The businessman in East Africa

by Fr. Nascimento Mascarenhas

I got to know Vitorino Francisco Saldanha, a prominent personality from the village of Saligao, when he finally returned to Goa from East Africa. I felt good when he affectionately tapped my head and spoke sweetly to me on a fine Sunday in May in the early fifties.

Vitorino Saldanha : Saligao Serenade

Vitorino Francisco Saldanha

He wore a sun hat, his attire was elegant but simple, he sported a moustache and walked in a stately manner. He looked a gentleman to the core. In the later years of his life he moved about in his Ford car, one of the few four-wheelers we saw in those days.

His son-in-law, Hubert de Sousa, described him as follows:

“To amass wealth in business requires a high degree of intelligence, shrewd business acumen and a tremendous capacity for hard work, and Mr. Saldanha had all these characteristics in abundant measure. He displayed his intelligence in his ability to handle finances without having had the knowledge of accounts and banking. His shrewdness was shown in his foresight in buying land and plots in Nairobi, which in a few years became gold mines of that fast-growing city as far as their location was concerned, and became worth many times the price he paid for them.

“Vitorino Saldanha’s hard work in the building up of his three business houses in Mombasa, Nairobi and Nakuru was shown in the long hours he spent in his shops and estates in putting up edifices that were modern in design and construction for that time and which were eventually sold for five times their original investment.

“He hardly had any education except in music at church school, where he learnt to play clarinet and reading music. Thus when he was in Ceylon he played the clarinet in an orchestra, mastered sufficient English to deal with the government and other officials in connection with his business and properties.

“Vitorino was very generous. He was the benefactor of Saligao Church, Saligao Institute as well as the Seminary of Saligao-Pilerne. At that time his contribution to the seminary was large. His portrait is displaced in the parlour of the seminary. He always had a ready helping hand for those who approached him. His life was calm, methodical, serene and always busy. His food and drinking habits were also good, hence he lived a long life of 87 years to see his sons and daughters well placed in life.”

Hubert de Sousa says: “Vitorino Saldanha was an excellent card player and excelled in that skill-cum-bluff game of Trook, which was widely played in Goa until a few years ago and which has now lost its attraction. He had a real poker face and it was extremely difficult to guess whether he was bluffing or was in earnest with the cards. In the end it was usual for his side to win.”

[Vide:  Floreat Saligao by C. Hubert de Sousa]



6 comments on The businessman in East Africa

  • Jules Fausto de Sa

    Dear Fr Nascimento,
    It has been a long time since we last corresponded. Hope that you are keeping well!
    It is good to see Saligao Serenade back and running. I almost got fed up trying to access it since July.
    Well, Father, I have a small request. I see you mention that Vitorino Francisco Saldanha was the father-in-law of Hubert de Sousa. Would Hubert be the brother of Fr Jimmy de Sousa and Sr Alice de Sousa from Karachi?
    Thanks and regards

  • Dear Mr. Jules Fausto de Sa’
    Thank you very much for your e-mail. Yes Mr. Hubert D’Souza is indeed the son-in-law of Mr. Vitorino Saldanha. This Mr. Hubert D’Souza is from Nigvaddo, Saligao and father of Fr. Desmond D’Souza CSsR( Redemptorist priest).
    The other Mr. Hubert D’Souza is from Sonarbhatt, Saligao He is the brother of Fr. Jimmy’s D’Souza and Sr. Alice D’Souza from Karachi. They are two different persons. Fortunately I knew them both.
    My prayers are with you. fr.nascimento mascarenhas.

  • Ashley Saldanha

    Dear Fr Nascimento,
    It was such a pleasure to find your site back up and running and read your brief reminiscence of my grandfather. I just wanted to let you know I forwarded it on “up” to my father, Estelita, who at 89 is the youngest and only surviving child of Vitorino; as well as on “down” to Arya and Prianka, two lovely great-great-granddaughters of Vitorino and great-granddaughters of Hubert D’Souza, who visited with us recently and gently prodded my dad for some family history. With thanks, best wishes and the highest regard,
    Ashley Saldanha

    • Bridie

      Ashley – my name is Bridie (Saldanha) Sellers, daughter of Rui Saldanha. Would Rui be a cousin of yours?

      • Ashley Saldanha

        My dear Birdie, I am so sorry to be replying almost 18 months late, but for some reason I only spotted your message now. Yes, your dad Rui is my first cousin, though I don’t believe we ever met in person. Please accept and pass along greetings from my father – now 91 – and all of us on this side of the family to all of you. We would love to get news of you all..

  • Paula Bedi (nee Britto)

    Dear Fr. Nascimento It is indeed a pleasure to see this site, thanks to my cousin (actually uncle, Ashley). Reading your thoughts and reflections on Saligao and the nuances of life therein is such joy. We were packed off to our grandparents every summer as kids. (Hubert and Julie DeSousa). My girls who their Grand-Uncle Ashley mentions, are so curious about their roots in Saligao. Reading the write-up of my great-grandfather Vitorino was lovely as was reading about Fr. Albert (affectionately called Tiabert by us). Your comment about Tiabert and the Gospel of John, was so touching, given I’ve just completed studying the book of John, what a great connection! I’m wondering if you have any recollections and thoughts about my grandfather Hubert? Mine are the recollections of a child.

    Let us know how we can help in whatever minor way to keep your efforts going. I look forward to copies of your book.
    Prayers and good wishes,
    Paula Bedi (nee Britto)

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