xanana gusmao

You are here:: About Xanana Profile


Xanana Gusmao

E-mail Print PDF

Full name José Alexandre 'Xanana' Gusmao. AKA 'Maun Boot' (Big Brother), AKA 'Katuas' (The Old Man).

Background: East Timor is colonised by the Portuguese in the 16th Century. When the Portuguese leave in 1975 it appears the colony might finally gain its independence. But Indonesia invades at the end of the same year. The East Timorese begin a 24-year struggle to liberate their homeland. More background.

Mini biography: Born on 20 June 1946 in Laleia, Manatuto, East Timor, he is the second son in a family of nine children. His parents are teachers. Gusmao is educated at the Jesuit mission of Nossa Senhora di Fatima at Dare in the hills overlooking Dili. After leaving school he works in various jobs in Dili - typist, draftsman, waterside worker and fisherman - before obtaining a permanent position in the public service and continuing his studies. While working as a journalist he takes the nom de plume 'Xanana'. The name will stick for the rest of his life.

1968 - Gusmao is recruited into the Portuguese Army to serve three years of national service.

1971 - His national service completed, Gusmao returns to the public service and begins to become involved in the Timorese independence movement.

1974 - The announcement by a new government in Portugal that it intends to withdraw from its colonies divides the East Timorese population and results in the formation of new political groups.