THE ROAD AHEAD

Konsomé nonnstop!
Lor problem pas enn kout mop;
Amizé ar dop.

Consume without thought!
Let all your problems be naught;
Don’t be overwrought.

One thing is clear. Neoliberalism, an ideology caracterised by total reliance on market forces, deregulation and privatisation, now controls both sides of the house. The main political parties, the MSM, the PTr, the MMM and the PMSD, in that order of importance, share the same political ideology and this explains why these parties can easily join forces (MSM/MMM alliance; PTr/MMM alliance; MSM/PTr alliance; PTr/PMSD alliance; MSM/PMSD alliance). It also explains why prominent MMM members can easily fit into the MSM environment, outlook and policy.

Neoliberalism is the dominant worldwide ideology at present be it in the USA, China, India, Russia or Europe. In our region there are two important powerhouses: China and India. They may have different systems but both are driven by the same mantra: BE RICH. They are rivals in our region and both want to colonise us through the DEBT-TRAP diplomacy. India has an edge over its rival for the “CHOTA BHARAT” slogan seems to charm quite a few minds.

Neoliberals have no concern for the environment or the health of the planet. They believe that such concepts as global warming/burning, climate change/crisis are left wing fabulations to stop the march of history. In the Mauritius archipelago, they are the proponents of high-income economy, tax-free country, unending economic growth, wealth and luxury for all. These slogans titillate the imagination of the masses who start to think that manna will fall from heaven. But that is not the truth. Neoliberalism means that 1% of the population controls 90% of the national wealth and consequently, 99% have to share the remaining 10%; it means increasing wealth for the very rich and extreme poverty for the masses; it means a two-tier system (free and fee-paying) in schools and hospital where moneyed people will get the best service; it means that prisons will be privatised and consequently, rehabilitation cum re-education will be abandoned and recidivism will thrive; it means private police, gated cities on the one hand and rising unemployment and crimes on the other.

WHAT CAN WE DO?

As long as the masses trust their leaders nothing can be done. But the situation will not remain rosy for too long. The destruction of rain forests, the burning of fossil fuels, the wiping out of bio-diversity are life-threatening activities and soon we will have to bear the brunt of our mistakes. Then the political promise will sound hollow and angry reaction will start.

With the rise in sea level, our tourist industry will be in deep trouble. We will have to move from beach tourism and explore possibilities of culture and green tourism. Rice producing countries are already facing difficulties and rice supply will eventually dwindle. We will have to rethink our food culture in terms of production and consumption. AREU’S motto, GROW WHAT YOU EAT AND EAT WHAT YOU GROW, must become national wisdom. The “open sesame” of high-income economy will soon lose its lustre and the population at large will understand that they have been taken for a ride.

The oligarchs and their political allies, having a powerful grip over most media outlets, have some success in getting us to think the way they want. However, this will not last forever if artists in all branches of creation – poetry, plays, short stories, novels, paintings, music and dance, films and photography etc. – continue to entertain and educate us and help us to see the rot being hidden away.

At the level of the Mauritius archipelago, artists must not throw in the towel in the face of attacks on our true identity. Our birthplace is made up of creole islands which have given refuge, food and shelter to thousands of immigrants from Africa, Asia and Europe.

We do not live in Little France or Little India.

13/11/19

DON’T SHOOT THE POST-OFFICER

When you receive a bad news letter (a dear John letter, for example), do you shoot the post-officer who has delivered it? NO! ARE YOU SURE?

This is exactly what most of us are doing at present. Disappointed by the election results, many Mauritians are feverishly looking for scapegoats – our favourite defense mechanism. “PA MWA SA, LI SA!”

Because some 6,000 voters could not, on election day, find their names on the election register, a massive attack was launched against THE ELECTORAL COMMISSION by the public, including journalists. The commissioner and his devoted and efficient staff are held responsible when responsible citizens are duty-bound to ensure that their names feature on the register.

Why have we reached that situation? Everything which had to be done was done by the Electoral Commission. But then what happened? A very strange thing! The Commission used the written word. How dared they? Use the written word in the Polyglot Republic of Perfectly Literate Citizens? How dared they?

The electoral commissioner is a man of efficiency and integrity and the institution he runs commands national and international respect. Why are some irresponsible people attacking him; shooting the post-officer for delivering a letter whose content does not please them?

Would you believe that this furore, this pandemonium was due to the fact that hundreds of thousand men and women in Mauritius do not master basic literacy let alone functional literacy? Is the Electoral Commission to blame for this? No, we must blame governments and ourselves for refusing to address the issue.

Make believe is our national game. No one wants to admit that illiteracy is widespread in our country and it will continue to plague us. Why is that so when the education budget is substantial? Simply because we refuse to admit that literacy should start in the mother tongue of the child and in Mauritius, Mauritian (Mauritian Creole) is the L1 (mother tongue) of 90% of the population. As a result of this over 6,000 people who could not read or could not be bothered to read, were not aware that it was their duty to see to it that their names were in the election register. Several journalists joined the attack on the Electoral Commission. They too believe that Mauritius is a literate country. In fact, they should be the first to know for they write for the general public.

Aren’t we all to blame for this? Newspaper people should be the first to survey the general literacy rate in the country for the written word is their main communication tool. They should ask themselves how many can read and understand what they write.

Literacy acquisition should be concern of one and all. Without functional literacy there can be no global development. Let us hope that the new government will seize the bull by the horn and not keep on postponing the issue. If they take this progressive path, let us also hope that the main papers of the country will support and assist.

Let us face the truth and not cop out.

09/11/19