As Antonio Costa emerges in the lead for the post of Portuguese PM, his family in Margao talks of his Goan connection
Having been a part of Portugal for 450 years, there will always be a part of Portugal in Goa - and vice-versa. Nowhere is this sentiment more visible than in the heart of Margao city, where the incoming Portuguese Prime minister Antonio Costa still has ownership rights to his father’s ancestral home.
Costa’s Uncle Joao da Costa’s Finnish wife Sinikka Jussilainen Costa(right), and his first cousin Anna Costa. Pic/Joseph Zuzarte
Inside the Costa house on Abbe de Faria Road, Antonio’s achievement is still to sink in, but his first cousin and aunt can barely disguise their excitement. Antonio’s uncle, Joao da Costa’s Finnish wife Sinikka Jussilainen Costa, 76, lives here along with her daughter Anna Jussilainen Costa.
Antonio's father Orlando and uncle Joao were born in Mozambique to parents of Goan origin, and spent their childhood in Goa before moving to Portugal. While Orlando stayed on in Portugal, Joao returned in 1965.
Anna Costa, Antonio’s first cousin, says she has met him on a couple of occasions, but keeps in regular touch with his half-brother Ricardo, Orlando's son from his second marriage.
The last time Anna met Antonio was around 20 years ago when she visited Portugal along with her mother and daughter. Antonio had also come down with a Portuguese parliamentary delegation once and the family had gone to visit him in the Taj Fort Aguada Beach Resort.
“But he did not visit the house,” she says in the sitting room of the 150-year-old Costa house, of which Antonio is part owner. “We’re more in touch with Ricardo. Antonio is now very busy. But, it’s a very proud moment for us,” she says, “we’re waiting to celebrate.”
Talking about the family which is also partly French, Portuguese and in Goa, Finnish, Anna says, laughing, “We’re all cocktails. I consider myself Goan, because I’ve always lived here. But there are a lot of aspects and ideas about me which might not be Goan! After all Goa is different from India. Antonio is completely Portuguese. His only link to Goa is his father.”
There’s also the slight communication gap. Says Anna, “He doesn't speak English too well, and my Portuguese is terrible! But he always remembers family occasions and makes it a point to stay in touch. He has always been dedicated to his profession and worked very hard.”
Sinnika, his paternal aunt, remembers meeting him for the first time when he was around four years old. “Once he got into politics, then we never really had much contact. I’m really glad he’s going to be prime minister of Portugal. I’m hoping he will succeed in his job, but it’s going to be very tough because Portugal is in a major financial crisis and the situation is horrible.”