By Kishore Teelanah
Almost all Mauritians who came to Britain since the 1960s have made tremendous progress in various ways. The majority came to study Nursing during the time of high unemployment in Mauritius. Like the Indians, Chinese and some of Middle Eastern descent there are few other immigrants who have studied while working and gained such achievements as the Mauritians. This article gives an account of three Mauritians who have made an impact in Britain and abroad. Hopefully, these stories should inspire other fellow Mauritians and their children. One quality that makes these compatriots stand out is their ability to adapt and embrace the British society and integrate where some others have failed.
Kresh Ramanah came to UK in 1972 and embarked on a course in Nursing; simultaneously he founded Stardust Entertainment. From humble beginnings, this became one of the most successful Mauritian entertainment ventures in UK and Europe. Stardust became not just famous but also attracted crowds of 4000 to its indoor events in London, Paris and elsewhere. Kresh’s ambition and drive were never final and failure never fatal.
Kresh Ramanah receiving his Nursing Diploma from the Mayor of Wandsworth, South London (1995)
Kresh’s Stardust has brought almost every top sega artist from Mauritius to perform in London and Europe. Among them are Jean Claude, Claudio, Kaya, Bhojpuri Boys, Nitish and Ram Joganah, just to name a few.
Kresh Ramanah giving a speech on Mauritius Independence Day at Wandsworth Town Hall, South London (1995)
Kresh maintained a relentless drive to work, study and keep a watchful eye on his entertainment business. After completing his Diploma in Nursing, he had acquired several high level qualifications such as BSc (Hons) in Physiology & Pharmacology followed by postgraduate diplomas in Medical Ethics and Law. Kresh has also been active in charity work for several cultural associations in London: Mauritius Hindu Association, Mauritius Tamil as well as Marathi Societies in charity work. Kresh was given a well-deserved award by the Mauritius Hindu Association during Mauritius Independence celebration.
Kresh Ramanah with a Mauritian Achievers Award (2013)
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Dr Lock Sohodeb (also known as Sashi)
Dr Sohodeb came to England in mid 1970s after completing his HSC in Mauritius. Dr Sohodeb is a popular Bhojpuri vocalist and instrumentalist. He is exemplary in promoting folkloric songs, his culture and ancestral history. Sashi is also an active member of the Mauritius Hindu Association (UK). He goes out of his way to provide his full support to the association in charity work. He is known to have travelled extensively to promote the Bhojpuri language and folkloric music of Mauritius, Trinidad, Guyana and India.
Sashi also studied for honours degree in Social Science followed by MPhil and other postgraduate studies. His love for Indian music was so profound that he attended Hindi classes.
Sashi and friends with awards from the Mauritius Hindu Association (2013 & 2014)
Sashi honoured by Bhojpuri/Hindi Bollywood actors (2013)
He took up a teaching job in colleges and state secondary schools for several years. He then switched his career to a more challenging role in the Home Office as an Immigration Officer to date. In over 40 years that he has lived here, he has maintained a busy working life. Furthermore, Sashi is recognised as a fiction writer and successfully published ten books since 2011: A Diamond for Jasmine; Bihari Baabu; Heera; Bhojpuri Gunguna and Biography of Sunil Mungar – Life of a Dedicated Philanthropist to name a few. In addition to his professional successes, his love for singing and music led him to amass a staggering twelve achievement awards in the UK, Mauritius and India. No wonder he is given such admiration and importance across communities.
Another award Bihari Thakur Award – For eminent writer of Bhojpuri fiction/non-fiction
Sashi’s driving force behind his success is his wife Premila; children Roma and Yash and the Sohodeb family in Mauritius and close friends. He is amongst the few Mauritians to have reached such heights.
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Gyanchand (Sunil) Mungur
Sunil, as he is better known, is another successful professional who started with very humble beginnings when he first came to England in 1984. His life in Mauritius within a large family was one of hardship but his strong belief and resilience allowed him to achieve his goals. Sunil’s achievements in the UK are due to the full support of his close-knit family and former brother-in-law, Dharmanand Bhantoo. Sunil Mungur came to England after completing his HSC and having held a few jobs, including Munsupraay Accountancy in Quatre Bornes. Sunil took full advantage of the free education at University of Mauritius and made clever use of his free time by giving tuition in Accountancy and related subjects. In UK, he continued his disciplined life of academia and in 1987 he graduated with the well-earned goal, ACCA, becoming a member of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants.
Gyanchand Mungur with his ACCA
In 1992, despite obtaining his Fellowship, he never stopped there. Sunil worked at Michael King & Co for 10 years and the invaluable experience led him to launch his own accountancy firm ‘Gynch Shaw Maurice & Co’. In the meantime, Sunil succeeded in completing the prestigious Master in Business Administration (MBA) in 1997.
Gyanchand Mungur, wife Premeela & son Aayush
Sunil continued to work relentlessly to build a reputation with a wide range of quality services in accountancy and taxation, including consultancy services. Lately, he had taken up new Apprenticeship which is a new government scheme of on-the-job-training.
Sunil became the chairman of Mauritius Hindu Association in 2004 and has worked selflessly with the various communities. He has been inspirational in organising celebrations of Indo-Mauritian festivals, cultural events and monthly prayers.
Sunil Mungur, Lock Sohodeb & Tony Patti from Sunrise Radio plus guests
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Sunil giving a speech on the occasion of Mauritius 50th Independence Anniversary
The Mauritian community in the UK is grateful to Sunil’s long-standing contribution as a philanthropist. Moreover, he also set up initiatives like hosting Mauritian Achievers’ Award and promoting it on Sunrise Radio and Zee TV. Given his experience and skills, he worked closely with various organisations, including SPEL media. Sunil was also given a Recognition Award in 2002 for his continued work as a philanthropist. With his unstoppable flair for community service he was awarded Karma Yogi Puruskar in 2009. Later he received Mauritian Achievers’ Award in 2013 and Bihari Connect on 2016. It is due to his ambition that Sunil has a biography written by his close friend Dr Lock Sohodeb, ‘Life of a Philanthropist’.
Kishore Teelanah is a Lead Science Lecturer and Industry Placement Coordinator in the UK
* Published in print edition on 26 April 2019