Glory and Gratitude

Mauritius Times – 60 Years Ago

By Somduth Bhuckory

The Municipality of Port Louis has agreed to give a place for the erection of Manilal’s statue in the Company’s Garden – in the garden which is opposite the Hindu Maha Sabha to be precise. This grant goes to the credit of those who are at present in office at the Municipality and they deserve to be congratulated for their generosity and courage.

Never before, we believe, an Indian has been the object of such high consideration. No wonder then some people cannot get reconciled to the idea of having the statue of an Indian in the very heart of Port Louis.

One would have expected the first thrust from Felicien Mallefille Street but it came from St. George Street. The two streets have perhaps merged into one as the fourth and fifth fingers of Mr Koenig, and so what is in the mind of one is also in the mind of the other. Anyway, Le Mauricien came out with a nasty bit of disguised contempt last Friday in the form of a manchette: ‘La gloire et l’esthétique’.

Le Mauricien expressed the fear that the beauty of the garden might be spoilt by the statue. The manchette writer must be imagining a hideous Manilal wearing a loincloth and a turban. How will not such a thing wound the aesthetic sense of some people? Well, they have to find some pretext for grounding their disapproval. The statue will be a blemish, hints Le Mauricien but in the fair name of esthétique it has revealed more than its concern for beauty spots. Does it honestly think that in their enthusiasm to crown glory with gratitude, Indo-Mauritians are going to put up something which will not suit a hero or a public garden?

The next day Le Mauricien had a variation on the same theme. The manchette writer this time quoted a BBC critic as having said: “pour les générations nouvelles, un monument est moins un homage qu’une oeuvre d’art.” Does Le Mauricien sincerely believe that Indo-Mauritians cannot pay homage to one of their heroes properly? Does it mean that everything is just a show?

Now Felicien Mallefille Street too has shown its reaction. One ‘Travailleur’ in a note headed ‘Contrastes’ and published in Le Cernéen of last Tuesday speaks of Anquetil and Rozemont as being the idols of workers, who died before Manilal and remarks that nobody has said anything about erecting a memorial in their honour whereas Manilal who died recently is getting one.

Le Cernéen, it will be found, does not care for any esthétique. It is out only to show that Indo-Mauritians are communalists. By the way, it does not say what Manilal did half a century ago to alleviate the lot of workers who were at the mercy of the masters. But to drive a wedge between Indo-Mauritians and Creoles, Le Cernéen has not hesitated to go to the length of implying that priority of death should prevail over priority of service. On the other hand, Anquetil has got a street after him and Rozemont a Square. Who say that they have been forgotten? And let it be added that the Committee which is erecting the memorial has no connexion with the Labour Party.

Whether Le Mauricien and Le Cernéen like it or not, the foundation stone of the statue of Manilal Doctor will be laid on Sunday the 13th instant. The caravan will go on no matter how bietter the barking.

* * *

Appointment of Head Teachers

The appointment of head teachers is one of the most baffling problems of the Education Department. It tends to satisfy a few by causing frustration to many. Teachers as well as the public are anxious to know the secret behind the appointment.

Only last month six teachers have been promoted to become head teachers. If you have a look at their names, first of all you will start wondering whether discrimination is not at work somewhere. But that is not all.

What makes you feel uneasy really is that there is a good number of other teachers with the same qualifications and with equal if not more time of service who have been bypassed. What is the factor which secures the promotion of one and the lack of which is responsible for making another mark time? As long as a reasonable explanation is not given the feeling will persist that favouritism has displaced justice and fair play.

There is a great deal of talk of communalism in public life. We would like some responsible person or body to study what havoc communalism is creating in the Civil Service.

Whenever there is something wrong in a department, there is a tendency now to appeal to the minister in charge of the department. We refrain from doing so because we have been given to understand that in matters of promotion ministers are not worth more than the man next door. Promoting teachers is the joint business of Mr Snell, the Director of Education, and the Public Service Commission.

Mr Snell has to assess the merits of first-class teachers before the PSC is called upon to sanction any appointment. Does the Director assess their merits by just putting them a few simple questions? Or does he also take into consideration (a) time of service, (b) good work, (c) clean character, (d) certificate, (e) punctuality and regularity, (f) head teacher’s report, and (g) superintendent’s report?

Until recently the PSC had nothing to do with the appointment of head teachers. There was discontent regarding some appointments and it was expected that the PSC would set matters right. But the hope has not been fulfilled. That is why people think that PSC or no PSC, the result is the same.

How then can justice be done to the deserving teachers who have been discarded? Can Mr Snell go on recommending anybody at their expense? Have the teachers no remedy to redress the wrong done to them?

We appeal to the representatives of the people to look into the matter.

Friday 4th October 1957
4th year – No 165


* Published in print edition on 1 June 2021

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