18 septembre 2009

SSR's birthday, the yearly national joke!

Today, Friday 18th of September, we are celebrating the 109th birthday of late Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam in Mauritius.  As every year, since a whole week, there are short programs on the national television channels as a  tribute to him.  I thought it would my good deed for today to make clear for those whose minds have been profoundly shaped by the Mauritian political culture that this practice does not exist beyond Mauritius.....

It is now almost part of the Mauritian folklore to celebrate the birthday Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam (also give the title of father of the nation by some).  However, in my belief, there is a major problem about it!  A major one, because there are many other ones concerning the SSR myth in Mauritius.  And this problem is that birthdays are not celebrated after someone's death!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Going rapidly through one of the (for this post considered as) minor issues concerning SSR, he was far from the ideal corresponding to a 'father of the nation' that people want to attribute him for he was himself against independence and was among the lasts ones, if not the last himself, to join the struggle for independence.  I thought of putting the word 'struggle' in italic for in the case of SSR, it was never really a 'fight' for independence as Gandhi or Mandela had fought for whatever they believed in.

Back to the main issue: birthdays are not celebrated after someone's death, however great and awesome that person might have been.  Actually, we do commemorate the anniversary of their deaths. This is a normal and often protocolar practice regarding eminent personalities.

Birthdays are, on the opposite, barely mentioned.  We will hear of birthdays when and only when it would have been a birthday to which we assign a significant importance - example: 100 years.  And there also, it is not called "celebrating the birthday of..." but rather "commemorating ... on the birthday she/he would have had celebrated today, was she/he still alive"

It is sure that I am grateful to Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam as the hundreds, if not thousands of people who have significantly helped in shaping our country.  It is also sure, that today is not a day of tribute or special thoughts to him or any of them.

It is simply one of these days where I feel that the political culture on this wonderful island I am proud to be a citizen of, is way too cheap to aim at being constructive...


Photo: 1. www.kodawari.com, 2. www.wikipedia.org