For Labour Day, LALIT supporters gathered at the party’s headquarters at Grand River North West in the Mother Earth Hall, for a richly tapestried get-together – beautiful music of different kinds, international messages, poems, and announcements of forth-coming political events, all dove-tailed around the event, thoughtfully chaired by Alain Ah Vee and Anne-Marie Joly, and re-enforcing Alain Ah-Vee’s introductory speech and Lindsey Collen’s speech on the ambitious theme: “Towards a Working Class Republic.”
The musical variety was four-fold – at least – showing the wide range of musical talent amongst supporters and members. To launch the event, Rajni, partly solo on the electric piano, partly in a drums duo with Fabrice, produced music that was both highly skilled, cosmopolitan and also very Mauritian, that was classical, jazz and sega, while being both technically polished and emotionally strong. It was a eloge to musicians as working people.
In the middle there was a classical guitar duo by Alain S and Jerry, giving a sweet and gentle air to the whole LALIT event, from its core outwards, reminding us how long western classical music has been a part of Mauritius, in particular Ward IV Port Louis and other historical areas where the petty-bourgeoisie developed, independently of the sugar barons and created its own culture.
Towards the end, there was a duo exhibition of ravann beating by Alain and Marousia, showing the history and variety of the versatile one-sided drums – two very different ravann were used – and again, by being grounded in the history of slavery and indenture, linking to musicians as people who work.
And fourthly, there was the singing together of the Internationale, Kreol version, led by four or five women voices, with everyone standing up, fists raised, creating a roof-lifting effect.
What can be retained about all the international messages, Ram Seegobin said, introducing them, is their unanimous appreciation of our chosen theme – of the attempt to link “Labour” and the “Republic”. Messages came from all over, included from organizations in India, Turkey, the United States and France, all commenting in one way of another on the conundrum of bourgeois control over the very concept of a “republic”, while the present day “republic” manages to empty from almost everyone’s minds, its ruinous class content, as a bourgeois republic.
The members who chose the poems said they had not realized quite how well they would work, in terms of enriching theme. The poems included the ballad, “Nu ule pa plis ki bul later” (We don’t want much – just the whole earth) wittily read by Sudha, the collective poem on “Know your Enemy if you Aim for Workers’ Control” (e.g. Li byin fupamal ki kuler u lapo/purvi u fer profi pu li), also read wittily by Ally, two Brecht poems “Injustice Rules” (Zordi Linzistis ki Mari) by Ryan, straight-faced leaving the words to speak for themselves, and “A Worker Looks at History” (Travayer get Listwar) rendered exquisite by Begum. Blake’s “Tiger” (in Kreol it was Tig la, Tig la) by Chloe threw up the images both of a huge, sinewy tiger and also an unimaginably horrid capitalist system that was emerging as Blake wrote his original poem.
Political events coming up
Anne-Marie made announcements for political actions that are coming up soon. First there will be a brainstorming session in Richelieu in the coming week on the land issue.
Then next week a two-event program: the 1925 film Strike by Eisenstein, which will follow the launch of Ram Seegobin’s bilingual book The August 79 Strike: Principles that Govern Strikes as they Unfurl. These two events are in the context of the LALIT’s marking of centenary of the Russian Revolution.
There will also be an event to mark and celebrate the release after 36 years in US jails of Oscar Lopez Rivera.
An appeal was made for people to contribute to the REVI LALIT, our bimonthly magazine, in four ways: to contribute articles, to take on some distribution, to use the magazine as the finest tool for recruiting new party supporters and ultimately members, and to help with collating the pages.
The introductory speech by Alain Ah-Vee and the speech by Lindsey Collen argued the case for a Republic that, instead of pretending neutrality and instead representing capitalist interests, is genuinely a working class Republic.