The Portuguese who loved Konkani

Joaquim Heliodoro da Cunha Rivara (1809- 1879), born in Arraiolos, eldest son of António Francisco Rivara and Maria Isabel da Cunha Feio Castelo Branco, was a Portuguese physician, professor, intellectual and politician . His father was a doctor of Genoese origin and was a student at Casa Pia de Lisboa, while his mother was of Spanish origin. He excelled as a scholar of the history of the Portuguese presence in India and as a champion of the Konkani language.

In the year 1837, Joaquim was appoinment as Professor of Rational and Moral Philosophy of the Liceu de Évora and in 1838 he was appointed by the government of Queen Maria II of Portugal as Director of the Public Library of Évora, the first director of the institution appointed by the state and the first layman to occupy the position.

He had to resign from the legislature in Portugal after he was appointed as secretary general of the governor general of Goa in the late 1850s. During his stay in Goa he published several articles and books on the history of Goa, reorganized the archives of the Governor General, and tried to instill in a large group of Goan intellectuals a taste for historical research. He also devoted himself to journalism, publishing articles in defense of what he understood to be the rights of Portugal in the East against the hegemony of the British Raj . He kept up an extensive collaboration with Goan and Portuguese newspapers, particularly with the Official Gazette, the O Cronista de Tissuray and other periodicals, and also continued the investigations of historians John de Barros and Diogo do Couto . After resigning as Secretary General, he continued to live in Goa until 1877.

He was considered a pioneer in the study of the Konkani language, which till his time had been regarded as a mere dialect. The new chair at Goa University will be named after Joaquim Heliodoro da Cunha Rivara.

A prominent road in the city of Panaji in Goa, India is named as “Rua Cunha Rivara”.



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The Portuguese who loved Konkani

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