What about our shared identity?

13 mars 2024, 09:47


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In the span of 56 years, Mauritius has navigated through its post-colonial journey, grappling with the complexities of sustainable development amidst the tangible impacts of climate change. The advent of projects like Metro Express highlights the ever-pressing need to harmonize the relationship between humans and nature, emphasizing the shared heritage that must be preserved for future generations.

Mauritius, a mosaic of cultures, has been lauded for its economic successes, democratic governance, and cultural vibrancy — a narrative enriched by the visits of distinguished figures from Bernardin de St-Pierre in the 18th century to Nelson Mandela in the late 20th century. Yet, despite these accolades and the influx of over a million tourists from across the globe, the island’s narrative remains confined within the constraints of four ethnic silos, a remnant of British colonial rule. This compartmentalization not only stunts Mauritius’ growth but also hinders the evolution from multiculturalism to a truly intercultural society. The multicultural model, once celebrated as a beacon of coexistence, has become a barrier, manipulated by tribal politics and outdated systems like the Best Loser System, preventing the merit of the individual from shining through.

From its discovery by Arab sailors to its status as a coveted asset by global powers, Mauritius has always been at the crossroads of significant historical, political, economic, military and geo-strategic interests. Yet, the country remains under the influence of dynastic patronages and sectarian lobbies, with those in power resisting changes to the democratic and electoral systems. This dichotomy paints a complex picture of a nation that is both progressing and stagnating, depending on the perspective one chooses to adopt (IMF or Economist Intelligence Unit versus V-Dem for instance). While Mauritius might outpace its African counterparts, it lags behind global standards set by nations like Singapore in several aspects.

Behind the picturesque postcard of multicultural celebration lies a country struggling with nation-building, unable to transcend beyond the superficial coexistence of its diverse cultures. The melting pot remains elusive, with politics often boiling down to a divisive strategy of divide and rule. Yet, at 56 years of independence, it’s high time to confront these challenges head-on.

The most common feedback from our readers underscores a collective yearning for unity over division: «De tout coeur et tous en choeur, faisons vibrer notre fibre patriotique.» These sentiments align with the values our newspaper has championed since its inception in 1963, advocating for independence, comprehensive national development, and Mauritianism. Fifty-six years later, the aspirations of our fellow citizens still resonate with the vision of the free thinkers who founded l’express, aimed at combating for independence and integrated development.

The question remains: can we rewrite our story that has been confined within ethnic silos? Is it time to prioritize intercultural harmony over a brand of multiculturalism that, while once a model, now serves as the primary obstacle to our growth as a country and nation? The unfortunate reality is that such a shift is not a priority for our politicians, caught in the 2024 race for power. Thus continues the saga of our beloved country, as we navigate the delicate balance between honoring our diverse heritage and forging a unified national identity.