There is no doubt that the Island Games have generated a lot of enthusiasm before and specially during. Athletes, organisers, funders, artists and the general public must be congratulated. We have lived a great moment of jubilation and over and over again expressions of joy were mingled with love of the land. Words linked with patriotism, such as Mauritianism, were lavishly used. The games are now over. We are all going back to our routine and chores, our struggles and frustrations and our hopes and fears. Have the games left behind strong building blocks on which new layers may be added or just the ashes of an already dead flame?
We have won dozens of medals and are all chanting the victory of Mauritius without any thoughts of those young women and men, most of whom probably come from underprivileged backgrounds, who trod the hard road to success. What our dirge would be like had we lost? It’s not hard to imagine: “Akoz bannla sa!” We are very good at, on the one hand, appropriating the success of others and, on the other hand, at denying any responsibility when things go wrong. It seems that scapegoatism is a Mauritian core value (“Pa mwa sa, li sa”).
What is patriotism if not some form of love? Do we love only when there is success and achievement and hate and curse in moments of hardship and adversity? That is not love. That is opportunism, mere self-seeking gains from the efforts of others.
There are two types of patriotism: negative and positive. Negative patriotism is when the love of one’s country powers the lust to conquer and loot other countries; it is positive when it powers love and care for one’s country and its people, flora and fauna. The Maritime Republic of Mauritius is made up of several creole islands peopled by immigrants from Europe, Africa and Asia and this cross-cultural mix has to be fostered to build a rainbow nation at all levels, be it economic, political, social or cultural.
At economic level we must develop new paradigms in terms of profitability, sustainability, workers’ welfare, environment control etc. At political level it is imperative that major reforms are implemented to strengthen and improve democracy in terms of gender parity, proportional representation and most importantly to move away from the 3-member constituency to a system of smaller one-member constituencies. These changes will make the best loser system redundant and will help us get rid of ethnic politics. In education, it is urgent that we get rid of the present language policy whereby children are forced to learn the basics of literacy in 3 foreign languages at one and the same time while their mother tongue is ignored. When will we realise the great waste of resources and potential that such a stupid language policy is generating?
Literacy should start in the mother tongue of the child and we should use intelligently the fact that our national language and our official language are creole languages. Moreover, a new pedagogy for French will definitely pave the way to a genuine and vibrant trilingualism.
We must also bear in mind that in a not too distant future, we will have to face serious climate problems, rise in sea level, food insecurity and to face these we will need national solidarity kneaded in the spirit of love and care. “Sakenn so sakenn” will mean national catastrophe and a lot of suffering.
Instead of wallowing in short-lived explosions of joy, let us explore and build strong core values based on solidarity and sharing and replace the facile waving of flags by this song sung in unison:
Bondie beni twa Mama,
Nou Mama, nou Later Sakre.
To bote li dou,
To parfen li dou,
To tini nou ansam
Kouma enn pep,
Enn sel nasion
Dan lape, lazistis, liberte.
Bondie beni twa
Toultan, toultan, toultan.