Wednesday 6th July, there was a rare event at the LPT Hall in Grande Riviere.It was at the launching of the 100th edition of Revi LALIT. It was a moving re-union of members contributors, readers of Revi Lalit de Klas,a monthly magazine that has persisted through the years as from 1976 till today.
Quite a few of the members that had been actors in the first heroic chapters of this unique magazine were there: Lindsey Collen, Jean-Claude Bibi, Ram Seegobin, Kisna Kistnasamy, Dini Lallah, Vishnu Jugdharry, Serge Rayapoullé, Raj Seegobin, Alain Ah-Vee, Ashok Joosery, V.N.and (surprise, surprise) Evelyne Bibi who is in Mauritius
for a brief visit. Contributors and readers of Revi LALIT, over the last 35 years were
present. Many contributors and readers of the present series of Revi LALIT were present. The LPT hall was filled with different generations of Revi LALIT participants.
The speakers, Jean-Claude Bibi and Lindsey Collen, both founding members, presided by Revi LALIT editorial member, Jean-Yves Dick, were able to communicate to the younger generation of Revi LALIT contributors, the key ideas that have inspired the making of Revi LALIT up to today.
Jean-Claude Bibi, a founding member and now a reader, spoke about the democracy which existed in the Revi from the beginning – the idea of seeing people not only as “consumers” of news and analysis, but as active participants in making news, organising to write it up, distributing it to others, and discussing the articles as readers.
He praised the tenacity of Revi LALIT that has continued to come out despite all difficulties and continues to come out, partly because its aim was to unify struggles (student struggles of May '75 and after, workers' struggles, women's struggles, anti-imperialist struggles).in a common struggle. He also pointed out, quoting examples from an early Revi LALIT (called Revi Lalit de Klas at the time), comparing it to a more recent Revi LALIT, that these publications have a spectrum of subjects that you cannot find anywhere else.
He finds in the Revi a rare way of analysing society on the basis of class. The way that this was done, not as an academic exercise to just analyze society, but as a way of changing it.
Lindsey Collen then explained what motivated the coming out of Revi LALIT : the idea that the MMM (that had two forms- one as a traditional party structure, and one as a movement that aimed at changing society) was putting too much weight on electoral work (just before the December 1976 general elections).There was thus a need for
debates about what was the best strategy to achieve revolutionary goals.
She also pointed out that the structure of Revi LDK was fully democratic and that people wrote news even though they might not know how to read and write it (other people writing their words down – like the experience of Co-operative farming of Paul Duval in the first editions of Revi Lalit de Klas). People who distributed more than 5 Revi, and writers, and producers of the Revi came together in an assembly that would form the structure of Revi Ldk. She also spoke about the democracy that came out at production level – Evelyn and Lindsey were typing up most of the articles, and then they taught
people how to type up their own articles so that two women wouldn't end
The evolution in the technology used was then explained– from lino-cut-printing of each and every Revi Lalit de Klas cover, and printing the number by potato-printing the number, and later by a stamp carved out of rubber; cutting foolscap paper in half manually with a cutter; typing stencils with a manual typewriter that had its ribbon taken out.
Later, typing it with a computer predecessor that worked with "golf balls" instead of ribbon and counting the letters on each line to justify it manually. A process requiring a lot of labour, many hours of work, but clearly a labour of love.
Lindsey then talked about the nature of Revi Lalit de Klas as a “tribinn lib degos” that was unique in Mauritius. It was really an open tribune and no article was refused except for one or two poems that people felt were not artistically good enough.
She reminded those present about a slogan printed at the back of Revi Lalit de Klas: 'Teori' and 'Pratik' in a crossword layout where the R would be common to both words. The Revi was produced by people who not only wanted to analyze society, but analyzed it from the perspective of people who wanted to collectively change it.
Memorable conversation about the history and present role of Revi LALIT continued over gato pima, tea, coffee and juice. No-one wanted to leave.