Let’s Honestly Face It!

The Two Cultures

We are all immigrants on this island. Immigrants from Europe, Africa and Asia. We have all contributed to its development.

Because we are immigrants from different places we cherish our ancestral cultures which help us to define our different original identities and know who we are.

Because we are immigrants from different places now living on a small island we have NO alternative but to develop new values to help us face the future TOGETHER.

In short we have to preserve what is good from our past ETHNIC values and at the same time develop positive NATIONAL values which will help us face present and future problems. Hence we all have to learn to negotiate a development path which does not ignore the TWO sets of values. Moreover over focussing in an obsessive way on one to the detriment of the other will be counterproductive.

However it is not always easy to keep the two in the right proportion. This is why nation-building in a plural society is not an easy task for the road is slippery.

It is good to teach our children our religious values but it is better at the same time to explain these values to people of other denominations without any proselytising secret plans.

It is good to teach children the identity language of your group but it is better at the same time to ensure that your children get their priorities right in terms of functional literacy and language(s) of overall development.

It is good that we use, if we can, our identity/ancestral languages in literary creativity but it is better at the same time to use the skills of translation or transcreation to make these works accessible in other languages.

Below is an attempt to share with non-Morisien readers the essence of a poem written in the de-facto national language of Mauritius.

POEM MORISIEN AN OTAVARIMA[1]

A LOOSE PROSE TRANSLATION

KAN BON NEPLI BON

Yer seki ti bon kapav nepli bon.

Ena valer yer ki ankor frengan

Me ena osi ki pe koul dan fon,

Ousa pe rale ar fardo prezan.

Lontan karo-kann ti donn nou fizon

Pou aste imen so prop karbiran

Me aster monwar nou bizen later

Pou plant pie manze pou nou bann frer-ser.

Lontan nou lamer ek zoli laplaz

Ti atir touris dan nisa tropik

Me aster lamer koumadir laraz

Pa respe baraz, kraz latant piknik.

Lontan tou ti senp pou zenn ek dan laz;

Aster get traver bous trou ar mastik.

Gramaten-tanto nou ti pe priye

Sen-Krwasans lao. Li nepli tande.

Lontan nou ti kwar fami-nikleer

Sime-nef ki garanti liberte;

Aster nou sagren larm granper-granmer

Ki pe rod regar zanfan egare.

Kouma zako nou ti imit akter

‘Made in dideor’ me ler nou gete

Nou pe perdi net veritab natir

Ki ti pou kapav ranz nou lavenir.

Seki nou ena zame nou pran kont

– Fam kot nou vwazen, ala li zoli –

Me zordi seki ti met dan lamont

Pe ronz nou laser kouma’nn maladi.

Bote nou kiltir nou pa gard dan kont;

Olie petal fler nou rod konfeti.

Aster ler tou pe vir anbalao

Nou akiz lezot pou tou nou defo.

Ler finn arive pou nou get fran-fran

Seki bon aster, pa seki bon yer.

Lavi azordi dimann lot lelan;

Dimann nou rezet lespri met aryer.

Kan sezon sanze, dan nouvo letan

Swazir bon lagren pou met dan later.

Seki ti bon yer aster finn vinn rann;

Aret fer teti ar sistem anpann.

WHEN GOOD BECOMES BAD

What was good may not be good now. Some values from the past may still be vibrant while others can no longer respond positively. Exported sugar yesterday allowed us to import food but now we need land to grow food for our brothers and sisters.

Yesterday the sea and the beach were reliable sources of touristic income but now the furious sea madly destroys. Yesterday things were rather simple for all but now suspicion jams communication. We used to worship GROWTH which it is now deaf and dumb.

Yesterday we thought that the nuclear family was a source of new freedom. Now tears in the eyes of grandparents looking for scattered children sadden us. We aped foreign stars only to find we’ve lost all bearings.

We scorn what we have admiring beauty next-door. But today what we used to exhibit has grown cancerous. We prefer to disdain natural beauty to adore paper flowers. Now that things are topsy-turvy we look for scapegoats.

It’s time to look for what is good now, not what was yesterday. Life now needs forward gear, not reverse rearview vision. When the time is changing find the right seed for the new time. Let the dead bury the dead.


[1] Sak strof ena 8 lalign; li rime dapre model AB, AB, AB, CC.

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