MT 60 years – 2nd YEAR NO. 27 – Friday 11th February 1955
Will Algiers and Moroccan French Colons Terrorism be enacted in Madagascar?
Le Mauricien and Le Cernéen have published in extenso an article of Tana-Journal (Madagascar) entitled: Tananarive n’est pas Pondichery. Le Cernéen in an editorial note writes : “Nous avons souvent parlé de la volonté d’expansion de l’Inde dans l’Océan Indien. On nous a souvent contredit. Aux sceptiques nous dédions cet article, que notre confrère… ne nous reprochera pas de reproduire » (italics are ours). Who are those skeptics? Are they by chance the thinking Franco-Mauritians? Evidently not all Franco-Mauritians will allow themselves to be lulled by the fairy tales of NMU. Though the article was published in Le Mauricien and Le Cernéen on the same day (perhaps by mere coincidence) still Le Cernéen makes a humble apology: “que notre confrere…”
Monsieur Clement’s fit of hysteria
After going carefully through the article we are at a loss to make out why this fit of hysteria of the Tana-Journal. The only clue is that the Deputy Consul of India in Madagascar had the temerity to publish a Bulletin. But are not Bulletins published by the Indian Embassy in France, Belgium, etc? Does not the British, French or American Consulates and Embassies often publish Bulletins in countries where they are operating? Is there anything prejudicial to the French or Malagasy Government in the Bulletin? The Tana-Journal hardly says anything in this connection. Anyway after reading the Bulletin, Mr Roger Clement, the editor of Tana-Journal comes to some vague and silly “conclusions”. What drove him to those conclusions? Any fool after reading NMU’s repeated diatribes and invectives can come to the “conclusions” that the campaign of NMU is intentionally directed to prepare the ground for the retrocession of Mauritius to France. After making five authentications Mr Clement gives a rude warning in a tone which any responsible paper would never dare address to a diplomatic body.
The relation between India and France was never so cordial as it is today. It is to be regretted that Tana-Journal is sapping that cordiality.
Monsieur Clement’s threat
Concluding his article, Monsieur Clement orders both the local and metropolitan authorities to take immediate and firm steps or else « les Français de Madagascar… seraient forcés de considérer qu’ils ont à assurer eux-mêmes leur propre défense et à garantir eux-mêmes leur propre sécurité contre… Il risquerait de s’ensuivre des événements graves et regrettables. »
It is plain by the above threat that the Colons may take the law in their hands as in Morocco where the undercover “anti-terroristes” (as they call themselves) groups of French Colons, Agir, and the Organisation of Défense Anti-Terroristes, make the Moroccans shudder in their bones. They have become the headache of the Metropolitan government and are making the position of the French untenable.
The TIME, in its issue of the 31st January 1955, gives a detailed account of the terrorism conducted with the tacit complicity of the local police. TIME reports of a policeman having said recently: “Arrest Frenchmen for killing these Moroccan pigs? They ought to be given the Legion of Honour.” Not only Moroccans are their targets but even Frenchmen suspected of favouring the Moroccans by advocating peaceful compromise.”
Police cruelties in Algiers
In Algiers the police are operating organised torture chambers. Mr Guy Henriques, writing in the Tribune of the 28th January 1955 says: “Frenchmen – who frequently call themselves the most civilized people on earth – have lately been indulging in some very serious heart searching. The cause: persistent and detailed reports that the French police are operating organised torture-chambers in North Africa. Until recently the only paper to denounce these practices was the left-wing weekly France-Observateur, but now the cause has been taken up by François Mauriac, the famous Catholic novelist who writes a weekly column in the pro-government l’Express. “It is a symptom of the fearful decadence of our sense of justice,” Mauriac writes, “that here in North Africa where we claim to bring civilization, we have brought instead our own version of the Gestapo.”
“Among the torture instruments,” continues Mr Henriques, “are complicated and expensive electrical shock-machines. And some of the men who operate them, it is claimed, were once members of the Vichy secret police… the Bishop of Algiers has now launched a vigorous campaign against illegal police methods in his diocese. But in the present state of North Africa it is almost impossible to prove such charges in a court of law. Local officials are solidly behind the police. And many of those who have suffered are afraid to give evidence for fear of worse.”
The Colons new craze
In Pondicherry there were hundreds of cases of the police having bullied and persecuted those who were in favour of the annexation of Pondicherry to India.
Should the Colons of Madagascar fabricate a pretext to launch a campaign of terrorism against the Indian community, it will reflect upon the good relations of India and France. In conclusion, should we add that there seems to be a craze these days among French Colons in French colonies and elsewhere to take the law in their hands. Is not Monsieur Noel Marier d’Unienville, the descendant of a French Colon, agitating for the creation of a Party of Law and Order in Mauritius as if the British government cannot maintain law and order in this colony?
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A Mauritian point of view on a question of principle
Reply to Civil Servant
Will you kindly insert the following in your esteemed independent weekly. In your issue of the 28th January last, I have been astonished to read a letter of one ‘Civil Servant’ asking for more Metropolitan Officers to fill responsible posts in our little country and I may add he goes forward in his acerb criticism against our Mauritian Officers; that critic let me doubt his origin, he seems to have been born on the Thames.
In my humble opinion I consider if sometimes it happens that Mauritian Officers are unpopular in responsible posts ‘Civil Servant’ may not forget that there have been many unpopular Metropolitan Officers in our Civil Service.
On the other hand, how many Mauritian Officers have served the country with great honesty and integrity to see at the end of their career their rights being frustrated by some privileged Metropolitan Officers.
As a principle it is the duty of our government to mauritianise our Civil Service and I am sure that the mauritianisation of all the departments of our Civil Service will help for better understanding amongst our heterogeneous community; nowadays time has come for us to look forward and to follow the path of the progress and if sincerely we want the political advancement of our little country, Mauritian officers should expect a better justice and equity from our Metropolitan Government.
For a last consideration may I say time has come when the colonialism era and the big superiority may come to an end.
Thanking you in anticipation,
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The Teaching of French
Is it Communalism to refuse French being imposed?
In the Memorandum on our educational problems sent to Sir Christopher Cox, K.C.M.G., on the 21st January last and which was subsequently published in our issue of the 28th January, we requested Sir Christopher to consider recommending the suppression of French as a subject for any competitive examination.
Some good friends complain that this question smack of communalism.
Had the Indo-Mauritians or the Chinese been imposing their language on non-Indians or on non-Chinese, it is only then that the question of communalism would arise. As French is not the official language of the Colony it is too logical that the non French-speaking people should refuse it to be imposed upon them. On the contrary are not those who are imposing their language on others communalists?
It is surprising to see how those very people whose thoughts and actions are tinted with communalism are quick to blame their neighbour of communalism. Normally a right thinking person is sympathetic to his neighbour if the latter wishes to know his language, understand his culture and respect his religion. For peaceful ‘co-existence’, if we are not prepared to learn the language and culture of our neighbour, we should refrain from making any prejudicial comments or any malicious campaign.
For comparison, we sent to Sir Christopher a copy of the French paper of the P. School Scholarship exam held in Dec 54 and a copy of the French paper of the GCE examination held in Autumn 1954. On a separate sheet we have printed both examination papers. Our readers, we hope, will find out how difficult was the French paper of the Primary School Scholarship Examination intended for children of 12 compared to the paper of the GCE Examination intended for adolescents.
Sir Christopher Cox, who is now aware of our linguistic problems wrote us: “I have since read them with great care and although I am not writing a report and it will not be possible for me to discuss in person with the authorities in Mauritius those points in your letter which had not previously come to my notice. I hope to have the opportunity of ventilating these with them in one way or other as soon as possible after my return to England.”
* Published in print edition on 27 February 2015