A brilliant article by Mahen Napal appeared in l’Express yesterday, challenging the official story of how Mauritius became independent. In fact it is too generous to SSR, the Betrayer of the Nation. The Chagos Islands weren’t the price paid for independence back in 1968. At the same time, islands were taken from the Seychelles and later returned to them when they gained independence in 1976. If either nation had raised the issue in the UN then the international community (especially Russia) would not have permitted it.
To buy their silence the Seychelles received an international airport and Mauritius got £3 million. Given that SSR was initially asking for £140 million over 20 years, he sold the Chagos islands and sold out the Chagossian people for peanuts didn’t he? How can that be explained unless the UK offered him a personal “incentive”, remember that was already knighted by then? Yes the UK did pretend that they would snatch away SSR’s legacy of becoming “father of the nation” but only to make him accept the safeguards for the minority communities, i.e. the Best Loser System. Read all about it in the British records. SSR wasn’t the first deceitful politician to re-write history and unfortunately, he won’t be the last…
Independence came like a ripe mango
This year, we celebrate the 44th anniversary of our Independence which we got on 12th March 1968. No one fought for it as such, as most of the African countries and India did in order to dismantle the British Empire.
Our Independence can be compared to a ripe mango. If not plucked, it was going to fall on its own. Independence was going to come one day or another. It would have come most probably without the excision of Chagos because the Britishers had had enough of us. What were they getting out of Mauritius? Nothing…
All the elections prior to Independence were crucial ones because there was a goal to attain. And for that, the country was divided into 2 blocks : the pro-independent and the anti-independent. To be more precise the countryside people and the town people. The former were for Independence and the latter were against… Even today, this trend exists. The rural area voters and the urban area voters are not on the same wavelength. That’s why our country can never have a one party government, but coalitions or alliances. We have the Universal Franchise voters on one hand and the literate ones on the other. Late Jules Koenig rightly put it: ‘‘Le suffrage universel,c’est donner un rasoir à un singe.’’ The situation where our country is today may be due to the fact that the gap between the haves and the have-nots goes on increasing.
The 1967 elections saw the emergence of two categories of people. One was for Independence and the other for Association with Great Britain. It was a tough fi ght between the rural and the urban areas. With a very slight majority, the people voted for Independence. Had it been a one-to-one fight, the Association with Great Britain block would have won with a comfortable majority and the destiny of Mauritius would have been quite different from what it is today – for better or for worse. The results clearly showed that the country was divided into two blocks, the majority and the minority. Even the majority of the supporters of CAM voted against Independence. If not, how come that the leader of the CAM, who had done so much for his community, lost the elections? Other CAM candidates were elected with the help of Hindu Voters in no.15, no. 13, and no. 10.
The credit of Independence cannot go to any one person in particular as people are supposed to think. On the other hand, the Britishers had a good bargaining power in their hands, i.e. Chagos and its excision from the Mauritian territory.That game was played Mauritius became independent and we know the Chagossian story.
Unfortunately, Ramgoolam agreed to sacrifice Chagos just to quench his thirst of becoming the first Prime Minister of Independent Mauritius. He wanted Independence at all cost, so the victims are none other than the Chagossians. Chagos is gone for ever, and its population will always suffer because they cannot adapt to Mauritian life. Getting back the Chagos will always remain a dream. Can Mauritius fight with Great Britain or USA on that issue? Every year, our representatives deliver kilometric speeches at the United Nations just to say nothing. Here the concerned people jubilate on the speech which is telecast on our National T.V. Was Ramgoolam a freedom fighter or was he given Independence on a golden tray? Can he be compared to a
Julius Nyrere, Nkrumah, Gandhi, Nehru, etc? Or was he just a sheer opportunist?
On every independence day, during celebrations for the last 44 years, our national radio broadcast patriotic Indian songs to show that our country got its independence after years of struggle, whereas it was not so.
How many times has Ramgoolam been jailed as a freedom fighter? On the contrary, he has been knighted by the British Government. Such knighthoods were refused by genuine freedom fighters like Nehru,Gandhi, and Subash Chandra Bose.