Dev Virahsawmy

Dear Prime Minister,

For over 50 years, I have worked both as a linguist and a creative writer in favour of the development of a national culture and identity. Besides my scientific/linguistic writings, I am the author of more than 2,000 poems, 40 plays, 20 short stories, 5 novellas and a novel all in Mauritian Creole which I maintain should be officially recognized as our National Language and be called Morisien/Mauritian. Moreover, to show the vibrancy of our de facto, not yet de jure national language, I have translated inter-alia 9 plays by Shakespeare, various classical writers such as Moliere, La Fontaine, Keats, Blake, Saint-Exupery, Orwell, to mention only a few. The translation of religious literature (Bhagavad-Gita, the Old and New Testament, the Holy Coran etc.) has shown the expressive power of our language.

All my works can be enjoyed free of charge on 3 different and specific websites. These sites are visited mostly by literature, linguistic and Creole Studies students and researchers all over the world. My my.t account entitles me to a certain amount of memory space and 2 benefactors have agreed to host one website each. This situation is cumbersome and unwieldy. The ideal situation is ONE website where all my works can be accessed, consulted and enjoyed.

I wonder if the state and government of Mauritius can help through Mauritius Telecom by providing me with 1,000 Mb of memory so that my nation building efforts are sustained.

Please note that I believe that Mauritius is neither “Petite France” nor “Little India” but is, like Rodrigues, Reunion or the Seychelles, a CREOLE ISLAND peopled by immigrants from Europe, Africa and Asia. On our island TWO creole languages are spoken, namely Mauritian/Morisien and English. Yes, English is a creole language.

In that context, a genuine Mauritian/Morisien and English bilingualism together with functional bilingual literacy can easily be achieved provided we stop wearing blinkers and decide on a progressive language policy in our formal education system.

We should stop fooling ourselves into believing that schooling automatically leads to basic literacy. A vast majority, well over 50% of our children remain non-literate after 6 years at school. This can be remedied not necessarily by radical reforms but by introducing into the school curriculum, from class 1 onwards, a new dynamic compulsory though non-examinable subject to be known as Bilingual Literacy for one period of 40-45 minutes per day.

As you are aware, I am a Politburo member of the Labour party. This will not be changed. Yet, since there are issues which transcend party politics, I am prepared to start the ball rolling by launching a national bilingual literacy movement inside and outside schools. There are issues like global

warming, climate change or food security which should not be determined by electoral choice and hazards. Literacy and nation building are two of them and they should be ongoing process in a democratic society, no matter what.

Yours sincerely,

cc: the Labour Party and MMM leaders