Mohamad Vayid: The Demise of a Powerful Voice

The passing away of Mohamad Vayid on Sunday last in Cape Town, South Africa, came as a shock. He was so dynamic and present in the public till now that it was unthinkable he was so near to this final act of leaving his body. With his charming personality and great courtesy, he must have been a powerful pillar to his bereaved family. To them, we extend our deep condolences.

What was remarkable about MV (by which he sometimes signed his opinion articles in this newspaper and elsewhere) was the depth with which he pronounced his views on matters of national and international concern. There were not many who could see matters from the angle from which he saw them and this is one reason, apart from a long enduring friendship, for which he was frequently hosted in the columns of Mauritius Times.

He was not only an erudite in his own right, having received his education in the best of British and European universities. For him, neither the public sector nor the private sector held many secrets as he had been involved in both of them at the highest levels throughout his rich career. From having been an educator (he was teaching for some time at the Royal College, Curepipe) to becoming General Manager of a multi-national company, he had gathered invaluable experience about matters of public policy and sound decision-making. He generously shared this experience with all, no matter if it went against the grain of ordinary thinking. At times it hurt susceptibilities but, with all the courtesy and good manners he deployed in his dealings with others, he would not refrain from giving out his own appreciation of situations, not without a pat on the back for work well done.

For having rubbed shoulders with the leading political leaders of the previous generation, his range of understanding of issues came from such a depth of perception that this would make him the subject of admiration or the envy of certain others if not of their outright hostility. Only last year, he had taken to participating in a regular commentary on current events on Sundays, along with Yvan Martial and Touria Prayag, on one of the radios of the MBC. It was one of the best programmes aired on both public and private radios, given out with calm composure and objectivity in which the level of culture of the protagonists got projected. Not only was his analyses sharp, to-the-point and disconcerting to people who had generally assumed it to be otherwise – he also took care to clothe them in perspective so as to give a just appreciation of what was going on and what needed to be done in consequence. This will be sorely missed.

It will take some time before the void left behind by MV’s unexpected demise at 78 will be filled. We can take comfort that we might still bring up another MV in our midst who, while sympathising with some sectional concerns when he felt there was a point, would refuse to get trapped into the narrow precincts of sectionalism. In that case, we would not have lost his precious independent and all-assuming voice in the wilderness.

* * *

Mohamad Vayid

“The Passing away of a model citizen and a much loved teacher”: An Appreciation

The unexpected tragic news, received on Monday 8th May, of the passing away of Mr Mohamad Vayid in Cape Town, far from his native soil, will deeply sadden many Old Boys who attended the Royal College Curepipe in the sixties. Not only have we lost one of our most original thinkers and best commentators on Mauritian life and politics, but also a brilliant intellectual who was born to make others think and wish to learn more.

Some of us who were privileged to be taught English and History by Mr Vayid in the 1960s at RCC, were constantly impressed by his erudition, meek and courteous manner and strong philosophical views. Always impeccably dressed, a gentleman with a brilliant mind, he stimulated his students by alluding to both national and international affairs, thereby sharpening their critical faculty. For this we should be eternally grateful, and remember the good times when a Plato-like figure would make us reflect on a rapidly changing world, with the Mauritian nation heading towards Independence and striving for its own identity.

His writings in the local press were of the highest order both for their content and their style; brilliantly penned, they spared nothing and no one. His speeches at fora and conferences were up with the very best – always stimulating and thought-provoking. Little wonder that politicians and the general public took notice whenever he chose to intervene.

Unfortunately, Mauritius is gradually losing her leading lights (of the older generation) as the years roll on: Robert d’Unienville, Daniel Koenig, Georgie Espitalier Noel, Sir Dayendranath Burrenchobay, Sir Marc David, Sir Maurice Rault and Professor Jagadish Manrakhan, among many others.

“Some men are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them.” (Shakespeare, Twelfth Night). Mohamad Vayid was a shining example of all three, and RCC was fortunate indeed to benefit from his impressive, albeit short, teaching career.

May his soul rest in peace!

Marc Serge Rivière

on behalf of RAFAL

* * *

Mohamad Vayid: A tribute to a true patriot

We were deeply grieved at the sudden and unexpected demise of our President and one of the founder-members of the English Speaking Union (ESU) Mohamad Vayid (GOSK).

A man of rare intellect with a towering personality, a visionary and an incisive social and political observer and columnist, he commanded the respect of both his friends and detractors. He was most admired and respected for his analytical mind, his outspokenness, frankness and fearlessness. His throaty voice still echoes in our ears especially on the air on Sunday or at the British Council, the venue of our executive meetings.

I can still recall the day when we were sitting in the same panel on the forum organized by Selex on Rabindranath Tagore at Municipal Hall of Quatre Bornes. And his most befitting obituary of Marc David in the papers deeply moved the readers by its sincerity and affection. A person of such a vast culture and of high integrity and probity, he was imbued with the cultures of both East and West. It was an immense pleasure to listen to him and we could spend endless hours delving in a wide range of subjects. He possessed a sense of humour which disarmed us. His severe look concealed a golden heart… a humanist. He made it a duty to attend with his wife the annual dinner of ODI at Gold Crest on a cold wintry evening last year in spite of his old age.

We, at the ESU, will miss him very much especially as he had been looking forward with much enthusiasm to celebrating the ESU’s 20th anniversary with eclat. The ESU has the misfortune of losing another great man after Professor Jagdish Manrakhan (passed away earlier this year). We shall always cherish sweet memories of him as President of our association. He really took at heart the promotion and flowering of English language in Mauritius and Rodrigues. He will undoubtedly occupy a prominent place in the pantheon of great opinion leaders of our country.

The ESU conveys its heartfelt condolences to his wife and family

Philip Li Ching Hum

Executive Member of ESU

* * *

A Personal Tribute

Some people come into our lives and quickly go.  Others stay for a while leaving footprints on our hearts, and we are forever changed.

Mr Mohamad A. Vayid, GOSK, CMG is among those persons, who influence your way of life. I had the privilege to be his driver during his chairmanship. I was very much impressed by his humility, how he treated everybody with the same respect and his vast knowledge.

You will be deeply missed and be remembered with respect.


Baboo Vikash Seeboo

* * *

Mohamed Vayid – True Mauritian

Mohamed Vayid had a brilliant career in the private sector. He developed his interests so widely and applied the knowledge so gained with so much care and attention that his ability to attend to almost all important issues will be sadly missed. His interviews in various newspapers and contribution in both the private and public sectors are remarkable and should be emulated by more. He worked at the highest level and it may be said that a certain sense of decent self- interest, within bounds, always guided his action.

I still recall some of the articles where he crossed swords with certain persons recognized as the most powerful in their fields, in a dignified and respectable style. He was rarely on the defensive and he always put his courage to test. His articles were not always perhaps appreciated due to his outspokenness and frankness to state facts bluntly and his disapproval of waste and amateurism. He was fair-minded, gentle and friendly. Some of the themes he took up as a cause, such as excessive charges by banks and, recently, his protest against attempts to reduce the authority and power of the Mauritius Employers Federation, were guided solely by his belief in a bigger cause.

He shared his experience and skills with some SMEs and when asked the fees that should be paid, he left it to me to decide. This is very rare these days and more people should emulate the kind of patriotic behaviour and attitude he displayed in such dealings.

It is unfair to summarize a long career here but he was instrumental to draw attention to the imperative need to address key issues like Research and Development as an important aspect of our future development. But this is only one among so many other issues which he drew attention to for the better upkeep of our national interests. His sharp analysis and contributions will be missed.

Vasan Appanah

* * *

Mohamad A. Vayid, G.O.S.K., C.M.G., F.C.M.I. Former Chairperson Of

The National Economic And Social Council June 2006 – February 2011

In his own words

“If you look at a new born baby its hands are always closed as if it holds something secret there. When later, having become an adult, it dies, its hands are open. As if whatever it brought along with it into this world, it has left behind, as a gift or a curse. Every parent hopes that the mark left in the world by their child will be a gift. That is what I wish you all”.

Mr Mohamad Vayid was elected as the Chairperson of the NESC in June 2006 and retired in February 2011. As the former Chairperson of the NESC, he contributed significantly with great dedication and selflessness to the work of the Council. He played a major role in the expansion of the institution and his outstanding contribution will always remain on record.

Mr Mohamad Vayid was a remarkable intellectual and, both in his professional world and in his private life, he influenced the lives of many people.

NESC offers its sincere sympathies to the family.

08 May 2013


* Published in print edition on 10 May 2013

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