Sir Marc David, ever-iconic
We, friends and family, mourn the passing away, at 87, from the sequel of an implacable, unforgiving disease, of Sir Marc David, Knight Commander (KBE), QC, LLB, distinguished member of the Mauritian Bar, and Honorary Professor of Law at the University of Mauritius, from the late 1980s.
Knowledgeable folklore has it that from his winning of the English Scholarship at the Royal College in 1942, to read Law at the London School of Economics and Political Science, and his subsequent Barrister-at-Law at the Middle Temple, Marc David was destined for the Judiciary, having first sworn in November 1949, and then joined the Parquet (State Law Office) prior to entering the Magistracy. But fate decreed otherwise. A family bereavement meant his becoming the main bread-earner of a wider family – necessitating his translation into the private sector, where he was to shine no less gloriously, no less nobly, and no less conscientiously, forever on the fast lane.
Ever eager to serve the wider interest of the Law, Marc David made time to preside over the affairs of the Mauritius Bar Association, 1969 and of the Bar Council, 2001.
At the Réduit campus, Sir Marc will also be remembered, first, for his tenure of office as a member of the Provisional Council, 1965 – 71, and second, for his efforts concerning both the University’s budding School of Law, and for Law Practitioners’ Training courses, initially under the aegis of the Supreme Court.
Above all, he will be known for his visitorial enquiry of May 1980, to enquire into student unrest in 1979, and to review the Act, Statutes and Regulations, inclusive of the functioning of the various organs of the University and of the student organisations (Journal of the University of Mauritius no.7, Oct-Dec 1980, pp 3 – 95).
Those who were involved, at close quarters, under interrogation and cross-examination, in that enquiry would remember the thoroughness with which Marc David went about his visitorial enquiry, with a razor-sharp mind, devoted sense of duty, and undoubted charm. Even the student union, while initially reticent, skeptical and cynical, also realized that they, too, were engaged on a voyage of truth (paragraphs 59 – 60). Throughout Sir Marc clearly exemplified the ‘cardinal’ values explicated in his classic text ‘The Idea of a University’ by John Henry Newman (1801 – 90), now beatified.
More relevant here was what Marc David wrote in the foreword of his visitorial report:
‘Having been associated from its inception with the University of Mauritius as a Member of its Provisional Council and having ever since followed its progress with continued interest, I now put forward this Report in the hope that it will help to improve the functioning of the University and promote its objects.’
And even more poignant, was his accompanying quotation from the fiery Rémy Ollier (1816-45), teacher, politician and journalist, one which remains evergreen in meaning:
‘Le passé ne nous appartient pas; nous ne
pouvons pas le réparer ; mais il doit
servir d’exemple au présent pour améliorer l’avenir.’
Since the Law is not simply a set of theoretical formulae designed for near-robots in a sterile laboratory framework, but a set of principles and procedures to prescribe and deal with the conduct (and waywardness) of human society in all its complexities, Sir Marc inevitably has had to come across and deal with problems involving political and commercial priorities and perceptions – and invariably demonstrated his sense of independent propriety, even when serving as a member of the Electoral Supervisory and Boundaries’ Commission 1973 – 82; and all round, remaining, at heart, a Labour Cavalier!
The interest of Sir Marc, outside of the Law, was profuse and diverse, ranging from literature and the arts to horseracing and other sports. A complete, all-rounded person, Marc David was to exhibit implacable logic, handsomely clothed in old-fashioned courtesy, cloaked with cool confidence, and luxuriously wrapped with his own special brand of witty humour. What more could Dodoland ask?
Very occasionally, Mauritius presents to the world an exceptional gift. Marc David has been one of them: la crème de la crème!
We end with the Bible:
‘I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning
And the ending, said the Lord’ (Revelation, 1: 8)
Professor J. Manrakhan
When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.
— Kahlil Gibran
Sarita, our angel who breezed through our lives
Pampering us with the warmth of your unconditional love
But too soon gone, leaving us with the wanting feeling of doing more and more for you.
You always had a comforting word for each of us in our times of sorrow and despair.
It mattered not to you the wrong anyone would think or say about us.
Your affection for us and sincerity remained unflinching.
Terms of endearment so true to you
Tears of happiness trickling down your cheeks telling us how far our happiness mattered to you.
Paying no heed to your own frail condition, you were by our side in our times of need.
Your heart ached when we confronted adversity but your words of encouragement never faltered.
The memory of your admirable courage, your shining beauty in astounding simplicity lingers on.
Thank you for that compassionate smile and touch of yours which will remain with us forever.
Forgive us our shortcomings.
As your journey continues, unmanifest, proceed along the path of light
Rest at the feet of the Supreme where angels reside.
Hey Krishna, embrace our beloved gem and bless her with eternal peace.
Shanti Sarita. Deeply loved, sorely missed.