, or to a village that needs help. Our family will remain intact, our work will be the same, but we will be doing something extra ordinary from the usual,” she says.

(The documentary will be screened on July 18, 6.30 p.m. at Sunaparanta- Goa Centre for the Arts, Panaji.)


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