Points to Ponder
A First Point: After the general elections, some followers of the MMM have voiced the opinion that it is high time that Paul Bérenger should take his leave as the leader of the party. My opinion has always been and it still is that Paul Bérenger is the MMM and the MMM is Paul Bérenger; the one cannot exist without the other. The reasoning is simple: those who consider themselves as forming part of the minorities should have a political leader of their community but they do not have a politician they can consider as a leader, so they have to fall back on Paul Bérenger. Even a section of the Hindu community, which considers itself as part of the minorities, follows this reasoning and considers Paul Bérenger as its political leader. Those persons who say that Paul Bérenger should give up the leadership of the MMM do not realize that there is nobody at the present time who can take the place of Paul Bérenger. There will then be so many mini-political leaders, each representing a section of the minority that there will never be some semblance of unity among the minorities.
What is the reason for which Paul Bérenger is being requested to step down? There are two main reasons: the first one is that he has been the leader for a long time and that he must make way for somebody with a fresh outlook, with new ideas, who can have around him young politicians, especially those who have a solid intellectual background but at the same time with the background of the MMM political philosophy. This is a tall order, but if it can be achieved it will be for the good of the MMM.
However, where is the MMM going to look for such a leader? I sincerely do not think that the persons responsible will be able to find him, because he does not exist. The MMM can find so many leaders as we have minority communities, tot homines quot sententiae, as the Romans used to say. But the MMM does not need so many small leaders, it needs one strong leader who will be able to lead all the members of the minorities in one solid group. I do not see this happening in a foreseeable future, because each minority group will say that that somebody from its particular group must lead the party. There will never be an agreement as to which person and from which group should lead the party.
Paul Bérenger has been able to get the minorities, or at least a majority of them in the MMM and he does what he thinks is best for them. I am not saying that all the minorities are with Paul Bérenger, far from it. In some cases, up to 75% of the members of a minority are not with the MMM. Neither am I saying that all the members of the majority community are against him. We have witnessed that even during the last general election, some members of the majority community have sided with Paul Bérenger.
For reasons of practicability, but more so for the very existence of the MMM, Paul Bérenger must continue to lead the MMM, and this so long as he will have the will to do so.
The second reason for which some persons want Paul Bérenger to give up the leadership is that he has been talking too much as the leader without bringing the desired results. Politicians who are active expect to succeed in the political field, but the MMM politicians, in spite of their best efforts to win the last general election and subsequently form the government, lost the election heavily in term of seats, and this is what counts in an election. They say that Paul Bérenger is not acceptable by a large majority of the electorate and therefore he should voluntarily resign as the leader.
Those persons also say that past experience has clearly shown that if the MMM continues with the same leadership, it will never win an election, at least for the National Assembly. Maybe if the MMM were to go into an alliance with a strong party, it might form part of the government, but the MMM will not be able to claim to be the leader and therefore the post of Prime Minister will be out of hands of the MMM.
However, the MMM says that it has to be a party that can win a general election on its own, have its own Prime Minister and govern the country according to its own philosophy and its own programme. Or even if it will have to fight an election in a partnership, the partner will be a very small party indeed, in such a way that the partner will not have any influence.
Who is the politician in the MMM as of now who can even think of taking the place of Paul Bérenger? Maybe Alan Ganoo or Steve Obeegadoo or even Arianne Navarre Marie? Choosing any of them as leader will kill the MMM prematurely, as from what I understand, these people cannot even reach the knees of Paul Bérenger, so short are they compared to the political height of their leader.
So the situation is such that the MMM will have to accept Paul Bérenger as the leader for a long time yet. However, the members of that party will have to accept at the same time to stay in the opposition, in spite of all the bravado. They cannot exist without Paul Bérenger but with him as the leader, the party cannot succeed. Ils sont dans une situation cornélienne. Que faire?
The Media’s Bandar-log
A Second Point: Existe-t-il une différence entre les Bandar-log de Rudyard Kipling et certains de nos journalistes, qui prétendent être indépendants mais qui, en vérité, ne le sont pas ? Cette différence serait-elle minime ?
J’ai lu, il y a fort longtemps un célèbre ouvrage en français, supposément écrit pour les enfants, mais plutôt lu par les adultes : c’est ‘Le Livre de la Jungle’ de Rudyard Kipling.
Voyons ce que dit Rudyard Kipling à ce sujet.
Je me rappelle de l’épisode où Mowgli, l’enfant humain, élevé par une famille de loups avec l’aide de Balou et de Bagheera, est capturé par les Bandar-log et de la manière dont il est traité pendant sa capture.
Qui sont les « Bandar-log » (ce terme n’est pas de moi mais de l’auteur lui-même) ? Les Hindous et les Musulmans devraient théoriquement le savoir et les autres peuvent demander à leurs voisins la signification de ce terme.
Je cite textuellement une partie de cet ouvrage ci-dessous :
“Les singes appelaient ce lieu leur ville, et affectaient de mépriser le Peuple de la Jungle parce qu’il vit dans la forêt. Et cependant, ils ne savaient jamais à quel usage avaient été destinés les édifices ni comment y habiter. Ils s’asseyaient en cercles dans le vestibule menant à la chambre du conseil royal, grattaient leurs puces et faisaient semblant d’être des hommes ; ou bien ils couraient au travers des maisons sans toits, ramassaient dans un coin des plâtras et de vieilles briques, puis oubliaient les cachettes ; ou bien ils se battaient, ils criaient, se chamaillaient en foule, puis, cessant tout à coup, se mettaient à jouer, du haut en bas des terrasses, dans les jardins du Roi, dont ils secouaient les rosiers et les orangers pour le plaisir d’en voir tomber les fruits et les fleurs. Ils exploraient tous les passages, tous les souterrains du palais et les centaines de petites chambres obscures, mais ils ne se rappelaient jamais ce qu’ils avaient vu ; et ils erraient ainsi au hasard, un à un, deux à deux, ou par groupes, en se félicitant l’un l’autre d’agir tellement comme des hommes. Ils buvaient aux réservoirs dont ils troublaient l’eau, et se mordaient pour en approcher, puis s’élançaient tous ensemble en masses compactes et criaient :
— Il n’y a personne dans la Jungle d’aussi sage, d’aussi bon, d’aussi intelligent, d’aussi fort et d’aussi doux que les Bandar-log.
Ensuite, ils recommençaient jusqu’à ce que, fatigués de la ville, ils retournassent aux cimes des arbres, dans l’espoir que le Peuple de la Jungle les remarquerait. (…)
Et, au lieu d’aller dormir, comme Mowgli l’aurait fait après un long voyage, ils se prirent par la main et se mirent à danser en chantant leurs plus folles chansons. Un des singes fit un discours et dit à ses compagnons que la capture de Mowgli marquerait une nouvelle étape dans l’histoire des Bandar-log, car il allait leur montrer comment on entrelaçait des branches et des roseaux pour s’abriter contre la pluie et le vent. (…)
—Tout ce qu’a dit Baloo au sujet des Bandar-log est vrai, songeait-il en lui-même. Ils sont sans loi, sans cri de chasse, et sans chefs… rien qu’en mots absurdes et en petites mains prestes et pillardes. (…)
Tout meurtri, las et à jeun qu’il fût, Mowgli ne put, malgré tout, s’empêcher de rire quand les Bandar-log se mirent, par vingt à la fois, à lui remontrer combien ils étaient grands, sages, forts et doux, et quelle folie c’était à lui de vouloir les quitter.
— Nous sommes grands. Nous sommes libres. Nous sommes étonnants. Nous sommes le peuple le plus étonnant de toute la Jungle ! Nous le disons tous, aussi ce doit être vrai, criaient-ils. Maintenant, comme tu nous entends pour la première fois, et que tu es à même de rapporter nos paroles au Peuple de la Jungle afin qu’il nous remarque dans l’avenir, nous te dirons tout ce qui concerne nos excellentes personnes.
Mowgli ne fit aucune objection, et les singes se rassemblèrent par centaines et centaines sur la terrasse pour écouter leurs propres orateurs chanter les louanges des Bandar-log, et, toutes les fois qu’un orateur s’arrêtait par manque de respiration, ils criaient tous ensemble :
— C’est vrai, nous pensons de même. »
Ainsi, nous apprenons que les Bandar Log excellent dans l’art de se juger et ils le disent : “C’est vrai, nous pensons de même”. Et je crois que certains journalistes de chez nous sont comme les Bandar-og de Rudyard Kipling : ils disent qu’ils sont indépendants mais qui a jugé et porté ce jugement ?
Tout comme les personnages de l’ouvrage de Kipling, ils ont jugé eux-mêmes qu’ils sont indépendants. Par conséquent, je ne vois pas de différence ou de distinction entre les Bandar-og et certains de nos journalistes qui se disent indépendants.
Il vaudrait mieux laisser aux autres le soin de vous juger à votre juste valeur, ceux qui auraient la capacité de le faire avec du recul. Et volontiers, j’accepterai leur jugement.
Juvenile delinquency on the rise
A Third Point: We have learnt from different sources that juvenile delinquency has been on the rise. On top of this, school children have taken to skipping schools and that not only boys, but girls as well. The practice of “l’école buissonnière” has always existed and so has delinquency, but it is all a question of degree, of intensity and what the youngsters do when they skip schools or when they become delinquents.
Who is to be blamed when youngsters turn delinquents? First of all, I will say the authorities, more especially the ministers who have the responsibility to prepare them for their future. Those persons responsible just ape the western world where a different culture prevails and anyway, their method of living is completely different from ours. I am sorry to say that our politicians have no knowledge whatsoever of the very bad influence that they inculcate on our youngsters through their policies which they do not understand at all. I will ask those politicians if they agree with their own policies and if they really bring up their own children according to the policies that they prepare for other children and parents.
Who believes that a child cannot be brought in the right path by the use of a ruler, a stick or a slap? Ask any parent if a child can be brought up without a proper “correction”? Ask the ministers and others responsible and you will get the answer. Have they ever heard of the locution “spare the rod, spoil the child”? I do not think that they have ever come across this saying, and it is not too late to learn. Let them find out the real meaning and then we can ask them if they agree with this saying.
But unfortunately, now we have the rights of the children, sixteen rights, I am told. What about their responsibilities? And then you have people with fat salaries doing just the contrary of what they should be doing. They help children to turn into delinquents because those children have been taught that no one, neither the parents nor the teachers can punish them.
More than the authorities, the parents themselves are doing everything possible to give up their responsibilities as parents. It is the duty of the parents to bring up their children as we were brought up and instill some manners as to how they should behave. But nowadays, parents are more concerned to earn as much money as possible and spend them on pleasure activities. Let the children grow up as they will, who cares. This who-cares attitude is prevalent everywhere.
Nowadays, both mother and father go to work, they live away from the parents and other relatives and the children are left in the care of the supposed teachers for part of the day. And according to the regulations and the law as well, a teacher is not allowed to use corporal punishment if the children misbehave. If he does so, the law will visit him. In the circumstances, the teachers have given up the duty to punish those pupils who deserve to be punished. After all, the children are left on their own, the law is against well deserved punition be it by the parents or the teachers and at times the parents themselves go against the teachers with violence. In the circumstances, why care for such children, they try to teach them, and that is all.
Juvenile delinquency will go on increasing. All because of the lopsided policy of the authorities and because of the could-not-care-less attitude of the parents. I am sorry for our future. And here I am pointing my figures at the Brigade des mineurs, the Children’s Development Unit, the Ministry of Education, the Ministry responsible for family matters and of course the parents, who should bear the greatest responsibility…
Bataille du Vieux Grand Port
A Fourth Point: Do we have any real historian in Mauritius or are all those who claim to be historians just make-believe historians? These days we are called upon to celebrate the “Bataille du Vieux Grand Port” supposed to mark the conquest of our inland by the British from the French.
I am told that the English lost the “Bataille du Vieux Grand Port” but the war continued. And after some months, the two belligerent nations fought another battle in the northern part of the country. This took place at Montagne Longue-Creve Coeur and the English won. Following this battle, the French had to give up possession of the island and it became a British possession.
Indian soldiers fought side by side with the British and they played a major part in the conquest of the country. The Indians of those days and their descendants are proud of the part played by their countrymen in the country in which we live. But more than that, why is it that the Indians have not been given credit for the part they played in the conquest of the country?
Should I ask the Minister responsible for the organisation of the “celebrations” to look into this matter and tell us what is the truth? He can start by looking at the various documents and the research papers of Prahlad Ramsurran, who has done a very good job on the subject.
A Fifth Point: We are sorry that prisoners have caused a riot in the prison at Grand River North West. Who is to be blamed? Definitely not the Police Force, for the sole responsibility should be borne be the Commissioner of Prisons. He has been too soft with those in the Prisons, either on remand or as prisoners. Maybe I will have something to say on this subject later on.
* Published in print edition on 1 July 2010