Preservation of the Archives of Indian immigrants in Mauritius
By Trilock Dwarka
I was a news trainee at MBC sent by the Head of News, Jehan Zuel on 8th February 1975 to cover for the evening news bulletins, the damage done by cyclone Gervaise in the capital. Gervaise had struck the island on 6th February with winds blowing at 180 kms per hour, causing 10 deaths, 439 injuries and untold damage throughout the country.
Cameraman Mahen Jheelan had accompanied me. Assistant Head of News Rene Mallet was to supervise my report. Going to Port Louis through the highway was itself a sight to behold, with flattened sugarcane fields, electric wires and cables hanging low or lying on the ground, trees that had been uprooted with their branches and leaves littering the road between Forest Side and the centre of Port Louis.
Rene Mallet went his way looking for official news in the New Government Centre while I stayed with Mahen Jheelan who had started shooting the devastation that had been caused at Place d’Armes. Clearing work was in progress with municipal lorries loading the debris, the trees that had fallen and even some iron sheets that had found their way to that place. I even helped a little in the ‘déblaiement’ efforts instead of just watching the spectacle. We looked around and went after some time towards the place that was then known as Coolie Ghat. From far, it looked quite an odd place with some decrepit buildings that had collapsed partially. Bricks laid here and there.
I found the sight more strange when I reached the Ghat. I saw Mr Beekrumsing Ramlallah, whom I knew more as a politician than as a journalist during those days, busy picking up sheets of paper on the ground between the damaged structures of the depot. He was at times chasing documents that were flying in different directions as the weather was windy. I was twenty and could barely seize the importance of this rescuing effort. When I approached Mr Ramlallah, I found tears in his eyes. I asked him: ‘What’s happening to you, Chacha?’ He cried and told me that priceless documents have been destroyed and that the memory of our forefathers was being erased forever. I took one of the documents in my hands and found that it contained data related to an indentured labourer. Read More… Become a Subscriber
Mauritius Times ePaper Friday 4 November 2022
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