Samoorgum Modeliar Cunden, popularly known as Sam Cunden, was cremated on 24th May 2011 at Grand Pave, Laventure, not too far from his birthplace of 75 years ago, notably Belle Vue Maurel.
His is a story of someone who ascended from a poor background in a remote rural village to holding eventually the position of Managing Director of the Indian Ocean International Bank which he founded on the main street of Port Louis in 1978 together with several business friends. His father was the owner of a bullock-driven cart and his mother a seller of cakes. This difficult economic background acted as a continuous pressure on him to rise and show his mettle. He lived up to it, trying his hand in various occupations from proof reader in the Advance newspaper, to joining various clubs and societies, running a bookshop, founding IOGA, an insurance company in 1971 and a bank, IOIB, in 1978.
Going for an insurance company of his own and later for a bank represented important breakthroughs in a society in which certain sophisticated domains were out of bounds to the rest of the population who were not born fortunate and had not been to reputed educational establishments. Like him, there were others in that generation however who would not acknowledge defeat unless they were overturned in their attempt to cross hallowed boundaries. This is how he managed to go up to the level of Vice-Chairman of the Mauritius Bankers Association.
After the IOIB was be sold off to the State Bank of India, which had been on the lookout to purchase a domestic bank in Mauritius for some time, Sam Cunden stopped occupying an important part of the centre stage of business in Mauritius. He retired to his private life in Harris Street in Port Louis, way removed from the remarkable and scintillating path of success that had been his over so many decades. In his case, the path was more important, for having shown the way to others in that they need not remain a prisoner of their original wretched state for failing to deliver a good fight, than all the successes he had accumulated during his lifetime.
* Published in print edition on 3 June 2011