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MAURITIUS MEDIA at a glance: 21 Sep.2009


Now that the hysteria around the birth date of "Bolom Ramgoolam" has subsided, it would be appropriate to analyse certain elements that have marked the celebrations organised by the Labour Party, and imposed on reluctant students of state schools and MBC TV viewers. We say that the hysteria has died down, but we will no doubt get a fresh burst of it when the PM (FRCP) returns with the Gold, Silver, and Bronze SSR medals from UNESCO. Surely this must be the first time in history that the same person has won gold, silver, and bronze in one go!

But perhaps the most salient feature of the celebrations was the virulent attack by the PM Navin Ramgoolam (FRCP) against those "semi-intellectuals" who had been guilty of distorting history, when it came to the political career of SSR. To some extent the PM is right, and we shall give a few examples:

In the Le Matinal 18 Sep. 2009 report on the SSR Memorial Lecture given by J.B.David at the MGI (compulsory for staff and students), this is what is written regarding the speech: "Le 23 Fevrier 1936, SSR met en place le Mauritius Labour Party avec le Dr. Maurice Curé, Pandit Sahadeo et Emmanuel Anquetil ... "

Anand Mulloo (MMM candidate in the 1976 General Elections) writes in L'Express of 17 Sep.2009: "But the return of Dr. S. Ramgoolam signaled a change which coincided with the founding of the Labour Party on 23 February 1936 by Dr. Curé, Pundit Sahadeo and Emmanuel Anquetil." (Note the clever ploy used by Mulloo to by-pass historical facts).

Now, if this is the kind of History (possibly from text books written by Mulloo and David?) that the PM (FRCP) wishes was taught to school children, then poor old Curé, Anquetil, and Pandit Sahadeo must be getting dizzy, spinning round and round in their graves. The factual aspects of the early part of Seewoosagur Ramgoolam's political career are well documented, and should definitely be included in (non-phantasmagorical) History books, and taught in schools. What are some of those facts?

Until 1947, S.Ramgoolam was a member of the Union Mauricienne party, alongside the likes of Raoul Rivet, Martial, Poupard, Antelme, Edgar Laurent, Jules Koenig, R.Gujadhur, A.R.Mohamed, R.Hein, Maxime de Sornay, Atchia, etc. He was a Union Mauricienne candidate at the Port Louis Municipal elections in 1940 (when he lost), in 1943 (elected), and again in 1946 against the Labour Party of Rozemont, who was beaten.

In the 1948 General Elections, S.Ramgoolam, Beejadhur and Vaghjee won in the Pamplemousses and Riviere du Rempart constituency against Labour Party candidates.

It was only after 1950 that the Advance group (formed by Indo-mauritian planters, traders, and professionals in 1940 and led by Ramgoolam) took control over the Labour Party, presumably after a "hostile bid".

So, between 1935, when the "father of the nation" came back from England after 14 long years of medical studies, until the early 50's, he was busy hobnobbing with bourgeois social and political forces while the real workers' Labour Party and Bissoondoyal's anti-colonialist movement were facing fierce repression by the colonial government. The same colonial administration happily nominated Seewoosagur Ramgoolam to the Legislative Council in 1940. It was quite within the ideological and class logic of Seewoosagur Ramgoolam's early politics that his Advance newspaper refused to publish an article written by R.K.Boodhun denouncing the 1943 shooting of three workers at Belle Vue Harel Sugar Estate, by the colonial police.

RS (21 September 2009)