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The cultural diversity of Mauritius – Towards National Unity in Diversity

The cultural diversity of Mauritius – Towards National Unity in Diversity

Mauritius is a blessed land. Nowhere on earth is there such a harmonious mix of culture marked by sharing and understanding. It is a fact that cultural differences can be a source of conflict but in Mauritius, in general, we can consider ourselves to be lucky as even if on very rare occasions there have been some issues in this regard, our political leaders have been sharp and swift enough to put National Unity at the heart of our social harmony. Nothing is perfect but on a daily basis and since childhood we are soaked in the blend of cultures which gives us a unique perspective and prepares us to be truly global citizens. We are first born human beings, then Mauritians and depending on our faith we become part of the Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Chinese, Tamil, Telegu, Marathi community or any other community. The colour of our blood is the same.

 

It is therefore of no surprise that Mauritians are deeply aggrieved by racial conflicts around the world as for most of us, there is no point. Accepting the differences is part and parcel of our daily life. Today we are celebrating Ugadi, ie the new year for the Telegu community. This underscores that  we are one people and one nation and granting a public holiday for this event is a clear indication that there is no question of minority group in our mother land. We are all Mauritians and we respect on an equal footing the culture of one another. However, celebrating these public holidays as simply a public holiday is not the best stance to it for it is a Mauritian celebration. As Mauritians, it is vitally important to understand the culture of one and all and make the effort to probe into the specific aspects of each celebration.

 

We ought to be proud and happy that our successive governments since independence and even before have been able to maintain a socio-cultural sustainability in our island hence giving Mauritius a unique appeal which would need to be preserved and perpetuated.  We are more and more discussing the intercuturality which should permeate in our education system. This would be one key aspect to definitely be entrenched in our system to safeguard national peace in the longer term.

 

Globalisation and inadequate transmission of cultural values could be serious threats to our cultural sustainability. Parents, educators, the media, religious bodies and the society at large have a significant role to play in ensuring that the future generations transmit the right values, traditions, principles and rites of each and every culture which lay the foundation of a Nation, emphasizing the fact that sacred books of all religions highlight basically have the same principles and values and that it is a matter of interpretation and choice of the path.

 

We quote here an old story in French which Mauritians (who are multilingual) will understand.

Le père de mon grand-père, pour honorer Dieu, sortait de chez lui très tôt le matin, aux premières lueurs de l’aube. Il se rendait dans un bois en suivant un chemin qu’il était le seul à connaître, jusqu’à un pré situé au pied d’une colline. Arrivé près d’une source, il se mettait devant un grand chêne et chantait en hébreu une prière solennelle, ancienne et secrète.

Son fils, le père de mon père, sortait lui aussi très tôt le matin et se rendait au bois en suivant le chemin que son père lui avait fait connaître. Mais lui, qui avait le souffle court et l’esprit préoccupé, il s’arrêtait avant le pré. Il avait trouvé un beau bouleau, près d’un ruisseau, devant lequel il chantait la prière en hébreu qu’il avait apprise enfant. C’était sa manière d’honorer Dieu.

 

Son fils aîné, mon père, avait moins de mémoire, était moins religieux et avait une santé plus fragile que son père. Aussi ne se levait-il pas aussi tôt que son père et son grand-père. Il allait juste à côté de chez lui, dans un jardin où il avait planté un petit arbre. Là, il murmurait à peine quelques mots en hébreu, souvent imprécis et pleins de fautes, pour honorer Dieu.

Moi qui n’ai plus ni mémoire ni temps pour prier, j’ai oublié où se trouvait le bois de mon arrière-grandpère, je ne sais plus rien des ruisseaux ou des sources cachées et je ne sais plus réciter aucune prière. Mais je me lève tôt, moi aussi, et je raconte cette histoire à ceux qui veulent bien m’écouter : c’est ma manière à moi d’honorer Dieu.

 

This story lays emphasis on the fact that we tend to forget our traditions from one generation to another, leaving out specific details at each generation leading ultimately to the demise of the cultur. We should be well guarded that loss of traditions and the continous weakening of our cultural strength. This could lead to a moral and ethical degradation to a certain degree. All stakeholders have to be on their guard to avoid such a situation.

 

We should not have a ‘2 lizie’ policy and treat our neighbours, colleagues and friends similarly as otherwise this could give rise to conflict. Mauritius is a pleasure for sure but to move towards Mauritius Republique Durable ensuring that our cultural diversity and intercultural harmony are sustained is in the hands of all of us, Mauritians. So let’s work toward this laudable goal.

The Patriot

23.02.2012

Mar 23, 2012
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