Mauritius Times 60 Years Ago – 1st YEAR No. 11 – SATURDAY — 23rd October 1954
C.I.D.I. not sent to Colonial Office
Mr Ibbotson writes: 100, Canonbie Road, London S.W. 23, England
Dear Mr Ramlallah,
Writing in Le Cernéen of September 24, N.M.U says of the monthly bulletin of his C.I.D.I. “Il atteint le Colonial Office… Cela nous fait penser que nous devrions l’envoyer sans plus tarder à la Fabian Society.”
I have telephoned the Colonial Office to find if the bulletin does go there. It is not in the Colonial Office Library; it is not received by that Library. I spoke to Mr Sidebotham’s department – for he deals with Mauritian affairs. No, his department didn’t get the bulletin; but perhaps Mr M. knew something about it. Mr M. asked, did. He gets the bulletin; he told me he gets it personally – the Colonial Office does not receive an official copy. Nor had Mr M. asked for the bulletin; it just started turning up, he said, completely out of the blue and unasked for.
H’m, thought I; does the bulletin go to Mauritius House (the Mauritius Bureau). On enquiry, I was told: “No, we don’t have copies.” So I tried the London Representative of the Mauritius Chamber of Agriculture. No, they didn’t have copies either; but they took my name and address for forwarding to Le Cernéen with a request that I be put on the mailing list of NMU’s monthly bulletin.
Up to October 11th, the Fabian Society hadn’t received any copies; despite NMU’s “envoyer sans plus tarder” to that Society. And Mr Johnson hadn’t seen copies either.
It certainly seems to me that the Mauritius Times’ comment of “Ku-Klux-Klannish” about the distribution of the bulletin is justified.
Mr Peter Ibbotson, a journalist of repute and a contributor of TRIBUNE – the paper without which “no Socialist is complete”, is much interested in colonial affairs. Mauritius has not escaped his attention. Some of his articles dealing with the Political and Economic aspects of Britain’s Colonial Policy have appeared in ADVANCE.
In the first instance we must thank Mr Ibbotson for having denuded the spurious campaign of Mr NMU, director of the century-old paper and promoter of the still-in-cradle Party of Law and Order. More than ever, it is now clear that Mr NMU has been deliberately deceiving his readers – whom we have no right to call naive – and all those in whose name he has been shouting from housetops, that “the bulletin is not only sent to Officials of the Colonial Office but also to…” (italics ours).
Whom must we believe: Mr Sidebotham, the Colonial Office, the Mauritius House, the London Representative of the Mauritius Chamber of Agriculture or Mr NMU? What pretext Mr NMU will find now to convince his readers that he has a “scrupuleux respect pour la vérité?
A GLIMPSE OF LOCAL HISTORY
Revolution in Ile De France
By D. Napal B. A. (Hons)
The French Revolution, as we all know, was the outburst of the French people against an oppressive aristocracy which had forged their chains and had kept them under subjection for centuries. In Ile de France there were no aristocrats, no privileged class against which the planers might rise with justification. If there were people whose heads were bowed under oppression, they were the slaves – these were not in condition to revolt with any hope of success. What, then, were the causes which led to the growth of the revolutionary ideas in our island?
It was the stupid imitation of the French planters of whatever was done in the metropolis, without giving any thought to the raison d’être of their actions that led them to be enthusiastic about the French Revolution. They had put it into their head to introduce here the innovations made in France in the sphere of politics, social life and religion. It is only when true to his faith in the cult of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity, Robespierre determined on the abolition of slavery, and exclaimed when told about its nefarious effects, “Périsse les colonies, plutôt qu’un principe” that that colonists cried halt. The revolutionaries placed a “potence à la lanterne”, for the hanging of those not amenable to their views and dressed at Plaine Verte, a guillotine which however, was not fortunate in its victims as its namesake in France. No human being was decapitated. It served later for the slaughter of a sheep – which proved to be its only victims. They adopted the Republican calendar, changed the royalist names of places in the colony giving them names more propitious to the republic – for example Port Louis was called Port de la Montagne (from the name of a revolutionary party in France) and Grand Port, Port de la Fraternité.
It all began on the 31st January 1790 when a boat anchored in our harbour, bringing fateful news. The crew, wearing the “cocarde tricolore”, dispersed themselves in the streets of Port Louis. They fired the imagination of those who listened to their stories. They explained that the symbols of the cocardes were those of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity, that France had abolished monarchy and the French people had taken the government into their own hands. The sailors met with sympathetic and even enthusiastic hearers. In the crowds which gathered around them there were idlers, among whom the majority were discharged sailors and soldiers and young hot heads eager for adventure. They were, in the words of Albert Pitot, “ardents à s’enflammer par les idées nouvelles, qui leur semblent grandes et généreuses, tout ce monde les presse de questions, les écoute bouche béante, trépigne d’enthousiasme, et ce, parés de cocardes dont ils ont les poches pleines et qu’ils distribuent à la ronde. »
The new ideas spread like wildfire throughout the island. Troubles began to occur. The Governor Conway at first wanted to cool down the enthusiasm of the revolutionaries by ignoring their actions. But he could not bear it any longer when inflammatory posters were stuck on the walls of the Government House. He had to bestir himself. He ordered the guards to remove the posters. When one poster was removed, ten were stuck in its place. It did not take time for local Mirabeans, Dantons and Barnaves to appear on the scene. Some of these had even the cheek to lecture the governor with a view to convert him to their ideals – it they had any.
The Revolution had one victim of note. It was the naval commander, Macnémara, who on his arrival to Ile de France, was shocked by the disorder on board the ships. In his attempt to enforce discipline, he roused the fury of the sailors who painted him in no flattering colours before the assembly. He was arrested, on board the THETIS, on the charge that he had treated the soldiers as cowards and traitors and the governor and the assembly as “gredins”. He was lynched by the mob, which followed him with cries of “à mort l’aristocrate, à la lanterne le traître”. Before any judgment could be passed upon him, he was brutality murdered and his head fixed on a pole was exhibited in the Streets of Port Louis, in a truly republican style.
Ile de France was in the turmoil of anarchy from 1790 till the arrival of Decaen in 1893. Political clubs, in imitation of the Jacobin clubs, were established in the island. What appears rather strange to us, is that the central club, “La Chaumière” sat in the Cathedral of Port Louis. The members of these clubs were the local ‘sans culottes’, the incendiaries who were out to fish in troubled waters.
There is one aspect of the Revolution which sounds rather humorous. At its outbreak, there were many men, in the island, who bore such names as le Duc, Château, Curé, Baron, which undoubtfully were not in fashion. The bearers of such names were therefore anxious to change them for those which would be more in keeping with the period. There was a comedian called Gally who pretending to be an illegitimate son of Louis XV, bad changed his name into that of Le Roy. When the Revolution broke out, he thought of keeping abreast of the times by calling himself “La République”. When the Revolutionary fire began to die out, he thought it wise to call himself again Gally. Somebody asked him his name. “Gally,” he replied. “Et votre prénom?” – “Matthias.” – Citoyen Gally, prenez garde qu’après avoir charmé l’île de France par vos talents sous le nom de Le Roy, qu’après avoir bien servi le gouvernement sous celui de La République, nous n’allions faire du « Gally Matthias. » (Souvenir d’un Vieux Colon).
UNE « PARADE DE CHARITE »
Des étoiles Tombent du Ciel…
Le 15 septembre dernier, la ville de Bombay fut le théâtre d’une manifestation unique qui fera époque dans les annales de l’industrie cinématographique indienne. Toutes les étoiles de l’écran étaient descendues de leur firmament pour se joindre à une imposante procession à travers les rues de la ville, organisée aux fins de recueillir des dons en argent et en espèce pour les millions de victimes que firent les terribles inondations qui dévastèrent l’Assam et le Bihar récemment.
Cette heureuse idée revint à Raj Kapoor, Nargis, Dilip Kumar, Motilall et quelques autres artistes qui, en présence d’un pressant appel que le gouvernement avait adressé à la nation pour venir en aide aux sinistrés, pensèrent qu’ils pouvaient, en payant de leur personne auprès de leurs admirateurs, réunir des dons substantiels. (Excerpts)
N. de la R. – Nous sommes heureux de constater que l’appel que nous avons adressé dans le No 7 de notre hebdomadaire en faveur des sinistrés d’Assam et de Bihar n’est pas resté sans écho.
Bien de lecteurs nous ont écrit pour nous promettre leur appui intégral. Entre autres, nous avons relevé la lettre d’un groupe de jeunes de Morcellement St André nous informant que l’ARYA KUMAR SANG de l’endroit a déjà ramassé une somme de Rs 140 à cet effet. C’est un effort très louable.
Il nous revient, d’autre part, que l’Indo Mauritian Association a déjà pris cette question en main, et compte lancer prochainement une souscription publique. Nous espérons donc que le public contribuera généreusement pour une cause aussi noble.
Sugar crops of the World
CANE SUGAR. According to WILLET and GRAY, reproduced by the International Sugar Journal, the estimated cane sugar crops of the world for the harvest 1953-54 is 24,964,099 long tons which shows an increase of 698,573 tons on the 1952-53 crop. There are 44 cane sugar producing countries. The biggest producer is Cuba with 4,813,202 long tons. Among the smallest group Mauritius tops the list with 511,979 long tons.
* Published in print edition on 24 Ocotober 2014