by Fr. Nascimento Mascarenhas
If you have visited Karachi, you might have chanced upon a township known as Cincinnatus Town. It is named after Cincinnatus Fabian D’Abreo, a much-respected councillor of the Karachi municipality in the early 1900s, who set up the township for the Goan community in Karachi.
Cincinnatus was born in Goa on 24 September 1862. His father Manuel D’Abreu from Abreuvaddo in Saligao was probably the first Saligaokar to migrate to Sind in 1846, three years after the conquest of that province by the British.
Cincinnatus was educated at St. Patrick’s High School in Karachi. However, he had to discontinue his studies at the age of 16 and seek a job to earn a living, due to the unfortunate death of his father. At that early age he was first employed by the Civil and Military Gazette Press as a clerk. Two years later he joined the well-known British business establishment of Forbes, Forbes and Campbell, dabbling in the import and export trade. In 1889, at the age of 27, he joined the Sind commissioner’s office as an ordinary clerk. In 1895 he was promoted to the high position of assistant collector of Sukur and finally was elected president of the municipality.
In 1897 Cincinnatus returned to Karachi, where he occupied various posts such as assistant collector of customs, and salt & shipping master. He had a brilliant record of service and was appointed acting collector of customs on two occasions. He was a councillor of Karachi Municipality for many years and made a remarkable contribution to civic life in Karachi as well as to the Karachi Goans community as the Goan voice.
Cincinnatus D’Abreo was instrumental in starting the Karachi Goan Association (earlier known as Goa-Portuguese Association, Karachi), whose stately building shall ever stand as a monument to his patriotic zeal. He also played a part in the launch of the Indian Flour Mills, the Union Press, and above all, the Indian Life Assurance Company, of which he was secretary for many years. He was also one of the directors of the Karachi Building and Development Company.
The portrait of Cincinnatus depicts him as bald-headed, with enquiring and penetrative eyes in a round face, with a black flowing beard and attentive ears. He was known to be of serious nature and upright character.
Through the good offices of Cincinnatus, a number of people from Saligao migrated to Sind, which was then a part of Bombay Province, and settled in Karachi, where they have done well for themselves as part of the Karachi Goans community. These included families such as the Vazes of Donvaddo, the de Melos of Sonarbhat, the Sequeiras of Sequeiravaddo and the Saldanhas of Demelovaddo.
In 1917 Cincinnatus retired from service and devoted himself to various social activities. He was the Goan voice and held in high esteem not only by the Karachi Goans but also by the people of Karachi, who chose him among the 12 leading citizens of Sind. Thus honoured by all, he breathed his last on 25 January 1929. As reported by the London Times, the Karachi Goans paid grateful homage to Cincinnatus, by carrying, in relays, his coffin from the church to the cemetery.