Zeca (Jose) Mesquita and his family escaped East Timor in 1975. They narrowly avoided death when Zeca’s loud crying forced them to leave a place of rest before it was bombed. Zeca’s family settled in Portugal, but Zeca never felt at home and sought a new life in Australia. He believed he was in paradise, until he realised how far apart everything was. He now identifies as Australian Timorese and has embraced local customs, including football, after an invitation to a game with Essendon supporters.
… So, my heart was pumping. I played soccer.., since [I was] little, but when I saw that I said, ‘This is a real sport.’ … oh my God, I couldn't believe it. This is your team? Yeah, my team is that one too... The atmosphere is so – [I am now a] die-hard fan.
Zeca maintains his Timorese heritage with the aid of his mother, a respected elder of the community. He teaches Timorese and African drumming, culture and chanting, and plays with the Dili Allstars, Mystic Trio and Sol Nation. Performing in Arnhem Land, with Sol Nation, he felt a connection between indigenous Australians and the Timorese through their dancing, and their shared totem the crocodile.
Zeca married Mary, a Greek Australian and has two sons. He says: I live in a country that gave me everything. Gave me two boys, amazing, beautiful two boys, a roof over my head.
Reproduced courtesy of Susan Gordon Brown
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Reviewed 24 April 2023