Birth of Fernando

On the 7th of January, 1949 Isabel Costa gave birth to a son called Fernando Manuel Leal Costa. They lived in the family home in Silva Porto, Angola.


Fernando grew up with his Mum - Maria Isabel Soares Leal Costa, Dad - Fernando Rodrigues da Costa, his sister - Maria de Fátima Leal Costa Lopes and his brother António Pedro Leal Costa.

Fernando was a very intelligent student but not very well behaved. As a child he got a lot of lashes from the hippopotamus skin whip (which was okay then, not so much now!)

Family Life

Fernando and his wife Filomena (My grandma) lived in Lobito where they had their first child, Erica Paula. Erica was born during the middle of a civil war which was giving Angola independence from Portugal.

During this time it was so unsafe with people shooting everywhere so at times they had to sleep in the corridor. The hospital wasn’t considered safe for Filomena to go and deliver Erica. So during a quick break in fighting they managed to sneak by car to the private hospital.

Filomena become pregnant for a second time with my Mum, they decided it was no longer safe in Angola so they escaped to Portugal where Rita was born.


Fernando completed his first couple of years of primary school at home because he was too young to go to school. When he turned 7 years of age he started school.

Primary school in Angola was nothing like the school system we know now. Angolan primary school consisted of four years, where students had to sit exams each year.

When he finished primary school his father was transferred to Silva Porto where he lived with his family for a year.

From Silva Porto they moved to Nova Lisboa, where he attended high school. When Fernando was 18 he went to university and studied Electrical Mechanical Engineering

Their Chosen Field of Work

When Fernando completed his study on Electrical and Mechanical Engineering he went on a six month hunting expedition.

At the end of his expedition 6 months he had to join the Portuguese Army which was compulsory for all males from the age of 21, but due to his studies Fernando didn’t go until he turned 22.

Fernando spent 4 years in the army where he attained the rank of Lieutenant. He spent 2 years fighting on the front line and received a bravery award.

Once discharged from the army Fernando got a job in Lobito as an Electrical Engineer with a power generation company called Hidro Electrica do Alto Catumbela.

What motivated him ?

He’s luck was running out quickly, 3 months after moving to Portugal and Rita being born the family were on the move again.

They lived in Macau and then Nauru but none of these countries felt right to provide a secure life for him and his family. So he moved again this time to Melbourne, Australia.

After living there for 2 months they moved to Tasmania where Fernando got a job at the Burnie Paper mill. They decided that Tasmania was the perfect place for them.

What challenges did he overcome?

Fernando overcame a lot of challenges and that is what made him who he is today. He grew up with little money, but now doesn’t take anything for granted.

Moving around so much and having to make new friends and adapt to new surroundings required a lot of courage and he did so with pride of where he came from.

Growing up with little money meant he had to make do with what he had. He would build rafts out of the materials he found and would go fishing.

Having gone through not one but two wars was by far one of the biggest challenges.

What did he do?

Growing up Fernando was a very smart student and he excelled in all of his classes. Through his 18’s he studied Electrical Mechanical Engineering, then in his 3rd year of studying he started teaching Applied Electricity which he ended up doing for 2 years.

After studying Fernando went on a 6 month hunting expedition. After 6 months Fernando joined the Portugues army. After 4 years of being in the army, he was ranked lieutenant where he spend 2 years in the front line and received a bravery award.

Then after being discharged he got a job in Lobito as an Electrical Engineer. After he moved to Portugal he was offered a job with Macau electrical Company in far East Asia. After working in a lot of different places Fernando set his eyes on Australia. After a long process of immigration the whole family moved to Melbourne then Burnie, Tasmania.

What did he bring to Australia?

Along with bringing his culture and ideas, he also brought life skills. Having gone through a civil war made him resilient and a true asset to Australia.

Fernando brought a lot of experience, and when necessary he would use his skills learnt in the past to Australia.

Fernando and Filomena moved to Brisbane from Nowra once the girls left home and this is where they live now. His still has family in Portugal, Brazil and Angola and at every opportunity he tells them about this amazing country. When relatives around the world visit they are in awe of this beautiful country we call home.

Has he helped or inspired others?

Fernando has helped a lot of people in his time. He fought in the war and helped keep his country safe. Even though a lot of people would’ve died in the war he and a lot of others helped the future generations of Angola and Portugal.

What areas did he improve?

The area I think that my Pop improved in was, making Australia a more multicultural country. He brought not only his children and wife, but many of his friends and other family members moved to Australia and had children, grandkids and etc.

Also because people might of not be very welcoming of other people from a different country, but now Australia is a multicultural country.

How can this area still be improved?

When Rita and Erica (My Mum and my Auntie) came to Australia and started school, some people picked on them due to them being a little bit different to them. Though as they got older they learnt to cope with this. This area can be improved if we try our hardest to help people feel comfortable and we welcome them and their families to this beautiful country.

What are we doing in these areas?

My Pop, Nan, Mum and Aunty were sometimes treated differently, but things got better as they grew older and people grew more accepting of other races, culture and religions.

In 2020 Australia has many people from different countries and cultures and Australia has grown to be a multicultural country.

Personal Reflection?

Having heard what my Pop went through has made me realise that everyone is stronger than they think. My Pop went through a lot but he learnt that you should never take anything for granted because he knows that everything can change in a second. We all have the power to make a difference, it is whether we chose to or not.

In my opinion my Pop made a difference.


      • (2010). Site Map. [online] Available at: [Accessed 15 Oct.2020]