News of Timor Leste (timorleste) wrote,
News of Timor Leste

Commemoration of the death in combat of President Nicolau Lobato (Biography follows)



*Biography of President Nicolau dos Reis Lobato *

Nicolau dos Reis Lobato was born on the 24th of May 1946 in Sasatan Oan,
Aitara Hun, Soibada, Laclubar Administrative Post in Manatuto. The
eldest son of Narciso Manuel Lobato, from Leorema, Bazartete
Administrative Post in Liquica, and Felismina Alves Lobato, from
Malurucumo / Macadique, Uatolari Administrative Post in Viqueque. (His
maternal grandfather, Domingos da Costa Alves, from Samora, Soibada was
a catechist in Uatolari, which is why his mother was born in
Malurucumo / Macadique).

His parents had 13 children all together these being: 1. Nicolau dos
Reis Lobato as the eldest followed by 2. António Bosco Lobato, 3.
Rogério Tiago de Fátima Lobato, 4. Maria Cesaltina Francisca Alves
Lobato, 5. Januario do Carmo Alves Lobato, 6. Domingos Cassiano Maria
da Silva Lobato, 7. Luis Francisco de Assunção Alves Lobato, 8.
Silvestre Lobato, 9. Madalena de Canossa Alves Lobato, 10. Elga Maria
do Rosário Alves Lobato, 11. Jose Bernardo Alves Lobato, 12. Silvestre
Agostinho Alves Lobato, 13. Elisa Maria Lobato. There is only one
surviving member of this large family, Fatima Rogerio Tiago Lobato.
His father died of illness on the 26th of April 1976 in Leorema. His
mother was killed on Mount Maubere in Laclubar in July 1979. All other
brothers and sisters, with the exception of Silvestre Lobato who was
stillborn, fell as combatants in the long struggle for national

Nicolau dos Reis Lobato lived in Soibada until he was thirteen years
old, attending primary school at the Colégio Nuno Alvares Pereira where
his friend Alberto Ricardo da Silva, now Bishop of Dili, also studied
among other colleagues. He continued his studies together with Alberto
Ricardo da Silva in the Minor Seminary of Our Lady of Fatima in Dare,
and completed his fifth year of Humanities with distinction in all
subjects, especially in Portuguese and mathematics. His childhood
companions, in addition to his brothers Antonio and Rogerio, were
António Cesaltino Osorio Soares, Abílio Osório Soares, Luis Viana do
Carmo and João Bosco do Carmo, neighbours and sons of teachers Fernando
Soares and Jose Carmo respectively.

Nicolau dos Reis Lobato was baptized by Father Januário Coelho da Silva
in the Parish of the Immaculate Conception of Soibada, at the Catholic
Mission of the same name. His godfather was Fulgêncio dos Reis Ornay,
the traditional monarch of Fehuc Rin in Barique, and colleague of his
father. As a boy he was chosen to represent an angel during the famous
pilgrimage to Timor of the statue of Our Lady of Fatima in 1951. He
received all his Catholic training in Soibada and Dare, and became a
true practicing Catholic. As a devotee of Our Lady of Aitara, he
committed himself to carry the statue of the Virgin, hiding it in a
secret place known as Anin Kuak (Wind Cave) in Soibada so as not to be
profaned. As a protector of Catholic priests during the war, he had as
his confidant and confessor Father Francisco Tavares, currently the
parish priest at the Catholic Mission of Ainaro.

To confirm his Catholic faith, it is sufficient to recall that during
the retreat to the mountains around Dili following the Indonesian
invasion, he passed through Dare and requested Father Ricardo Alberto
da Silva to say a mass for Timor-Leste. After the mass and upon
bidding farewell, he told him: “Please say a mass for me if I die.”
His colleague carried out his will after his death, saying a mass for
his soul.

During the years at the seminary he was selected by the Rector as the
head of the seminarians for three consecutive years. It was in these
years that he forged his character as a man, leader and sportsman. In
1965 he decided not to pursue his studies to become a priest and left
the seminary.

After leaving the seminary, Nicolau dos Reis Lobato’s dream was to
study law in Coimbro, Portugal. However he was impeded from realizing
this dream due to his father’s illness and the need to support the
education of his younger brothers and sisters, as well as the lack of
financial support available from the then Portuguese government. In
the mean time he continued his secondary studies to the seventh year at
the secondary school (Liceu) Dr. Francisco Machado in Dili where he
attained high academic results in philosophy, political organization
and national administration and Portuguese language.

In Dili, after having left the seminary, at the request of his parents,
he lived with the family of his mother’s cousin in Bidau, Armindo da
Costa Tilman and Lidia da Silva Boavida, both of whom treated him as a
son. Whilst living there he assiduously attended mass at Lecidere which
was celebrated by the Bishop of Dili at that time, Dom Jaime Garcia

In 1966 he commenced his service with the Portuguese Army. He
completed his Sergeant’s course with distinction having graduated first
in his class followed by João Viegas Carrascalão in second and Moisés
da Costa Sarmento in third. The latter would become his brother-in-law
when Moisés married his sister, Maria Cesaltina Francisca Alves
Lobato. His brother-in-law and sister were barbarically slaughtered in
Ratahu, Viqueque in 1979.

Whilst in the Portuguese Army he was first posted to the Bazartete
Military Post. After being promoted to the rank of Quartermaster, he
was transferred to the Hunter’s Company Number 15 in Caicoli and
appointed senior officer in charge of the barrack’s mess. It is there
that he became acquainted with First Sergeant Timane from Nampula in
Mozambique who secretly told him of the Mozambican national liberation

In 1968 he returned to civilian life having completed his compulsory
military service. At first he became a civil servant in the Agronomy
Mission of Timor. There he met the Agriculture Regent, Marcelino from
Cape Verde, who told him of the PAIGC and the struggle for national
liberation in Guinea and Cabo Verde. It is then that he began to
secretly read the first books regarding the liberation struggle in the
former Portuguese colonies in Africa. He subsequently moved from the
agronomy mission to finance department after succeeding in the
recruitment process to the category of Third Officer. There he was
given the task of supervising the salary and benefits payments for the
whole of the civil service.

As a sportsman he played volleyball, basketball and football having
become a notable footballer firstly with the Clube Desportivo of União
and then the Clube Desportivo of Academica.

It was while he was a civil servant in the finance department that
Nicolau dos Reis Lobato commenced a new phase in his life. He met
Isabel Barreto with whom he married in 1972 at the Bazartete chapel
with the wedding celebration taking place at Laulema, the residence of
Isabel Barreto’s parents. They were married by Father Simplício do
Menino Jesus, a missionary originally from Goa and parish priest of
Liquica at that time. They had a son, Jose Maria Barreto Lobato, who is
the only surviving off-spring of the couple. Nicolau’s wife, Isabel,
was brutally assassinated at the Dili wharf on the 7th of December
1975, the day Indonesia invaded Timor-Leste.

The son was adopted by his Uncle Jose Goncalves and Aunt Olimpia
Barreto and took on the name Jose Maria Barreto Lobato Goncalves.

In the middle of 1974 following the Carnation Revolution of the 25th of
April 1975 in Portugal, Nicolau Lobato voluntarily left the Portuguese
civil service to dedicate himself fulltime to the creation of the
ASDT/FRETILIN and the Timor-Leste struggle for national liberation.

At the transformation of ASDT to FRETILIN on 11 September 1974, he was
named as the Vice-President.

Nicolau Lobato led the action in response to the UDT armed assault
against FRETILIN launched on 11 August 1975 in his capacity as
Vice-President and without impediment of the then President of
FRETILIN, Xavier do Amaral. Thus:

1. On the evening of 11 August 1975, with the support of
Mari Alkatiri, Alarico Fernandes and Mau Lear, Nicolau Lobato led a
group of FRETILIN Central Committee (CCF) members in the withdrawal
from Dili;

2. On 13 August, he led a further withdrawal from the
surrounding mountains of Dili to Ai-Sirimou in Aileu;

3. In Ai-Sirimou, Nicolau Lobato headed the CCF delegation in
contacts with Timorese soldiers and sergeants in the Aileu Barracks in
order to inform them of the political and military situation in

4. On August 15, given the impediment of the absence of the
then President of FRETILIN and with the collaboration of some CCF
members, in particular Mari Alkatiri, he declared at Ai-Sirimou the
General Armed Uprising of the People, setting the strategy for a
prolonged popular struggle; the same day Nicolau Lobato, Mari Alkatiri,
Alarico Fernandes and some CCF members, assuming the powers of the CCF,
founded FALINTIL and created the first company of these same forces;

5. On 17 August, in a concerted action with the Timorese
soldiers and sergeants of the Aileu company, Nicolau Lobato led the
action that forced the Portuguese officials to hand over command of the
company to the Timorese (Sergeant José Silva);

6. From this date on, Nicolau Lobato led the entire
political and military counter-offensive operation;

7. During the months of September to November, he outlined
the political and military strategies. He always advocated the
necessity of Portugal’s return to resume the responsibility of
decolonizing Timor-Leste; He concentrated all efforts to find an
understanding among Timorese as a starting point for a political
solution to the conflict;

8. Frustrated in all these efforts, he activated the process
that led to unilateral declaration of independence of Timor-Leste on 28
November 1975;

9. In the government formed after the proclamation, Nicolau
Lobato became Prime Minister;

10. In 1977, faced with problems that emerged within
FRETILN, Nicolau Lobato was appointed President of FRETILIN, President
of the Republic and Commander-in-Chief of FALINTIL;

11. On 31 December 1978, he died in combat in the valley of
Mindelo, between Maubisse, Turiscai and Manufahi.
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