Brinda Runghsawmee 

They came, they plundered and they left. They killed our broad-billed parrot, which was proud and did not eat what it was given when taken captive,  sounds familiar? People taken into captivity who preferred death rather than slavery ? Our noisy red rail which was so trustworthy and perhaps thought that this strange long-legged creature was a friend. Even when the hunters came with batons to kill it for food, it did not defend itself. It let itself be killed. Our docile warty-faced blue pigeon was easy prey for human predators. It could be knocked down with a stick and easily shot.

They come, they plunder and they humiliate us.

They seem so nice at first. They serve you despite being in charge. They have such a pleasant countenance and voice. You are impressed.Then gradually reality sets in. They throw off their masks. They have already tied the employees with the whip of mental submission. They pay you a good salary. The door is wide open for anyone who dares to protest. “Just go, we can replace you with somebody from abroad because abroad means best, local means the worst.”

They come, they care and they leave.

They are real ambassadors of their country. They have understood something: we are all humans, our blood is red and we breathe the same air. I will give my life for them. They are as dear as kin, sometimes more…

They come, they care and they stay.

They are still ambassadors of their country. They learn the ways and culture of the inhabitants of the country they have adopted as their own. We should not call them foreigners but they are our own.

There is something great about Mauritians: we are hospitable and want to serve foreigners. We consider them our own. We have a ready smile to welcome them. We were born here. This is our land. My question is: how much should a Mauritian employee endure just because he or she has a family to feed when working for foreigners? Just like the red rail, even when the boss comes with a baton to kill you, you still believe he/she is here to befriend you. They kill you without remorse. They can replace you because you are an islander and therefore stupid. “Foreigner, we are not stupid. We love people. In the lap of nature, an islander loves, does not pretend to love; an islander respects, does not pretend to respect.”

We would encourage the authorities to save employees from some of those foreign bosses who enjoy life on our beautiful island and are paid a fat salary that could feed so many families here. It’s the employees who toil and those bosses are here to order us about.I have some friends who recently completed a Celta (Certificate of English language to Adults) course at the British Council in Rose Hill. It was a wonderful experience for them. The Cambridge tutors were helpful and caring. They were humans. At no point did they show superiority because they were experts in their field. On the contrary, they were humble and simple.

I have some other friends who have had bad experiences with foreign experts who have humiliated them and showed superiority while giving advice and never accepting their suggestions. This is a kind of mental colonisation. It is as bad as, even worse than the colonisation that history speaks about. My friends are like our broad-billed parrots. They fight back. They want justice. However, most of them are forced to leave their jobs. Imagine you are in your own country, you have a boss who is a foreigner and he/she dares to speak to you in an arrogant way, then he/she tells you they don’t need you. “You can leave. You are not that competent.”

“How can a foreigner who has been given permission to work on our island, order Mauritian employees to leave their jobs? They should be the ones to leave and go. They are not welcome here.”

We would encourage the authorities to pro- mote the English language, which is the lingua franca, i.e. the common language that helps speakers of other languages to communicate with each other. How to promote it ? With the help of our primary and secondary teachers. They are doing what they can to promote English. However, to teach a language, shouldn’t there be a fun element somewhere? Shouldn’t it be taught in more realistic contexts? How about pronunciation? Do our children speak English correctly? I have heard that Thai students are benefitting a lot from the way English is taught in Thailand and Thai teachers are enjoying it.

There is something that still bothers me: We are in the 3rd millennium. I think it’s time for us to be independent in our thinking, confident in our abilities and talents. Each individual is born unique. He/she has the full potential to be somebody, not to change the world, but to better the lives of people around him/her. Talking about changing the world, why should others not come to our island and learn from us ? Why should we always think that North America and Western Europe are the best? As a people, we are all talented. We should be proud and marvel at what we can make and achieve. Whatever we have, develop it to its full potential. Abroad is no better. If we go abroad to meet other people, enjoy their culture and broaden our knowledge and marvel at their capabilities, we will learn that all human beings are equal under the sun.

It’s true we have our shortcomings like littering everywhere except our own backyards! If we change our mindset and stop littering roads, parks, beaches, canals, rivers and our sea, our island will be beautiful. It will be like our blue pigeon, which has some rainbow colours. Though we are a warty- faced people, we still have rainbow hearts, whereas some foreigners who come here with rainbow faces have warty hearts and want to humiliate a free people.

We wish ‘lepep mauricien’ Happy New Year 2018.

Our strengths are our generosity and simplicity. Let money not taint us. Some ins- piring words from Sware Poezi 2017:

“Langaz kreol ini nou Nou enn pep tou kouler Nou touzour ena sourir Nou respir mem ler.”