Pierre Dinan: A Man For All Seasons

By Dr Ibrahim Alladin

- Publicité -

I was introduced to Monique Dinan by Philip Ah-Chuen, a close friend of mine. Philip said, you have to meet Monique and Pierre. They are a fascinating couple. Indeed. Through Monique, I got to know Pierre and we spent some great moments together. As a tribute and friendship, I wrote a book on them, entitled A Message of Love. The Story of Pierre and Monique Dinan, published in 2018.


We met several times at their home, a beautiful surrounding, with lush and green vegetation and colourful flowers. Monique loves gardening and her flowers and plants are meticulously arranged. She gave me a cutting of a plant she called “fleur pétard”, which found a place in my garden, a reminder of my friendship with Monique and Pierre. One day, Pierre gave me a tour of his garden and surprised me when he said he was a “rabbit breeder”. Several of these animals were hopping about in the backyard. “I have been doing this for years”, added Pierre.

Pierre Dinan was a well-known economist, and he provided his services to many. As a professional, he was a person of integrity, commitment and vision. Pierre simplified economics for everyone to understand. A graduate of the London School of Economics, his approach was quite unorthodox. He did away with models, theories and applications and stuck to the basics. After last year’s budget, he said: “The public debt is mounting, we have to balance the budget, and this could be done by undertaking a series of measures such as reducing public expenditure.” He never said openly that he was a socialist, but he had the inclinations and was in favour of a viable welfare state.

He used to remind me that economics is not about numbers, but about people and equity. The cake has to be shared equally, and not eaten by a few. Pierre took a swing at politics and in fact, became a politician in his own right and fought an election. Pierre was not disillusioned when he lost, but made a point, and together with Monique, he showed that life is an ongoing invention, full of challenges, and he remained the great optimist until his last breath. A deeply spiritual person, he believed in the goodness of the citizen.

I remember we were having dinner at his place. Monique prepared the meal and we sat at the table. As Pierre served me, he added: “This is a simple meal, but one that you will remember”. The conversation was great and we talked about almost everything. I was touched by his simplicity, humility and open-mindedness. To me these are the attributes of greatness. With Monique, always by the side and next to him, they navigated a long-term relationship, based on love, compassion and sharing. Married for decades, they travelled the world. Their children and grandchildren added to their rich and colourful life. Pierre lived and enjoyed life. One of his highlights was the meeting with the Pope at the Vatican.

Controversial at times

Pierre Dinan spoke what he believed in and was never scared to speak up, nor spared a word to his critics. Controversial at times, he made his point intelligently and respectfully. He told me on several occasions, “If you don’t agree with me, that’s fine”. If people are going without food, how do you expect me to stay quiet, he would add. In a country, that has plenty, it is sinful for children to go to school without a proper meal. Pierre and Monique went all over the country and experienced the inequalities, injustices and lack of opportunities for many. They became advocates for the poor, the vulnerable and the young at risk. The Mouvement d’Aide à la Maternité (MAM), which they founded is just one example.

Here is a classic Pierre Dinan speaking: “There is so much to do, and few people to do it. We have to give back to the community, and not just take and take, without giving. If we all make a contribution, young girls will not be in the streets but in schools. I am very critical of what I see around me”.

Pierre Dinan was a thinker and an intellect. He wrote extensively and even authored a couple of books. His interviews have been heard many times and his views were sought after by the media. Whether it was a matter of economics or social issues, Pierre was always available to give his analysis. The national budget was a big preoccupation of his. He commented and deciphered every budget for decades. He often reminded his audience that economics and social policy are two different things. One can come up with all sorts of promises and end up in a worse situation.

He had a passion for politics.  He enjoyed talking about it and was candid, when he spoke about the political situation. He reminded me on several occasions how much the country has changed in half a century, but quickly added: “We have a long way to go. We have some brilliant people and a country with great potential. Development cannot be exclusive, we have to practice inclusiveness. There are too many ambitious projects. With limited resources, we cannot be a begging bowl. We have to utilize what we have. I am very concerned for the future generation. We are leaving a dilapidated world behind. Who is speaking about preserving what we have? Look at our schools. It is unreal. I want to see solid policies with concrete plans, not political games.  As an economist, I am very aware of the state of the world and the impact it has on our society. We should take responsive measures.  When I hear of those promises, I pose many questions. Just like running a family, we need to have resources and spend accordingly. We cannot go on adventures.”  He noted that we need responsible government and good governance.

I once asked him, “Pierre, if you become the Prime Minister, one day, where would you start?”. He gazed at me for a few seconds, looking serious and then he burst into laughter. He replied: “You asked me the wrong question. You should have asked me if I have any aspiration to become PM. My straight answer is NO. I am not that ambitious, but I have ambitions, like everybody else. My ambition is to see the betterment of our society, and to remove the social and economic inequalities. As PM, they won’t let me do it, so why bother?  My priorities are somewhat different. I want to see changes that improve people’s lives. As an ordinary citizen I have more power. So, Monique and I, have our own vision.”

Whatever Pierre did in his life, he was thorough. Whether he was breeding rabbits or planting a tree, or addressing conferences, he always had a plan. He was reflexive, calculative and responsive. He was a person who could adapt to any situation, and he was at ease with whoever he spoke to. With a smile he spoke with conviction and was thought provoking. He was well-read and his thoughts were profound and analytical. Pierre Dinan was a man for all seasons. This “little guy” with a smile, had depth and style.

Outside his home, he pointed me to two coconut trees, that stood in the ravine, looking majestic, which Pierre and Monique called “les cocotiers”. They are symbolic and standing side by side since they got married. These trees have resisted cyclones, gusty winds and drought. They are still standing upright. Pierre and Monique are the “cocotiers”. They were a unique couple.

When I first met them, I was fascinated by their path. As writer, I could not resist, telling their story, aptly called, A Message of Love. It started with a few conversations, but quickly took the form of a novel. They enjoyed telling their stories, and I listened to them attentively in case I miss any spicy details, and there were plenty of those. There is an interesting point I would like to bring out. Pierre had the chance to immigrate to Australia and had job offers which were hard to decline. He could have had a better life. He looked at me and said: “I decided not to leave Mauritius and stay here to serve the country. I turned down the offers and spent my life in Mauritius.” Pierre deeply loved his country, a true patriot.

I would say that his departure has left a huge gap in our society. He was a voice and provided a voice to the voiceless. I consider him as one of our great patriots. His accomplishments are numerous and too many to tabulate here. Pierre was not a person searching for accolades, his heart was with the ordinary folks. As a professional and an international consultant, Pierre Dinan was always up to the task. We will miss his analysis, his smile, and above all his humanity. May God grant him eternal peace.



- Publicité -

l'édition du jour

- Publicité -