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Launch of Vidya Golam's Honourable Yago


Wednesday evening saw the launch on the verandah of Eureka, the preserved old colonial house in Montayn Ory, of Vidya Golam's "Honorouble Yago". This is the English language version, much developed, of his biting political satire, "Onorab Yago" published by Ledikasyon pu Travayer 10 years ago. The launch event, organized jointly by the author and LPT, the publisher, was attended by some seventy people, a mixture of friends and family of the author, his work colleagues, and LPT members and guests. Vidya's daughter read beautifully from the first Canto, and his son took charge of the sale of books.

The poem tells of the rise and fall of an opportunist politician, very much a composite character, made up of all the main politicians we already know and others. Populist and demagogic beginnings, taking control of the party, even the cultural group, then becoming "honourable", then minister in a coalition, only to fall to a "potsam", collapsed stage and near escape from a bullet. The booklet contains an erudite preface by Nandini Bautoo-Dewnarain of the University of Mauritius.

Alain Ah-Vee, presiding, gave one of his now legendary LPT speeches, spanning the first book by Vidya Golam that LPT ever published, KANSER, in 1983, when production was by roneo machine, going through the time when Vidya was on LPT's very first jury for its Literary Competition in Kreol, to Vidya's twice being awarded prizes in subsequent Konkur Literer organized by LPT, to today, the launch of the second incarnation of his "Onorab Yago". He also spoke of the honour to the Kreol language to have a text originally in Kreol being translated into English.

Anil Gopal, in his launch speech, did a sensitive texual analysis, showing the verve and scope of Vidya's language, while Daniel Honore, from Reunion, referred to Vidya Golam's qualities as friend and writer, and hailed the courage needed to attack the politically powerful. Lindsey Collen, expressing appreciation of the taut structure and narrative in the poem, said the play could perhaps have a further incarnation as an operetta.

Vidya Golam said how he thought that the seriousness of the degeneration of political democracy, not only in Mauritius, but world-wide (he referred to Bush's USA) was what inspired him to rework a new Honorable Yago.

The book, which enriches Mauritian literature in terms of genre as well as content, is available at Bookstores and at LPT.