Trwa baton mouroum,
Mem longer ek mem groser
Pe rod siz lor tronn.
Made of the same slick sickness
Compete for the throne.
With global warming and climate crisis knocking at the door, we, in the Maritime Republic of Mauritius must get ready to face mankind’s greatest challenge since the beginning of human life on Earth. There must be rapid and radical transformation in all spheres of life.
We must rethink our economy and move away from selfishness and greed to solidarity and sharing. Our land, a sacred gift of God, cannot be used as a banal commodity to be sold to the highest bidder for money which in most cases is stacked in foreign banks, abroad. We must use our land judiciously to grow energy and food; to provide people with shelter and leisure; and to protect life and the environment. We must move away from beach tourism to culture and green tourism to strengthen the human bond.
Land and country planning must be rethought. Too much time and energy are wasted travelling to go to work or school. The island of Mauritius could be divided into about 20 autonomous municipalities each having its decentralised administrative, residential, agricultural, industrial and cultural cum leisure sectors with a central government acting more like a coordinator and not like BIG BULLY BROTHER. To achieve greater efficiency, production, distribution and consumption should develop along cooperative lines. These will lead to greater economic, social and cultural democracy.
For national and international communication efficiency, all Mauritians must become IT literate and that means that we must first achieve UNIVERSAL FUNCTIONAL LITERACY in the two Creole Languages of the republic, namely, Mauritian and English. On the ground, experiments have shown that BILINGUAL universal functional literacy can be easily achieved if the right language policy is adopted. But the traditional elite in power prefers to stick to a programme which for all intents and purposes has totally failed. Why? Is it because it’s a good way to remain in power? Traditional leaders have always been against enlightenment.
When will the people learn that: “Pa kapav manz banann dan dé bout/ you can’t have your cake and eat it/ vous ne pouvez pas avoir le beurre et l’argent du beurre.”
What do we need to succeed? First and foremost, a new kind of leadership. The traditional elite is responsible for the mess we are in.
The economic traditional leaders chose to build links with Apartheid South Africa instead of leading the people to national sovereignty; the political traditional leaders failed to unite the people on the long and hard road to independence and national identity and, consequently consolidated communalism; the religious traditional leaders overemphasized and are still overemphasizing rituals and ignorance of the true nature of faith has further divided the population. We are experts at building walls and total failures at building bridges.
Traditional leadership is based on the belief that the world is divided into a handful of leaders on the one hand and masses of followers on the other. The leaders think they have special rights; they are above the lot and are to be obeyed even when they have failed several times and have put the future in jeopardy.
Now we have to face two sets of complementary problems at the same time: ecological catastrophe and nation-building. Will a new imaginative and progressive leadership emerge to lead us into a better world, against life-threatening issues? Time will tell.
But already, we can imagine the essence of these new leaders. Antonio Gramsci’s reflections can help us. His concept of ‘organic intellectuals’ make sense. These are leaders who are part of the people they lead; they teach the people while they learn from them; they are in spiritual, intellectual and emotional communion with the people they lead. The Italian Marxist, Antonio Gramsci, was writing about revolutionary socialist leaders but his thinking is also relevant to the issues confronting us. In the different spheres of life (economic, political, social and cultural), we need these organic intellectuals to make a nation of the people of Mauritius; they will teach us what we really are and where we should go and at the same time learn from us, for they know that learning is a life process. Humility and resilience are their hallmarks as opposed to the arrogance and stupidity of the traditional elite.