I am Roche-Bois, I am NOT shocked!

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[Photo illustration]

[Photo illustration]

The article featured in the last issue of l’express dimanche on Roche-Bois questions the basic assumptions and amazing hypocrisy that underlie Mauritian society and our supposed national fight against drugs. We like to understate the problem and believe that the latter will be resolved by itself, ‘comme par magie’. How come some are showing more anger ‘vis a vis’ the journalists than towards drug traffickers, implying that the former are more dangerous than the latter? What is this political game?

If we believe that we shall all defend places like Roche-Bois but at the same time we shall avoid going there or sending our children to stay over at night, it does not make sense, does it? Do you know what it is to live in Roche-Bois on a day-to-day basis? How your own relatives look down on you? And how taxi drivers do not want to give a ride back home, no matter how much you pay them – because they are scared both by drug offenders and ADSU?

Now does it sound right when one believes that l’express is giving a bad name to our neighbourhood? Should we not have called a spade a spade? Or should we avoid writing articles in order to ensure everyone’s reputation is intact? I read lexpress since I go to secondary school (Collège Lorette de Port-Louis). I am now in my early 6o’s and I hate the hypocrisy that’s been going around since l’express said that there is ‘nisa’ in Roche-Bois.

So, according to some out there, is there no ‘nisa’ in Roche-Bois? Oh you mean there is some ‘nisa’ over here, but not too much? If some people want to keep their eyes and ears wide shut, that is their problem, but I will not. Where I live, it is a fact that even policemen are afraid to come at night, when my neighbours and me call them — to chase down the hundreds of people who come over here to purchase their ’nisa’, as it is a well-known hypermarket of ‘nisa’. To all those who are supposedly defending Roche-Bois and who are also attacking l’express I humbly request you not to tweak the truth to fit political agendas or commercial interests coming from journalists who do not have the same audience as l’express. If Top FM or Inside News write a bullshit title, who cares? But if l’express does, it becomes national interest!

We live over here and we do suffer, as mentioned by the article. We are afraid, and we keep quiet. This is the reality and why should a title or newspaper be blamed when authorities, inhabitants, and some NGOs know very well that illicit drugs are easily available in the area?

Despite strict penalties for illicit drug use and sale, I’m afraid that the use of illicit drugs remains widespread and continues to be a serious health and social problem in my locality of Roche-Bois. Year in, year out, politicians and alliances come and go, but the problem, well before Kaya and Berger Agathe, remains the same. Various reasons explain the limited effectiveness of substance abuse programmes. The number one reason is that programmes focus on visible manifestations of substance use. Yet visibility of drugs in particular communities does not necessarily imply drug use among residents of those communities. So instead of shooting at journalists who are doing their jobs, we ought to deal more effectively with illicit substance use (heroin, synthétique, chemicals, etc).

In other places of the world, a crucial thrust of anti- drug activities has been to engage communities, for example with folks from Roche-Bois, perceived to be hardest hit by illicit drug use in organizing prevention, treatment, and aftercare initiatives. Public and private agencies have provided resources for communities to develop comprehensive anti-drug programmes that engage and promote coordination among governments, private organizations, citizens and…the press. Substance abuse is associated with significant harm to individuals and communities. Also, communities themselves can shape the behaviour and beliefs of individuals.

Though public rhetoric underscores that substance abuse harms all of us, not only the most disadvantaged, the predominant focus of social policy experiments has been and will continue to be on those areas where social problems are assumed to concentrate: poor, inner-city neighbourhoods, typically inhabited by minority populations. Contrary to evidence that drug use is rampant in minority communities and disadvantaged neighbourhoods, many who live in these communities see dealers, rather than users, as the primary problem. Many users drive into our neighbourhoods. Thus, visible drug use and sales in a neighbourhood may not necessarily imply high levels of drug use by residents of that neighbourhood. But still the title does apply, n’est-ce pas ?

Marie de la Cité

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