Mauritius Times 60 Years Ago – 1st YEAR NO. 6 — SATURDAY 18th September 1954
Mr N.M.U. of the CERNEEN has been so much shocked by the facts we have marshalled in our articles in the MAURITIUS TIMES that he has consecrated his Opinion du Jour of the 16th Sept. to us.
For Monsieur Noel Marrier d’Unienville, Bernardin de Saint Pierre is not a serious authority. But has Bernardin alone written about the conditions of slaves and maroons in our island? Bernardin de Saint Pierre may not be an authority for Mr N.M.U. But Trelawny who visited our island later mentions facts which are more revolting. He mentions an episode of which he was an eye witness. A slave had entered the church, for which he was given such a blow on the head that the poor fellow died on the spot. The body instead of being buried in the churchyard was thrown by the seaside where it was left to rot and become the meal of vermins.
Let us for the moment put aside Pridham who may not satisfy Mr N.M.U. Is not St Elme le Duc a reliable historian? St Elme writes: “Le 18 Fevrier 1790 elle (L’aurore) fut assaillie par un ouragan si terrible qu’elle fut brisée sur la côte Africaine. Quatre cents noirs, qu’elle avait en chargement et dont on n’eût pas le temps de briser les fers furent noyés.”
Even during the voyage, the Negroes were bound in chains; how could then such people let slip opportunities to run away into the woods? If they were well treated, is there any earthly reason for them to leave the shelter of a roof and the comforts of a home to go into the woods, be hunted as animals and lead a life of semi starvation?
The fact is incontested that the liberated slaves (les affranchis) refused to work in the fields which reminded them of their servile conditions.
In what rank of historians does Mr N.M.U. place Henri Magny who says that half the number of the affranchis preferred starvation to work in the fields for their former masters the marks of whose coups de fouet they still bore on their body?
Mr. N.M.U. says that it is les blancs who abolished slavery of their own free will. He seems to have a poor knowledge of his history. Does he forget the attitude of the Colonists when Baco and Brunel were sent to Mauritius in the revolutionary period with the mission to abolish slavery? What was the attitude of most of the Mauritian Whites towards the Anti-Slavery Society?
Can Mauritius boast of any white of the type of Wilberforce whose life was a long tale of sacrifice in the cause of negroes?
About the “Conscience Chrétienne” towards slaves, we shall quote Louis La Croix: Les Derniers Négriers, a recently published book, in which we read: “Barthélemy de Lascusas, le célèbre prélat Espagnol qui avait pris si éloquemment la défense des Américans opprimés, était partisan de l’introduction des esclaves anx Indes de Castille et le Pape Leon X n’y mit pas d’objection, les africains n’étaient pas Chrétiens”. This shows that Christians are not always morally superior human beings.
History, very often presents before us facts which we should not try to evade which we should face with moral courage. Writing about our history does not mean making a campaign against whites; this according to Mr N.M.U. is a special quality of Indo-Mauritians. We remind him of the series of articles recently written by a well-known journalist on Remy Ollier in which we read of the tussle of the patriot against Mauritian Whites. Neither Remy Ollier was, nor the journalist is an Indian.
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More About C.I.D.I
Our article What is the C.I.D.I. has caused a sensation in the public. We have not only received several letters but some persons have called on us for further information about the bulletin published by the C.I.D.I.
“If there is nothing suspicious in the bulletin why is it not signed, why is it for private circulation only? Why this Ku-Klux-Klan like business?
“Democracy requires that any public news or opinion circulated with a view to influencing public opinion should be exposed to public criticism.”
We have been harassed by such and other questions from our readers. But the most disturbing question with which everyone is really intrigued is the part of the statement which says: “The bulletin is not only sent to officials of the Colonial Office but also to people prominent in public affairs in Britain, South Africa, Autralia and the USA who are likely to be interested in the future of our island and who will make known our real anxieties we are about to explain.” (Italics are ours).
The last paragraph is tantamount to an appeal for intervention by South Africans (Save our souls Dr Malan!), by Americans (Help! Help! Senator McCarthy!) and by Australians too, against “the Hindu Communalist menace”, against “Chinese-Hindu-Labour-Communist peril”, against Labour tyranny and what not!
But by seeking interventions of foreigners in our internal affairs the publishers of the Bulletin have shown complete distrust in the Legislative and Executive Councils, the Governor, the Colonial Office, the Parliament and in British Democracy itself. It would have been interesting to know the reaction of the publishers of the C.I.D.I. If the Labour Party or any other group would have requested people outside England “to make known our real anxieties”, what a hue and cry they could have started against it!
As the publishers use freely such words as “our island”, “our real anxieties” it must be made plain to the public and also to the press of countries where these Bulletins are sent that the anonymous publishers of the Bulletin do not voice the feelings of all the Mauritians!
Gone are the days when a coterie could dispose of the destiny of a whole nation. This is the century of the common man. The man of the street should be consulted before one speaks in his name, especially when one goes and begs not only sympathy but intervention abroad. It will give to many a shock of their life to read the stuff in the Bulletins.
Beginning next week, we will publish extracts from it. It appears that the local C.I.D.I. is a branch of an international Organisation which has its headquarters somewhere abroad. The Local C.I.D.I. is financed and run by a group of influential Franco-Mauritians who are against any change in the state of affairs in this country.
* Published in print edition on 26 September 2014