By Nita Chicooree-Mercier
Penalty Driving Licence as a solution to road offences is presented as a measure ‘inspirée du modèle français‘ . Generally, France is not known for being very innovative in any domain whatever. Whatever reform is set up in the UK and the US, be it positive or negative, usually makes its way to France a few years later. Penalty Driving Licence was first introduced in Germany, most probably, and it was applied in the UK before it made its way to France. But for the local journalists writing in French for the mainstream press, the permis à point can only be French. Maybe it is the side-effect of too much revelling in Francophonie expansion in Africa and the Indian Ocean region. The airline ticket for the journalist to attend the international summit is most likely subsidized by the OIF just as the language is. Soon, some Mauritians are going to look up to France as their métropole.
‘Bousculer des vieilles idées, … stimuler la réflexion au nom d’un seul idéal, celui du progrès et de l’union du pays…’ has been the guiding principle of l’express, and to illustrate his point, the journalist reminds us that in 1983, Dr Forget asked the question if ‘n’importe quel Mauricien peut-il aspirer à devenir premier ministre?’ Big deal! We were not aware that this question was of utmost importance in the everyday life of the good people. ‘Aujourd’hui encore cette question reste d’actualité à Maurice,’ the journalist goes on. It implies that a Hindu PM from 1968 to 1983 is a ‘vieille idée’ and in the name of progress and unity, the ethnic profile of leadership should change. This kind of question is supposed to be highly intellectual maybe just because it is asked in French. There is cause for worry!
Hammering such a highly progressive idea into the heads of people on the eve of every election is actually having the adverse effect. The country has real issues to address.
Does the use of a language influence the way we think? A foreign language just as a medicine acts like a foreign body that gets access to the inner part of your being, and depending on how immune you are, it may cause havoc on its way. Do those who use French in the press also import the ideas they were brainwashed with in the amphitheatres of French universities? We have seen how trying to get French style ‘laïcité’ down the throat of Mauritius has failed. Self-flagellation in press articles and readers’ comments is probably reminiscent of the religious influence that the language is imbibed with, which explains the propensity to find fault with Moris for any trivial matter and load the country with all sorts of epithets. Not to mention the whining, grousing and complaining that characterize the Gallic character tend to show in attitudes. Condescension and arrogance displayed by the users of the blessed language in their writings especially when they are lecturing others is no secret.
Neither is the Inquisition-like bitterness and fierceness of some opinion-makers. The most serious havoc is the superficial and simplistic modern western thinking which adopts a binary approach of good/bad, and for or against when it comes to discussing serious matters. The list can go on and on. So colonized are we that we hardly become aware of the tremendous damage done to our intellectual and mental landscape. Foreign languages are not only a blessing, they also create confusion in our way of thinking, French worse than English.
To keep the right balance in the use of languages in the press, it is high time we had an all-English daily newspaper in the country.
* Published in print edition on 26 November 2010