Il fait toujours bon de vivre à l’Ile Maurice…
— Dr R Neerunjun Gopee
Said a friend who had spent quality time with family and friends over the weekend, trekking in a picturesque part of the south of the island, and feeling refreshed to face the challenges of work that awaited him for the rest of the week. As we reflected together over his appreciation of the verdant landscape and the soothing effect that this had on him, we came to the conclusion that if everybody played their parts as they should, Mauritius still had a lot going for it in terms of the amenities available and the pattern of social life that prevailed. Of course, things were changing, but there were elements that remained that we should try to preserve at all costs, and these pertained to family life and the social circle of close friends belonging to all communities.
I could not agree more, for I live it constantly, as I am sure many of us do. No later than yesterday, at Trou-0-Cerfs, some friends were mange la tête of 80-plus year-old Ton Maurice because Tottenham had beaten Arsenal. There were loud peals of laughter shared by Ton Maurice too, and this created a good mood in the morning. Not being a great football adept, I could not understand the complexities of it all, because I know that Ton Maurice is a Man-U fan – but who cares, if it was about laughing things off, well why not take it at face value! It is no coincidence perhaps that at the same time a flock of birds was flying overhead, chirping in unison as they did so, and that added to the joyous atmosphere.
Now tell me, said a friend, of another place in the world where before going to work in the morning you can go walking around a crater, breathe fresh unpolluted air, soak your eyes in an expanse of varied greenery, feel a light cool breeze on your face, enjoy full-throated laughter with several friends, watch the sun rise and the clouds gliding smoothly even as they changed shape and colours with the sun’s rays lighting them up, listen to birds singing, look at the horizon merging with the blue sky, watch the outlines of mountain ranges in the distance taking shape in the emerging dawn… where indeed, in all the cities in the world we had travelled, could we be so privileged on a daily basis? Like it or not, there is a certain uniqueness about our little island in the sun, a definite charm. Made up of its natural environment and its people also, we agreed.
And that’s what everyone must always keep in mind, added another friend. No need to say that soon the conversation turned to the forthcoming elections, and everyone had his share of jokes and juicy bits to add to the cauldron! But on a serious note, it was agreed that all the leaders must speak a language of national unity and discuss ideas rather make personal remarks. Politics was like a football game, said some, and it is in the same spirit that those engaged in it should play. Some would lose and some would win, and that was the way it was, and should be accepted as such.
What was important was that all of us should be engaged actively in building the country together, and make it better for the coming generations, for it was our responsibility as adults to leave for them a legacy they could be proud of and that they in turn could take forward and strengthen further. The work of nation-building is never-ending and requires patience and perseverance. There was no quick-fix solution, and conversely, we had to be very careful so as not to destroy what had been laboriously constructed by those who had gone before us.
That’s what we must remember, it was concluded, as the various formations debate the future possibilities that face us as we move towards the 5th of May. We need peace, stability, dialogue, collaboration with each other so as to progress towards common goals. No one knows everything, and time and again we have seen that frank and open discussions throw up new ideas and lead us towards consensual positions that we had not even imagined would be possible at the initial stages.
Despite ups and downs, and many circumstances that were often beyond our control, we had been able to make forward movement on many fronts because of the sincere efforts and contributions of any number of our compatriots. There was no need to name names all the time, but the country would always be a work in progress, and there were unsung heroes about who continued to do their share of nation-building sans tambour ni trompette. Glory be to them.
Would I want to live anywhere else? Hardly…