“NMU? — Je M’en Fiche du Gâteux!”

Mauritius Times – 60 Years Ago

By Peter Ibbotson

Splendid news from Port Louis! Mauritians in London were agog for the municipal election results, and jubilant when the news of the massive victory became known. The Parti Mauricien, Noel Marrier d’Unienville (N.M.U.) and Le Mauricien have been sent about their business; the workers have demonstrated that they are no longer to be fooled by the racial blatherings of Le Cernéen. No longer are the workers to be divided, Coloured against Hindu; the last three years have shown how wrong many people were to allow themselves to be duped by N.M.U’s prating of Hindu hegemony before and during the municipal elections of 1953.

Sefton Delmer of the Daily Express was in Mauritius for the municipal election of 1953; it will be remembered how he exulted over the defeat of Dr Ramgoolam in particular and the Labour Party in general. What a pity he wasn’t in Mauritius for the 1956 elections!

N.M.U. has been relieving his feelings, I see, by reviling me in Le Cernéen. If it gives N.M.U. any pleasures so to do, let him keep on doing it; I don’t mind. People know, and have demonstrated by their votes in the elections, just how much reliance to place on N.M.U. and the contents of his Opinions du Jour and other literary masterpieces which from time to time adorn the pages of one of the most ancient and most “reliable” newspapers of the world.

Among other things, N.M.U. has accused me of writing only what my “employers” – presumably Messrs B. Ramlallah and A. Beejadhur — want me to write. It may surprise N.M.U. to know that Advance and the Mauritius Times believe in the freedom of the press, and that Messrs Ramlallah and Beejadhur never know what I am sending them until it arrives. Obviously, I am going to write about some current topic of general interest; but just what, no-one in Mauritius knows beforehand. I, and I alone, choose the subject-matter of my weekly piece in the Mauritius Times and my occasional piece in Advance; though it is a certainly that if N.M.U. has been more than usually fatuous in his column, I will refer to that.

Much is said, by N.M.U., about me being “hired”. May I ask N.M.U. not to judge everyone by himself and his party? I happen to believe in Socialism and in the principles and policies for which my party stands. (That is more than N.M.U. can say; for he regularly moans about income tax whereas the manifesto of the Parti Mauricien refers to the present tax system as being fair.) No-one has to “hire” me to write about socialism and socialist principles; I believe in them and I propagate them without being “hired” to do so.

Of course, the reactionaries in Mauritius are skilled at this business of hiring people. They find coloured persons who are willing to accept money to spread insidious racial propaganda, and to stand as independents at elections in an attempt to split the workers’ vote and so let in a reactionary candidate.

Reactionaries the world over, at all periods of time, are skilled in this art of splitting the ranks of the workers. Unstable politicians are flattered at being sought after by the wealthy and powerful; and they are willing to betray their colleagues for a pension form the reactionaries. Judas Iscariot received thirty pieces of silver. Ramsay Macdonald received Tory support to keep him in office as Prime Minister. (But at least Judas did, in remorse, have the guts to commit suicide.)

Way back in 1885, the Tory Party in England, to split the popular vote in the constituencies of Kennington, Hampstead and Nottingham at a general election, provided funds so that the Social Democratic Federation (led by Hyndman) could put up candidates in those constituencies. With the people’s vote split between Liberals and S.D.F., the Tories reasoned, their own men would have better chances of getting in. One wonders how far that has been done in Mauritius?

One knows that at the 1953 Legislative Council elections, Hon A.R. Mohamed advised Moslems to vote for independent Hindu candidates in some constituencies — just to keep the Labour man out. (The Moka-Flacq by-election will give voters another chance to redress their 1953 error in being duped by false propaganda intended to divide so as to rule. The motto for the Moka-Flacq by-election must be “Vote Party, not Community”; people must not allow themselves any more to be tricked by community-minded reactionaries.)

If N.M.U. really believes that I am regularly primed with information from “subversives”, and that I merely reproduce this information under my own initials or name, why doesn’t he try to counteract this “subversive” information by sending me his monthly bulletin of information? Is it because he dares not let this bulletin of “information” be regularly seen by someone who would recognise it for what it is worth? By someone who would be in a position to explode the propaganda contained therein? But suppose I were given information by colleagues and friends in Mauritius — and I think I may claim to have numbers of both, — what would be the difference between me getting and making use of that information, and N.M.U’s. friends getting and making use of the “information” in his monthly bulletin?

It is, I know, of no use my sending anything to Le Cernéen for possible publication. The freedom of the press does not exist in Mallefille Street; N.M.U. has said so in his paper some time ago, in a paragraph of which I still retain a cutting. No refutation of N.M.U’s. baseless charges would appear in Le Cernéen if I sent one; so I confine myself to the Mauritius Times.

N.M.U. said once that I wasn’t capable of writing in the London Times; I sent him sufficient proof that I had done so. Did he refer to that in Le Cernéen; yes, but not till a few days ago; even then he didn’t have the grace to apologise, but added a cheap jibe instead.

Rightly, the people of Port Louis have demonstrated their contempt for the ignoble propaganda of Mallefille Street. They have demonstrated their faith in the party of the Future; rejecting the party that looks back not just to the Bourbons but to the days of the dodo. They put their faith in the labour Party; entrusted with that faith, the Labour Party has a sacred duty to perform — to fulfil its election promises and to show itself fully worthy of that faith.

And as for N.M.U. — the People have demonstrated their agreement with me when I declare: “N.M.U.? Je m’en fiche du gateux!”

(Mauritius Times, Friday 21st September 1956)


Le Renard et Le Bouc

Compère Bouc, qui ne voyait pas plus loin que son nez, allait de compagnie ave son ami, Capitaine Renard, des plus rusés.

La soif du pouvoir les poussa à descendre dans l’arène électorale.

Là tous deux rivalisèrent d’ardeur pour diminuer l’adversaire et rallier des suffrages.

Mais se voyant acculé par la vague populaire, Capitaine Renard se servit des épaules de son ami pour sortir du puits où, tous deux, ils s’étaient empêtrés. Quant au Compère Bouc, il y resta et fut bel et bien submergé.

Moralité: 7500 électeurs — 0 élu; 146 électeurs — 4 élus

(Mauritius Times, 14th Septembre 1956)


* Published in print edition on 30 November 2018

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