To All Tribal Leaders

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It’s difficult to get away from this by-election business, although what it will prove is anybody’s guess. The timing is awkward as Apollo leaves Delphi at this time of year, although not to the Ivory Coast, so there’ll be no prophecy from Pythia. In any case, with a choice between a disgraced hero’s sidekick, a defector to the Opposition who thinks he’s the cat’s whiskers, and several odds and sods, she’d have had a problem to make any sense of things. At least, whatever Lemon Man thinks of them, there’s a choice of mamzels, so perhaps one of them can manage to put him in his place.

All candidates deserve some respect for standing rather than letting the world trample over them, but most are as flaccid as a week-old lettuce. Wouldn’t it be glorious if voters have the wit to vote for a candidate on her qualities instead of on decades-long loyalty to parties with men well-past their sell-by-dates? Anyway, in case some contenders hope to rely on religious and communal affiliations, it may be a good moment to have a little chat  with you VVIPs.

 For a start, how many realise that human blood is more mixed than is generally realised and that slaves and indentured labourers weren’t only from one community or another? Or perhaps you do and hence the fear of opening up the archives too widely or having a DNA test. For many, caste remains very important, which is perhaps why so many have upgraded their class status since they arrived here. Nor are such factors limited to one group; each tribe seems to have its substrata. “The gods too are fond of a joke” but don’t really understand why it’s so much more socially acceptable to be light-skinned. The Ancient Greeks weren’t perfect about racial equality but they had a high opinion of their colour, even though it was distinctly off-white. They were also a mix of Alpine and Mediterranean origins…

 A little thoughtfulness would highlight the absurdity of communal and religious antagonism. There’s rarely such a thing as a pure race, let alone one true religion. With so many different beliefs around the world, it’s clear that “Men create gods after their own image, not only with regard to their form but with regard to their mode of life.” Admittedly, the Greeks no more wished to see their deities challenged than anyone else but at least they didn’t use ancient texts to justify their assertions. 

Sadly there are many who treat some of their fellows as inferior beings. Add to that the concept of nou bann, particularly abhorrent in whatever tribe it arises, and you have a recipe for conflict. As Pierre Poivre remarked, “When you take a cutting or a plant to a new setting, it grows new roots.” But it seems Mauritian roots take some time to develop. No tribe has the right to claim it should rule the country; numbers aren’t everything. In many places, there are more rats and cockroaches than humans. Mind you, with the rat infestation amongst political and tribal leaderships, and the number of carapates on their fringes, perhaps they’ve already taken over here.

Shouldn’t you be encouraging people to vote for candidates on their merits? Both gods and admirables may laugh at the improbability, but how much better life might be – although, to the consternation of ministers, it might mean job losses amongst you. What a sad thought that would be…

Yours sincerely, Epi PHRON

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