Tristão de Bragança Cunha (1891 -1958) was a prominent nationalist and anti-colonial activist from Goa (then part of Portuguese India, now modern India). He is popularly known as the “Father of Goan nationalism”, and organizer of the first movement to liberate Goa from Portuguese rule.
T.B.Cunha was born on April 2, 1891 in the village of Chandor in Goa. He complete his school education in Panjim and then went to Pondicherry to French College for his B.A. and then to Paris. There he studied at the Sorbonne University and obtained a degree in electrical engineering. In Paris, Cunha entered the circle of Romain Rolland and helped publicize the Indian independence movement generally, and the case of Portuguese India in particular, in the French-language press.
Cunha returned to Goa in 1926 and he set up the Comissão do Congresso de Goa (Goa Congress Committee) in Goa in 1928 to organize the Goan intelligentsia against Portuguese colonial rule. Pressurised by Portuguese authorities, Cunha transferred operations to Bombay and, in 1938, affiliated his organization with the Indian National Congress. He continued publicizing the Goan case in a stream of articles and books, denouncing Portuguese rule. Among his publications were booklets “Four Hundred Years of Foreign Rule” and “The Denationalization of Goans” (1944). Cunha was an advocate of Goan identification, political as well as cultural, with greater India. In 1946, Cunha helped organize the famous assembly in Margão, inviting the INC speaker, Ram Manohar Lohia, to address what was arguably the first and largest mass gathering yet, setting in motion the Goa Liberation Movement. Along with the other organizers, Cunha was arrested by the Portuguese authorities in 1946. He was kept in dark damp cell at Fort Aguada. He was the first civilian to be tried by a military tribunal. He was court-martialled and sentenced to eight years imprisonment. He was deported to the Peniche prison in Portugal. After his release from Portugal in 1954, Cunha returned to Bombay. Cunha formed and headed the “Goa Action Committee”, to help coordinate the numerous Goan liberation organizations that had emerged by this time. He published a newspaper called “Free Goa”. He died on September 28, 1958. Loknayak Jaiprakash Narayan was one of the pallbearers. The Government of India issued a postage stamp in his honour.
Heroi no Quarto Aniversário da Morte de Tristão de Brangança Cunha – Poem by Visnum Porobo Sincró commemorating the fourth anniversary of Cunha Bragança’s death.