The Way to Unity

Mauritius Times 60 Years

By Doojendranath Napal

“This is a tiny Island — whether we like it or not, we are each of us dependent on the others who share the island with us for our livelihood, and for our happiness.”

These are words of realism. Communal feelings are rife in our country and every thinking man agrees that it is high time we got ourselves ready to face the disaster towards which we are fast heading. If we are to survive, it is imperative that we bury our communal differences and pull ourselves together in a common effort to solve our common problems. I believe never before so clear a picture of our problems was put before us as on Monday last by Mr Wilson, Financial Secretary, while he was delivering a speech announcing the formal establishment of the Stella Clavisque Club. It was he who uttered the words I quote above. He also said that those Mauritians who are now the members of the Provisional Committee of the club were not long ago students in Europe where they had completely forgotten their petty racial taboos and “shared a common bond with Mauritius, a bond which depended for its existence on one fact — that they are all Mauritians.” These Mauritians were throughout their stay in Europe conscious of one thing that – their common bond would dissolve “and each one of them would return to the enclosure of his own community here.”

One of these Mauritians showed a genuine earnestness to prevent this cleavage, to break the communal barriers and to meet on a footing of social equality. He is Dr Rahman, the psychiatrist of Brown Sequard Hospital. I met him the other day. He spoke to me with hopeful fervour about the future of the Stella Clavisque Club which he qualified as an interracial club whose purpose was to allow intelligent people of all communities to meet together as citizens of a common nation and forge ties of brotherhood. Dr Rahman is the architect of the movement. He told me that when he was studying medicine in Guy’s Hospital and later in Maudsley’s Hospital, he had a group of fellow students from the West Indies who used to speak to him of their inter-racial clubs. “I felt sorry,” he said, “that I could not boast of any such organization in my own country. And it was then that the idea sprang up in me that we should have an inter-racial club in our own small island. “But, doctor,” I put in, “did you ever have any opportunity to see such a club function?” His eyes brightened with memories of the good old days and he told me how when lately he was on his way to the International Conference at Balakaru in the Belgian Congo, he had to stay for some time at Nairobi where he visited such a club. In this club the Europeans and the Africans rubbed shoulders with each other and felt quite at ease in each other’s company.

Dr Rahman soon grouped around him some other young men whom he won over to his ideas. Dr Wiehé, Dr Mansoor, Dr Paratian and Mr Naudeer were a few of these. These often met at Dr Rahman’s place. The Stella Clavisque Club had been started.

On Monday last Dr Rahman’s dream came to be realised when an inaugural cocktail party was given to launch the club. The party was a roaring success. The invitees were all enthusiastic about the idea of a club where the élite of the different communities can meet and discuss problems common to them all as Mauritians. The success of the party was testified by the applauses with which Mr Wilson’s ideas were greeted. Mr Wilson was realistic throughout. He said that he “was aware that the divisions which exist between the communities, and even more so within each community, are deep-seated and tenacious.” The club would not envisage the impossible task of breaking natural and inevitable barriers. What it would aim at would be to prevent these barriers to be “twisted into a justification for artificial and unnecessary obstacles to the free interchange of opinions and ideas.”

He seemed to be inspired when he said, while concluding his speech: “Our ancestors have taught us for thousands of years that we should love our neighbour. And we should not hate those who do not love their neighbours. We should rather pity them.”

He then appealed to the audience to work for the success of the Stella Clavisque Club, for that “little oasis where for once the stresses and taboos of communal divisions can disappear, so that minds and manners can draw benefit from an influx of new thoughts and ideas.”

As was apparent to those who attended Monday’s cocktail party at the Salle des Fêtes, the enthusiastic people who are behind the Stella Clavisque Club are inspired by a great ideal — to break communal barriers in our small island. Such an ideal is indeed laudable. Let us wish Godspeed to the initiators of the organization and hope that the Club prospers.

5th Year No 219
Friday 17th October, 1958

Mauritius Times ePaper Friday 17 February 2023

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