Idrice Ameer Goumany

Today, it’s exactly 128 years since Dr Idrice Ameer Goumany died on 29 July 1889 at the age of 30 years at the Quarantine of Pointe aux Cannoniers, which has now become Club Med. His tomb is found in the compound of this tourist resort. Dr Idrice Goumany is an inspiring model of patriotism, professionalism, discipline, hard work and sacrifice – values that must be inculcated in our present and future generations. He grew up in a modest family at the eastern suburb of Port Louis, Plaine -erte, which was then known as Camp des Lascars. His grandfather who originated from Cochin, South India, came to work as lascar (boatman) at the harbour of Port Louis during the French colonial rule. The saga of the Goumany family serves as an interesting case-study of upward social mobility of migrants who strived to adapt to the social setting of the island, struggled economically to climb the social ladder and persevered in the pursuit of modern education. It was indeed a big leap forward for an Indo-Mauritian to pursue professional education in Europe during the 1880s. Dr Idrice Goumany was enrolled at the University of Edinburgh which was reputed for having one of the best medical schools in the world.
On his return to Mauritius after successful completion of his studies, Dr Idrice Goumany could have opted for a comfortable life. But he chose to devote himself in curing the patients affected by the deadly epidemic disease of small pox. In the mid-1880s, the health situation in Mauritius was aggravated by arrival of ships carrying Indian indentured labourers who were infected by small pox. These newly arrived immigrants were sent to the Quarantine of Pointe aux Cannoniers for treatment. At that time no doctor was willing to work at this quarantine for fear of being infected. Dr Idrice Goumany responded favourably to the call of colonial government to take charge of the quarantine. With months of dedicated service, the health of the patients had improved considerably. Unfortunately, Dr Idrice Goumany caught the deadly disease and died at the quarantine. The sudden death of Dr Idrice Goumany aroused national sympathy and got special tribute by the colonial government. But shortly afterwards, he went in oblivion, except for few occasional attempts to revive him in our memories. The tragedy was more dramatic for his family which lost everything it possessed and suddenly declined the social ladder. The parents of Dr Idrice Goumany had contracted huge loan to finance his studies abroad. His sudden death ruined his family financially. Their house and properties, which were under mortgage, were auctioned at the bankruptcy court.
As from 2nd November 2015, Government started to include a wreath-laying ceremony in the context of the Aapravasi Day. At last, the national recognition to this historic figure was restored. But still, the present generation is not fully informed about the life and struggle of Dr Idrice Goumany .
A book on Dr Idrice Goumany, under my signature, is under preparation. Any person having documents, photos or whatever reliable memories of oral traditions related to Dr Idrice Goumany or his ancestors, is invited to share these information in the book for the benefit of the posterity.