Meet Mr Fenner Brockway MP

MT 60 Yrs – 2nd Year No 59 – Friday – 23rd September 1955

Until we came into contact with Mr Fenner Brockway by cable at Acrra, Gold Coast, on the 12th of this month, it looked as if Mr Brockway would go back home after calling at our doorstep, Madagascar, and without stepping in. The occasion was unique and it would have been a great pity if we had let it slip.

Now it is crystal-clear that by requesting Mr Brockway to extend his visit to Mauritius we gave expression to a popular feeling. From the moment our communiqué appeared in the press a certain warmth pervaded the political climate. And the way people turned up at Plaisance to welcome our distinguished visitor is indicative of the esteem in which he is held.

We could have done everything concerning the stay of Mr Brockway in Mauritius. But we hated the very idea of monopolizing him. It was with great pleasure that we joined hands with the local Labour Party to elaborate a programme. We wish even non-Labourites to meet him.

Mr Brockway landed last Wednesday night and his plane will be taking off on Thursday the 29th. It is difficult to acquaint him with all our problems in such a short time, but we shall do our best.

Mr Brockway will be addressing six public meetings in different parts of the island. Apart from that, opportunities will be given to people to meet him privately. Make sure that you meet Mr Brockway before he leaves.

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Mr Brockway likes to see things for himself. He has visited Europe, Africa and America. He must be indeed rich in experience.

From his activities we can see what his political leaning is. It is easy to picture him to oneself as a dynamic and tough fighter for Freedom. By his persistent struggle for the cause of colonial peoples. Mr Brockway has become, beyond all doubt, their champion.

With his background and inclination, Mr Brockway is the right man to appraise the Labour struggle going on in Mauritius. He will be able to put it in the right context of Mauritian politics and see how it fits.

We do not expect Mr Brockway to be all praise. Nor will he be all censure, we like to think. But we do hope that he will bestow the benefit of his experience on us.

Mauritius will at least cease to be a vague geographical expression to our distinguished visitor. Mr Brockway knows that ours is a small island with a short past. We wish him to see how big are the problems staring us in the face. The Mauritian community is a family whose members belong to different races, profess different religions and follow different civilizations but they have at least one thing in common: their bread and butter depend on the one basket in which they have put all their eggs – the Sugar Industry.

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We should be falling in gratitude if we did not say how much we appreciate the support the cause of Labour gets in the English Parliament.

After having seen us Mr Brockway will be in a good position to speak on our problems. And we hope he will tell Mr James Johnson, the valiant Member for Mauritius, in what state the latter’s constituency is. Mr Johnson should also know how eager his constituents are to meet him.

Mr Brockway must have surely heard about the ghost of Hindu hegemony hovering over Mauritius. He will be no doubt interested to see how that ghost is haunting some minds. And as that ghost is made to appear on the scene whenever political rights are claimed, Mr Brockway will have to study its anatomy – should he catch hold of it.

At a time when the progressive people of this island have reduced their political aspirations to Universal Adult Suffrage and Responsible Government, it is important that somebody deeply interested in the welfare of colonials should come and assess our political maturity. And at a time when our Constitution is in the making in London, Mr Brockway, on his return, can tell the Colonial Office or Parliament how he feels about Mauritius. He will be sure to receive a patient hearing for the simple reason that he will be speaking from personal experience.

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It is not every day or every year that Mauritius can have the good fortune of welcoming an MP of Mr Fenner Brockway’s calibre and standing. We must tell him how glad and happy we are to meet him.

Fortunately the visit of Mr Brockway is not of an official character. That alone is enough to secure him a warm reception. An official sent by the government of the day is generally looked upon with some sort of suspicion. And Mr Brockway is not one of that class of sponsored people who go out to undertake research on the social structure of any particular community. In Mr Brockway we are sure to find a sympathetic and understanding friend ever ready to help with his advice and guidance.

Let us hope that Mr Brockway will blaze a trail and other MPs will follow. African journeys should henceforth include Mauritius. In the Mediterranean, in the Caribbean, in the Pacific, in the East and in Africa there are groups of British colonies. But in the Indian Ocean Mauritius is the only British possession of some importance. So, it has perforce to be associated with Africa.

We welcome Mr Brockway in our midst and wish him a pleasant and profitable stay, but alas! We are compelled to wish him Bon Voyage also in the same breath.

*  Published in print edition on 1 April 2016

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