TI KOUTO KOUP GRO ZIROMON

The worshippers of Mammon in unison croak discordantly that the vagaries of the weather have nothing to do with global warming and climate change, a leftish invention to destabilize the world and cultivate anarchy. They want us to ignore the findings of science.

They are organized in very powerful, moneyed lobbies to check, undermine and destroy any attempt for change which will jeopardise their personal interests.
The burning of fossil fuels is responsible for the destruction of the planet and motorcars are closely linked to this calamitous situation. The worshippers of Mammon have made and placed their fortunes in both industries and will protect their wealth even if it is to the detriment of the general weal. Consequently, their agents, stooges and cronies in all spheres – be they private or public – will vehemently support their idiotic obsession in return for favours of all sorts.

There is a belief that it is possible to move away from fossil fuels and reduce dramatically the use of the private-personal motorcar by using high-fibre cane and hemp to produce electricity and redesigning our local administration to ensure safety for pedestrians and cyclists. This will not only reduce CO2 emissions but also lead us to healthier living. Yet there are powerful lobbies and their political allies who will not only stand against change but will embark on campaigns of calumny, fake news and character assassination to kill rational debate. Their interests are linked to the activities of giant international corporations and their local representatives and businesses from importers to distributors. A whole chain of vested interests of different types will try to kill change so indispensable to the survival of mankind.

It is now widely accepted that cannabis oil (CBD oil) has certain therapeutic virtues. It can help people face atrocious pains but a change in the law and in attitudes will take time because we are blinded by prejudices and ignorance on the one hand and will be swept off our feet by anti-CBD malicious propaganda financed by giant pharmaceutical industries.

On a personal note, at the age of 77, I am now suffering from 3 sets of problems: ‘wear and tear’ caused by age; Post-Polio Syndrome; acute pain in my right hand wrist ( as my left arm is completely atrophied, I have to manage with one hand and this is becoming more and more painful and difficult and at times agonising). I have been told that CBD oil could not only help me by alleviating pains on the one hand but also on the other hand, protect my liver and kidney which anti-inflammatory drugs and pain-killers are damaging. My only hope, before it is too late, is that the law is amended.

I would like to end this opinion piece with an extract from an article by Mike Power which appeared in The Guardian of 1 July 2019.

“What is clear is that legal reform on cannabis, while welcome, is not moving anywhere near quickly enough to benefit millions of patients.
Scientists and politicians are, thankfully, catching up with hundreds of years of folk wisdom: it’s not news to anyone who regularly smokes a spliff that cannabis is relaxing, or that it can help you sleep far more soundly than a glass of red wine, or improve your mood. The interplay between THC, CBD, and the hundreds of other active compounds in the cannabis plant could one day be isolated, identified, tested and proven to offer symptomatic help or even a cure for dozens of life-threatening conditions. But decades of pointless prohibition based on specious moral arguments have prevented proper medical research that could have benefited millions.

The CBD market urgently needs proper regulation and more broadly, both the THC and CBD sectors demand the creation of a new medical model that accommodates the complexity of a plant that has been used as a medicine by humans for thousands of years.”

Will narrow-minded Mauritius be prepared to move forward? Alcohol and tobacco are highly dangerous drugs and yet they are legal. CBD oil can help us to enjoy a better and healthy life and it is illegal. Should we not just laugh in order not to cry?
25.07.19

PROSE AND LITERARY PROSE

It took English and French over 3 centuries to evolve a standard prose style after over 3 centuries of poetic and dramatic writing.

General prose and literary prose are very sophisticated genres. Poetry and plays have one foot in the oral world and the other in the literacy world. A poem is written and then read or sung in public. The audience may be non-literate but the message gets across through a combination of factors: words, intonation, context, body language etc. The same applies to plays. A few persons will use the written word (dramatists, actors, directors, stage managers etc.) but the audience needs not be literate for the message uses the oral medium. When it comes to written prose there is no external support. There are black signs on a piece of paper governed by orthographic, syntactic, semantic and punctuation rules. With these the ‘reader’ will have to negotiate the meaning of the text.

The spread of general and literary prose was the result of a rise in the literacy rate in France and England, the development of the printing technology and the rise of an educated middle-class. What is the situation in Mauritius? The printing technology is up to date; there is an educated middle-class representing about 30% of the population who are literate in French and English; the literacy rate is round about 30%. Official figures of the literacy rate (85-90%) are unreliable because only schooling is the measure used. We know that thousands of young people after 7-9 years at school are unable to read and write.

UNESCO has a reliable literacy test. People can be called literate if they can write a short 150 word essay on themselves (Ala ki mo ete! This is what I am! Voilà qui je suis!) in the language of their choice but complying strictly with the rules of orthography, grammar, semantics and punctuation. Can you guess what percentage of population of the Maritime Republic of Mauritius can score above 50% marks out of a hundred in this test? VERY LOW!

THE SOLUTION?
Literacy should start in a person’s mother tongue. Mauritian is the mother tongue of 90% of the population and is also our de-facto national language. Acquisition of mother tongue literacy will pave the way to literacy in English, our official language, which is also a creole language. The two languages have very similar grammatical features. On top of this, the phonemic orthography makes the development of literacy skills easy and fast.

Some people argue that the phonemic orthography deters reading efforts and think that an etymological orthography would facilitate mastery in literacy skills. Is it not another example of copping out to avoid the real issue. Let us take the example of 2 European languages which have developed from vulgar Latin: French and Spanish. French has opted for an etymological orthography while Spanish has chosen the logic of phonemics. Today over 535,000,000 people use Spanish as first and second language (L1 and L2) in the world. Regularly the Royal Spanish Academy updates the orthography to meet the needs of language change. In France a conservative mindset prevails and consequently although the French government and the French Academy invest heavily in the promotion of French and Francophonie only about 280,000,000 use it as L1 and L2. The French orthography is certainly a major obstacle to the proper mastery of French. All efforts at orthography reform have failed so far. There is a belief that there is a deliberate policy by conservatives to make it difficult for the lower classes to join the ‘upper culture club’. Orthography has become a tool to consolidate ‘class-culture apartheid’.

Educators in general favour a phonemic orthography for new written languages for it facilitates the acquisition of literacy as there is a phoneme/grapheme correspondence.

THE PRESS
The well-established languages in the world have greatly benefited from the development of the written press. Journalistic prose has developed the muscles and sinews of standard languages and has thus helped the development of literary prose by providing literature with a literate readership. How many of you know that Dickens’ ‘Great Expectations’ first appeared in a serialized format published by a magazine.

Poetry and plays in Mauritian are well developed but prose and literary prose are only slowly picking up. To grow they will have to rely on support from the written press which then will fully respond to its mission to 1. Inform, 2. Educate and 3. Entertain.

Let us hope that in not too distant a future we will see the written press hosting prose and literary prose in Mauritian.
25.07.19