Fanning the embers of ethnic division

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Well-intentioned people, Samaritans, philanthropists and well-wishers, put your hands together – whichever side your religion dictates – and join me in a prayer: Thank you God for your kindness and thoughtfulness. Thank you for sending us a saviour at this opportune time. Father Jocelyn Grégoire has come all the way from Washington to save our bacon! Last time we heard of him, it was after the former president of the republic had stepped down and there were rumours that the government was going to be forced to hold an early election. Then, there was total silence until every failed and aspiring politician we know suddenly found out that there are poor people in this country and that they are even worth a visit or two.

And, like all those sent by thee to save us, Father Jocelyn Grégoire has been doing this very discreetly: as soon as he landed, he gave a press conference, a press interview in our sister publication l’express dimanche and is in the process of meeting politicians of all boards. All in the disinterested spirit of helping others.

His all-too-altruistic fight is first and foremost for the Creoles in this country. He is “tired of seeing the rights of Creoles being trampled,” he says. Our dear priest even has a concrete example: the Rodriguan squatters of Cité La Cure. Then he moves on to talk about all these qualified people who cannot get jobs and who are being discriminated against. Remember he had – in another life – asked for quotas. He has since mellowed down. They all need jobs in the public sector and he is going to talk to politicians to remedy the situation.

Now, of course no one is gullible enough to think that there is any meritocracy in this country in any sphere of our lives. However, to reduce this debate – which we have several times highlighted – to an ethnic aspect is pathetic, particularly in a country where traditional tribal values reign virtually unchallenged among a large part of the population. Apart from fanning the embers of ethnic division within the community, this kind of talk is demotivating even for the ones whose bacon the good priest claims he has come to save. Discrimination – and this is not restricted to one community – should be fought through established institutions, not on soap boxes at intervals during campaign periods.

After this divisive talk, as there are not enough votes – sorry, not enough Creoles – to help him achieve the ambition he has now publically declared, our good priest calls on all the other minorities to join his fight against injustice. He suddenly discovers – in the same way he discovered that the Creoles were discriminated against by the other communities – that discrimination exists against all communities. So all the Franco-Mauritians who are being discriminated against – there must be loads of those – the Chinese, Muslims and sub-sections of the Hindu community, have been invited to join the fight against injustice. Those of you who are not gullible enough to think that politicians will solve your problems, please take your favourite tranquilliser. Mine is ear-plugs. I strongly recommend it.

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