Miss Lakeman and the Powers of Nomination

Mauritius Times – 60 Years Ago


Some time ago Miss Lakeman wrote in Advance that the powers of nomination were destined and in fact used to redress injustice done by the electorate. We argued that in this island of the dead dodo the powers of nomination are used to perpetuate the rule of the privileged minority. Miss Lakeman is not happy but refuses to come out of the world of theories.

In the Mauritius Times of the 1st inst. she writes: “Your argument from how the powers of nomination are at present exercised in Mauritius is as much as to say that, if the Governor gives money to a certain man to help him in misfortune, therefore he will continue to give money to the same man even when the misfortune has changed to prosperity. Nonsense!”

Yes. Nonsense, utter nonsense, Miss Lakeman, but you will now see, if of course you want to, that the nonsense is on your side and nowhere else. After the last general elections, only Conservatives — members and sympathisers of the Ralliement Mauricien, were appointed to sit in the Mauritius Legislative Council. To use Miss Lakeman’s analogy, Government gave money to help the Conservatives in misfortune. But what happened after the recent Town Council elections. The Conservatives were returned in majority everywhere but when the time for appointing nominees came, Government appointed a majority of Conservatives and allies and thus continued giving money to the same men even when the conditions of misfortune were absent and prosperity was reigning.

Do you see it now, Miss Lakeman? The principle behind the appointment of nominees being the same in the case of the Legislative and Town Councils, do you not agree with us that the Governor ought to have appointed a majority of non-Conservatives after the Town Council elections?

* * *

Hindu Hegemony At The M.B.S.

Writing in Le Mauricien of the 23rd instant, Mr Andre Masson asks, in an open letter to the Secretary of State for the Colonies, whether Shakespeare and Claudel would be replaced by “Hamari aap ki pasand”. Mr Masson’s letter, which smells of anger and Hinduphobia, draws the attention of his readers and the Secretary of State to the danger which threatens Western culture in Mauritius. Because the Tamil Cultural Association had dared to state that Indo-Mauritians ought to get a bigger share in the MBS programme even if that would mean a reduction in the General Programme, Mr Masson is angry and writes: “La culture occidentale dans ses manifestations les plus vraies est mise en demeure de quitter la colonie”.

To please Mr X or Mr Y we should not clamour for our rights!

Does Mr Masson honestly think that all the Mauritians should have equal opportunities and equal rights in any field? If yes, why he explodes? Mr Masson knows surely that Hindus read and study Shakespeare more than the members of his ten thousand strong community. The Hindus would no doubt welcome more about Shakespeare and his works in the MBS programmes but the anti-Hindus will never agree that Tagore, Radhakrishnan, Iqbal and Confucius deserve a place in the programme of the Mauritius Broadcasting Service. Will Mr Masson himself agree that talks on these great men of the East be broadcast in English, Hindi, Urdu, Tamil, Telegu and French? This measure will give satisfaction to the Indo-Mauritians and Chinese to whom the art, civilization and culture of the East mean as much as Western culture, art and civilization mean to Mr Andre Masson. If that is done, many among the ten thousand will get the opportunity to learn something about the East; their prejudice will then diminish and we hope they will join in the campaign for a more equitable distribution of the MBS programme.

Mr Masson’s use of the words “Hamari aap ki pasand” when he could have inserted the names of Tagore and Radhakrishnan side by side with those of Shakespeare and Claudel, shows his dislike for things Indian. The “Hamari-aap-ki-pasand” part of the Indo-Mauritian programme could be compared to the “Faites-votre-choix” part only of the General Programme. Of course Mr Masson is not obliged to like the East and its philosophy, art, culture and civilization though Frenchmen of international fame have a deep love for Eastern art & culture. He is free to join the anti-Hindus. We do not bear him any grudge. Thank you. Mr Masson!

* * *

The Delegation to London

Four of the delegates to London are members of the Labour Party. They stand for an ideal, an ideology and a programme. Two are members of the Parti Mauricien. They too have a programme and it is to fight the Labour Party and the Hindus. It exists because the Labour Party exists and the Hindus support Labour. Had there been 300,000 Muslims and only 80,000 Hindus in Mauritius, the latter would have been the most virtuous men on earth. Le Cernéen would have praised them all the time and a Parti Mauricien would have then been created to fight Muslim Hegemony. The Muslims would have become the dreadful monsters that the Hindus are supposed to be today by the Parti Mauricien. Behind all this farce there is the desire to maintain the supremacy of the oligarchy and nothing more. The two members are supposed to be independents. All those who have followed the line of action chosen by Mr Andre Nairac & Dr Celestin in the Legislative Council know by now where they stand. They have always been on the right with the Parti Mauricien.

As Independents of the right are they qualified to speak on behalf of those Independents of the left? We think that one right-wing and one left-wing Independent would have given a more representative character to the delegation.

* * *

Were we not right, Mr de Speville?

In Le Cernéen of the 15th instant, Mr G. d’Arifat, while referring to the Parti Mauricien about which he knows more than we do, wrote: “But the Mauritian Party, some two years after its formation, is still drifting without leadership, and without policy. The only force that keeps it together is fear of Dr Ramgoolam.”

Some time ago while discussing with Mr de Speville, General Secretary of the Parti Mauricien about the aims and policy of his party we did not question the leadership of the Party because we believed that Messrs Koening, de Speville were providing it. But we argued that in the Parti Mauricien there was a collection of anti-Hindus of different ideological convictions bound together by the fear of Hindu hegemony (?). We added that once they cease to invoke that fear of Hindu hegemony (?) the Parti Mauricien would collapse like a house of cards. What do you think now, Mr de Speville?


Friday 1st March 1957

* Published in print edition on 6 December 2019

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