There is a feeling of unease and anxiety that has taken over part of us. Not one of us or some of us, it exists inside all of us. It flares up from time to time making us feel small and helpless. Other times it disappears, and we think it gone forever – until that next time when it gnaws at us. Fear always finds a way to seep back into our hearts, and this year has been full of Fear.
We rely on our senses to navigate our way in this world. We watch where we go, we feel for what is dangerous and what is safe. We know to stay away from the stench of death and decay. So, what do we do when we are faced with a new threat? One we cannot see or hear. One we cannot touch, taste or feel. We’ve lived with threats like those for generations, but this one had an extra ingredient. It was one we had never faced, it was one we did not know.
In the age of instant communication and hyperbole this new threat quickly buried its way into our minds. It became our nightmare. Media went into a frenzy, governments scurried to find dusty policies and lost protocols. Borders were shut and militaristic measures were applied to peaceful populations. Even our small island, far from all else, was not spared as Fear kept us away from each other, hidden in our homes, constantly asking ourselves what was to come next and how long it would last.
Months later the local government is lauding the handling of the situation. There are no more internal cases, businesses are open and innocent people are free to travel again. Life is returning to the new normal. Except for a few factors. New laws were passed conferring more power to the powers that be. Borders remain shut choking the lifeblood out of a major economic artery. Mauritians remain stranded in foreign lands and even at sea. On the island the mood changes, what reeked of Fear gave way to a smoldering Anger.
Ineffective action, bloated departments and scandal after scandal are uncovered. So much has happened that we could nearly forget that the deputy Prime Minister was ordered to step down only a few months ago. The government is floundering at every level. Lack of communication, authoritarian tactics, muzzling of the press, every day brings a new flaw into focus and with it, deep inside, the Anger starts boiling. Mauritians are a patient people, to a fault perhaps. We let many things slide and get on with our lives. As long as we live in paradise what is some more of the same from those that lead us? This party that party, no matter which is in power, it’s the same story over and over again. Except this time it is not.
On July 25th 2020 a bulk carrier that spanned 300 meters crashed onto the southern Mauritian reef. Tempers flared, questions were raised about the processes that allowed this to happen, and about who was responsible for the situation. For days, nothing was done, and then it happened. On day 12 oil started seeping out of the shipwreck. The people exploded. Rage and incredulity were on everyone’s lips. Shock was the prevalent sentiment in the first few days but then faced with yet more inaction and incompetence from the authorities, the people took it upon themselves to rally and preserve the coast. Hundreds if not thousands joined the ranks of various NGOs to help contain the disaster. Mauritius started making international news and with it our politicians, in government and out, were on international TV. For better or for worse.
Now, in the aftermath of chaos and public outcry keyboard warriors are becoming rebels, quiet men and women are making their voices heard, movements are being born and heroes are being made.
Day after day the uncertainty of tomorrow delves deeper with the fog of misinformation. Transparency is nothing but an empty word and information only causes increasing doubt. Has the line been crossed? What does tomorrow hold? It is fitting that the sun sits longer in our skies auguring the arrival of spring. A new day, a new dawn, maybe a new hope. After all, change is the only constant.