C’est Quoi ‘Un Peuple Uni’ et ‘Une Nation Moderne’?

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The slogan of the new alliance PTr/MMM is ‘Un Peuple Uni’ and ‘Une Nation Moderne’! The leaders and propagandists of this new alliance are proudly rallying under this slogan as, in their minds, this slogan spells out what they want the population to think is going to happen to and in the nation once they are in power. 

‘Un peuple Uni’ and ‘Une nation moderne’, they seem to think, are going to be the ‘next big thing’ for the Mauritian economy, society and future. After all, who wouldn’t want to see a ‘peuple uni’? Just think of it. Everybody getting on well with everybody else around them regardless of ethnic background, religion, etc.! Everybody in Mauritius sharing the same values and goals for their lives and future, we are all just one big happy family! Wow, how wonderful! Who would not want that? Has there been a society in history where this kind of utopia has ever existed? Answer, NO. Apparently, Mauritius is going to be the first one! 

What about une ‘nation moderne’?  Not only will we have new roads, new high rise buildings and a large new, modern airport but the majority of people in Mauritius will have high speed cable internet connection, instead of going to CEB or the post office every month to pay our bills, we will be doing it from home online. And here is the big one - when you go to withdraw or make a deposit at the banks, you will no longer have to fill out these paper forms, you will be able to just present your bank ID card and tell the teller what transaction you wish to make and it is done in about 2 minutes. Can you see this happening in ‘modern’ Mauritius? Yet, I can take you to several modern countries today where this is exactly not just how banking is not only done but has been the way for the last 10 years or more. 

So the question needs to be asked :what is Mauritius to look like as a country with a ‘peuple uni’ and as a ‘nation moderne’?  

Has it occurred to anyone that the leaders of this new alliance with their clever slogan have never defined in any meaningful way what they mean by these terms? They have never defined what is ‘un peuple uni’ and what is a ‘nation moderne’! Yet, they want us to believe that this clever, catchy phrase is more than a slogan, that it is their political engagement and commitment towards us! that this will be the outcome that we will get if we vote for them! 

One would not be wrong to expect from the campaigners some clear definition of terms being used. More than that, some very specific, descriptive word pictures of what these terms mean and what the implementation of them would look like in the economy and society. The new alliance has done none of that. They have not because they cannot. They know, as any thinking person knows, that it is just clever use of words that are meant to have an emotional overtone in the hearts and minds of the populace. In themselves, they are meaningless words with no substance. 

In my opinion, the PTr/MMM alliance is displaying a sense of exaggerated arrogance. The mathematical equation may be on their side, but one should not underestimate the electoral will and power of the people (…). 

This is 2014 and the electorate today is more wised up than ever before. The part of the electorate today who are educated, informed and thoughtful about their country and what kind of society they want to see has grown significantly from one or two decades ago.  In other words, the intellectual base in Mauritius is no longer the few, elite people in academia like was the case in more traditional time. No, there have been important shifts in our society and culture since the 1990s that have resulted in a more informed population. 

Questioners and critical thinkers today can be found across all sectors and age groups of Mauritian society and their numbers are growing. Through education and the internet, larger numbers of people in Mauritius are now better informed about what is happening in other economies and countries around the world. People are generally more wised up today to advertising messages, inappropriate attitudes and behaviour from leaders and decision makers, empty political promises and the like. Our political leaders seem to think that they are still dealing with largely an uninformed and unthinking electorate.

I think that a large number of the population were as outraged as I was to see the attitudes of the Prime Minister and Bérenger towards members of the press at the press conference of the launch of their alliance. These journalists are intelligent people who are as keen to do their job well as these two politicians claim to be. Yet, it was with attitudes of belittling, lack of civil and professional respect and even mockery that the two political leaders answered the legitimate and daring questions of many journalists present. 

Both leaders conveyed the attitude and tone that it is ok for them to say and criticize what and who they want but when several journalists asked them good, pertinent questions, which is their job to do, they were belittled, criticized and clearly treated without due respect. How is that unifying the people and building a modern nation? I hope that one of the media organizations will indeed take action against Mr. Bérenger as they are considering doing for his coarse attitude and behaviour towards their journalist.  

I know that I will not be voting for someone who comes across so arrogant as to say on the one hand that the purpose of education is to learn to think for yourself and ask questions, but yet when fair and legitimate questions are asked of him, and at a press conference, the questioner is left being belittled and condescended to. 

In my opinion, Mauritians are already a unified people in many ways. While politicians play their part  we need to recognize that the peace and desirable ways of life we have in Mauritius are, to a large extent, due to us the people who everyday decide to do our part for a better society and country. 

For a political party to assume that they have the power to unite a people shows both ignorance and arrogance on their part. People will unite if and when they want to unite. The role of the political leader is to inspire them to do so, to provide good, honest, rational reasons to do so, and to demonstrate basic civility and respect towards all citizens that they want to lead and inspire. 

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