[This article is based on research carried out by Mr. Farook Baucha some 30 years ago at the Archives of Mauritius and the library of the Supreme Court.  He also gathered  some valuable information by interviewing the descendants of the Goumany family.  Mr. Baucha is a post-graduate in Urdu language and is now a retired Education Officer. Noor Hassan Goumany, grand-nephew of Dr Idrice Goumany, has been very kind and collaborative to show some of the doctor’s personal effects and rare documents in his custody ]
In the 1880s, when the island was in dearth of professionals, it was a great achievement for someone to be qualified as a medical practitioner  but it was indeed a big exploit for someone from a modest background to have undertaken the long and perilous travel by ship to Europe and get enrolled in a prestigious university despite all types of restrictions imposed by the colonial authorities on the people of Indian and Creole origins.  Add to it the prejudices against non-Europeans which prevailed in Europe at that time.  Dr Idrice Ameer Goumany and his contemporaries, namely Dr Madar Cassim Noormohamed Sakir, Dr Hassen Cassim Noormohamed Sakir, Dr Marie Francois Xavier Nalletamby, Dr Mourchide Sheikh Hossen Camal Boudou and Dr Annasamy Sinatambou leap-frogged the ladder of social mobility by becoming the first batch of doctors among the non-white people of Mauritius.  However, the name of Dr Idrice Goumany stands out most prominently, not in terms of his seniority for being the first to have completed his graduation in 1883 but for his heroic action in saving the lives of his country-fellows.  He positively responded to the official call of the colonial government, when others categorically refused to take charge of the Quarantine of Pointe aux Cannoniers, which was then overwhelmed with patients afflicted by epidemic diseases, predominant among the indentured labourers arriving by ships to Mauritius.
Idrice Goomany was born on 4th May 1859 at Pagoda Street in the Eastern Suburb of Port Louis, then known as Camp des Lascars.  His grand-father originating from Cochin in the western coast of South India settled in Mauritius during the French rule to work as lascar (sailor) and married to Marie Bactor on 4th February 1802.  From this lineage, he had three children Douglad, Ameer and Çayeroune.  It has to be pointed out that, according to the law of the French colony, any child registered at the Civil Status Office had to bear a Christian forename.  Hence, the first Goumany born on the island was registered and officially named by a Christian forename “Douglad”. In his family circle he was known as Doukia (meaning unfortunate in Urdu).  It was much later that the grand-father of Idrice Goumany came to know that the Indians or slaves not wishing to attach Christian names to their  newly-born children had the liberty not to declare them at the Civil Status Office.  This was exactly what he did in case of his younger kids.  Being a pious muslim, he did not register the birth of his second son Ameer and his daughter Çayeroune in order to be able to retain names derived from his culture.
Ameer Goumany married Roselie Margueritte César in 1839.  This union gave birth to Idrice Goumany (b.1859), Assen Goumany (b.1860) and Mirmani Goumany (b.1863).  The Goumanys were very committed to the upbringing of their children through education.  Ameer Goumany, just like his elder brother Doukia, had experienced injustices and ill-treatment during his education phase and, therefore, he was not inclined to send his three kids to the same public school he had attended.  He rather opted for a private school called “Pensionat de St Louis de Gonzague” (founded in 1852).  After successfully completing their primary education in December 1868, Idrice and Assen joined the Royal College, while Mirmani, who completed her studies in December 1869, opted for apprenticeship in handicraft.  It was not a common practice at that time for muslim girls to go for further education.  At the Royal College, the Goumany brothers had Hassen Sakir and Anasamy Sinatambou as classmates.
After completing his matriculation at Royal College in 1878, Idrice Goumany devoted himself , for a little while, to the business of his father.  He then travelled to Europe for higher studies.  He studied medicine in Glasgow and subsequently he followed a surgery course in Edinburgh.  Before returning to Mauritius by the end of 1887, he stopped in France where he fell in love with a French woman.  This relation did not materialize.  It was indeed very costly for a Mauritian to afford to pay for higher studies in Europe.  The father of Idrice Goumany who was in business struggled hard to sustain the long educational pursuit of his son abroad.  There is not much information whether Idrice Goumany travelled to Europe via the Cape route or Suez Canal, opened in 1869.  It was not until 1888 that the British took control of the Suez Canal.  It is very likely that Dr Idrice Goumany could have opted for the shorter route via Suez Canal as he might have got the logistic information through the Consulate of Muscat representing Turkish interests in Mauritius, and more so, as Egypt was then part of the Ottoman Empire.  In fact, there is documentary evidence that Mr Gassy Sobedar, a prominent religious leader of Camp des Lascars and a neighbour of the Goumanys, had interaction with the Turkish authorities regarding the appointment of an imam (priest).  In one of the rare photos of Dr Idrice Goumany, it is noticed that he was dressed in western lounge suit with a Turkish Fez (bonnet Turk), a trait of modernized Turkish nobility of that time.
On his return to Mauritius, Dr Idrice Goumany worked for more than one year as a private medical practitioner at Camp des Lascars.  In the beginning of 1889, an outbreak of an epidemy of smallpox took thousands of lives in the country.  The situation was aggravated by the fact that the ships carrying indentured labourers disembarked increasing number of patients with epidemic diseases.  This was further compounded by the fact that the quarantine was without any doctor following the demise of Dr Horace Lazare Beaugeard.  Despite the repeated calls by the colonial government, no doctor wanted to risk his life by coming in direct contact with the patients.  This was evidenced by a case reported to the Health Commission regarding Dr Vinson who categorically refused to treat his patients.
In mid-May of 1889, Dr Idrice Goumany volunteered to take charge of the Quarantine at Pointe aux Cannoniers.  He gave his heart and soul in performing his duty.  In a matter of few weeks, he was successful in curing many patients.  By mid-July 1889, while the epidemy had almost disappeared, the Health Commission was alerted that Dr Idrice Goumany had contracted the virus.  The Health Commission made a daily follow-up on the state of health of Dr Goumany.  As the quarantine of Pointe aux Cannoniers was a prohibited area to the public, the members of the Goumany family had to go to the Health Commission in Port Louis to enquire about the health of their kindred.  On 29 July 1889, while the Chief  Medical Officer was apprising the members of the Health Commission, in the presence of Assen Goumany, of the fact that the health of Dr Idrice Goumany was improving, a male nurse rushed into the office to announce the demise of the doctor.  The members of the Health Commission were shocked and the brother of Idrice Goumany fell instantly unconscious on the table by this sudden announcement.  The Health Commission, which met in special session on 30 July 1889, decided that Dr. Idrice Goumany be given the same recognition as the one given to his predecessor, Dr. Horace Lazare Beaugeard, and that his body be buried with all honours at Pointe aux Cannoniers.
The demise of Dr. Idrice Goumany was a national tragedy for the country but it was an irreparable loss for the Goumany family.  It took the family almost one generation of sacrifice and toiling to trace the way of Idrice to a higher position and it gave just a momentary satisfaction to find him bloom like a rose and wither forever.  Many of the assurances and promises given to the Goumany family by the colonial Government remained unfulfilled until this day.  The example of Dr. Idrice Goumany must be projected as a model to posterity and can serve as a national symbol in the consolidation of the Mauritian society  but it seems that the national hero is a victim of indifference and runs the risk of falling into oblivion  unless there is a conscience revival to reverse it!