1ST OF FEBRUARY 2015 : ‘Esclavification’

We are told that ‘slaves’ were brought from various parts of Africa, Madagascar and India. But more often than not, it was ‘men’ and ‘women’ who were shipped to Mauritius. These human beings would then endure, over a period of time, a process which we could call ‘esclavification’. Licensed by the Code Noir, a deliberate procedure would turn human beings into slaves. Bodies, brains, emotional make ups, family units, memories of a past, of a home, language and culture, all humanity would be regimentally, violently broken beyond repair and erased. At the same time, the installation of fear will replace all these losses, a fear still palpable in its silent manifestations.
We tiptoe around the subject of our past when, in fact, without confronting our past, we cannot know who we are now, let alone imagine the direction in which we want to navigate our future. SSR once said that it was best to avoid the subject of colonial history, the darkness of which would be traumatizing to youngsters. But it is rather in this gap, in this not knowing, in this not confronting ourselves that lies the trauma. It is because we do not feel that we can address our history and the painful lopsided remnants of today that we overreact at the slightest criticism. The mildest critical or objective outlook is rendered offensive because we have never learnt to articulate in dispassionate fashion our past and present. One such example is that many of us applaud Percy Mistry in his refreshing assessment of colourful Mauritian parliamentary politics, ongoing plantation politics, a complacent slovenly economy, the double-edged sword story to our culture and society. We applaud because we are ourselves bound by silence in the face of truths. We are not to be blamed entirely. Our education has played its role in silencing history and in silencing our powers of critical reflection and articulation, rendering our reactions tribal and, therefore in the long term, ineffective.
180 years after the Abolition of slavery in Mauritius and at the dawn of the Decade decreed by the UN as the Decade of the people of African descent (2015-2024) with the theme: ‘People of African Descent: recognition, justice and development’, the colossal volumes of the Truth and Justice Commission remain in a drawer. And yet 3 years of research involving the best of our local and some international historians not only bring together the scattered documentation on slavery and indentured labour, but, more importantly, explain the relevance of that history to the current structures. From there the Report makes a series of bold recommendations. What the Humanities have demonstrated through the works of historians and anthropologists on the enduring consequences of slavery have fallen on deaf ears.
Scientists, neuroscientists in particular, are proving that poverty breaks the brain. From here we can extrapolate on the devastating consequences of ‘esclavification’, the reproduction of fear and the reproduction of poverty. It strikes me increasingly that an intuition that Humanities researchers have about something deeply human even when backed up by evidence might not convince the cynics, but it will later be proven by science when the latter catches up. Shedding light onto the process of ‘esclavification’ will help understand the extent to which and the manner in which this enslaved population needed to be helped along. Out of this knowledge we can begin a reflection on what agency would mean for a previously enslaved population. (Agency can be described as the capacity of an individual to act in the world and influence it intentionally to achieve desired outcomes, as opposed to being passively acted upon which would be victimhood. Note that I do not use the word ‘empowerment’ lest the concept be unfortunately associated with the NEF).
Those of us who have benefited from colonial and postcolonial transactions have a duty of care to those who did not and do not. This duty of care does not mean hand downs, but concrete holistic long lasting solutions that touch the cause of exclusion, going back to the darkest pages of our history. This kind of help came from neither the French nor the British nor the Church nor the rising Indian classes. If we choose to be more nuanced and say that the help that came was inadequate precisely because there was no real understanding of what was needed, even then, this posture is being demystified with the scientific backing of the commendable work already published by the Truth and Justice Commission.
At the current crossroads in history, that the last elections partly symbolized, I end with a question. Which Government will have the courage to use, at least some of, the findings and recommendations of the Truth and Justice reports as basis for a progressive political, social, economic, cultural, educational nation-building project? Clearly not the previous one which was contented to be seen to commission this work as it did others, nor the current one too busy building its family legend to mend its own growing intestinal fractures.
And yet the world has been ignited for the past few years by previously silenced voices claiming their rights, by ordinary citizens imposing accountability and responsibility on self-serving and self-glorifying government. There are poignant lessons from our own history that need to be voiced out. The first act of slave agency on the 18th of June 1695 saw two women and two men, Anna of Bengal, Esperance, Aaron of Amboina and Paul from Batavia, set fire to the Dutch Fort Ferederick Hendryck. It was a complex and deliberate coup, planned for months which would shake the colonial establishment to the core installing fear in its midst. Our children could do with this page of history when male and female heroes from diverse continents, cultures and life experiences, speaking different ‘langues de départ’ but communicating in a common language (which they were creating together and would bequeath us with) stood together as one to fight for the only thing ever worth fighting for. Freedom.


Commentaires

What a load of nonsense! Frankly, some people have nothing else to do but try at all cost to get some attention in the media.

Lorsque vous reprenez la pensée, la réflexion et même un terme comme 'esclavification'
inventé par ce cerveau hors du commun qu'est celui de Claude Sooprayen, ayez la courtoisie et surtout la décence de citer ce dernier en tant que source, car rien n'est de vous dans cet article, si ce n'est une compréhension approximative de la pensee de Claude, ainsi qu'une piètre traduction du français à l'anglais.

Esclavification - procédé par lequel le cerveau de l'homme 'libre' est systématiquement cassé pour le réduire à l'état de bête de somme, avec rien que la Peur au ventre comme unique force motrice, les cruautés qui y sont associées ainsi que le résultât et toutes les séquelles qui en découlent - expression inventée par Claude Sooprayen.