Faustian bargains

Carnet Hebdo

By Nita Chicooree -Mercier 

The sun never sets on the British Empire. The Indian answer to that was: Because it does not trust the British!

Trust the Brits to come up with all sorts of schemes to keep their hands on the Chagos islands. Successive governments have not been tough enough to demand that the Chagos islands be returned to Mauritius. Or Mauritius was too weak to demand anything. So-called democratic countries like Britain and America apply democratic principles to their peers in international relations but when it comes to the rights of small countries, their self-interest outweighs all sense of justice and sovereignty. Lalit has never wavered in its fight for the Chagossian cause.

There should be a national campaign to sensitize public support for Chagos so that every citizen in Mauritius and Rodrigues would be made aware of the necessity to build up a deep and constant solidarity on national issues. Those who are heading Lalit have the mettle and the political potential to achieve this goal.

By the way, Rodrigues should be given proper attention and should be made to feel part of the country before claiming other islands back to the national fold.

The co-management of Tromelin with France is a farce. What deal has there been with France to come to such an agreement? Two years ago, France laid its hands on Mayotte using the nineteenth century concept of nation-contrat thereby the island became French because its people want to be French. The French know the power of money on poor people and watch out if they scheme to strike the Faustian bargain with other islands! It is high time that former colonial powers pulled away from the Indian Ocean islands of Chagos, Tromelin, St Paul, Kerguelen and Amsterdam.

* * *

Alternative transport organization

Can we consider other options than feel compelled to apply whatever is being done in rich western countries? Car ownership can be considered on a collective basis in some parts of the country. People spend huge sums of money buying cars, which they do not use, everyday. A number of private-owned small companies or semi-public companies owned by municipalities in towns with fleets of ten to twelve second-hand cars may be a solution to individual ownership. In this system cars are rented to members of the public for half a day or a whole day or more at a reasonable price. You rent a car when you need one.

Private-owned bicycle companies may be another solution to dense road traffic in town centres and in the villages. Hire a bicycle for a few hours and bring it back. It is environmental-friendly as well as less costly. One may be tempted to shrug off any innovative methods and go on with routine as usual but sooner or later our consumer habits will have to be questioned.

* * *

Moi moi moi

Years ago, Maryse Condé, the Guadeloupean writer, wrote ‘Moi, Tituba sorcière’, a novel based on an authentic case of a Caribbean slave and her miserable life in those islands. A few years back, a Mauritian novel was entitled ‘Moi, l’Interdite’. Recently, the theme of the Festival Creole was ‘Mwa, Kreol’. How original! Depending on who uses the first person singular, the ‘moi’ may sound aggressive and indecent. A display of ‘je’ is probably due to the influence of the French language and the too emancipated individual citizen, very often to the point of self-hate.

By the way, does a language influence and distort the way we think?

Bonjour les dégâts! 

* Published in print edition on 4 November 2010

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