Corruption has been kidnapped!

For the past three weeks, nobody has a clue where Corruption is. She was seen for the last time on a Saturday night at a private club in Grand Baie, and on Sunday morning her brand new Ferrari was found near a park at Floreal. But of her, there was absolutely no trace!

And then two days later, the news had fallen like a bombshell: She had been kidnapped and the kidnappers were demanding one billion rupees for her release. Honesty, her arch enemy, who had been living all by herself in a slum of the suburbs – neglected and ridiculed – was at last seen roaming the streets. She had now become a force to be reckoned with, and since then a breeze of change had been blowing over the whole country.

In a much publicised interview on a private radio station, Honesty had this to say : “For too long I have been gagged and muffled. Now I am free to speak and with your goodwill and cooperation, I can assure you that we are on the verge of a brave new world…” The first to react was Hypocrisy who gave the assurance that Honesty could count on him to get all the support that she needed. Hypocrisy is particularly known to have the gift of the gab, and in a marathon talk full of resounding rhetoric he had declared that everyone should be glad that Corruption had at last been disposed of. “Good riddance!” he had ejaculated. And in full view of TV cameras he had added: “It’s been a long time since we’ve made an appointment with this golden age, and now, at last, this age is upon us.”

And indeed it was. At the customs, all goods imported were being declared in due form on Bills of Entries. Some officers, who secretly prayed for the release of Corruption, were tearing their hair in despair but there was nothing they could do. All duties were being paid as they should, and millions were finding their way, at long last, into the government coffers. Information which circulated only in certain closed circles were now being made public and everybody was making good use of this turn of events to postulate for plum jobs – hitherto reserved for a privileged few – or to apply for scholarships usually denied to ordinary mortals. Acts of notaries and insurance policies were now written in such plain language that everybody could now clearly understand what the documents said. Income tax forms were being filled with scrupulous honesty and lawyers, doctors and traders were making it a point of honour to declare all their emoluments and assets. So much so, that the MRA was thinking of shutting up shop altogether.

But it was the crumbling of some edifices that grabbed the most attention. Three in the capital had already collapsed. Only a few days ago, they proudly towered over the other buildings around, but now they were just a mass of rubbles. An earthquake, according to the Met, could not have caused more damage. At first nobody could understand why, but then somebody pointed out that these buildings had been built with funds that could not exactly be accounted for and that Corruption might have something to do with it. Oddly enough, some places of worship, too, had suffered the same fate and it began to dawn upon a few that there might be some grain of truth in the saying “many houses erected to the glory to God have been built with the devil’s gold”.

For some this “truth” was becoming too much to bear. After all, it is a country where religion holds sway and some were beginning to say that it was time Honesty should mind her own business and go back into hiding. It was a signal, it seemed, for those who had been secretly negotiating with the kidnappers for Corruption’s release to emerge from the shadows, and quite soon their followers (who were not very bright) had taken to the streets shouting “Liberate Corruption, liberate Corruption …” with placards and all.

Well, after that things evolved quite fast, and before you could say “Jack Robinson”, the billion rupees were collected. It was not even considered to be that exorbitant and there was much opacity concerning those who contributed. After all, as the French say ”Toutes les verites ne sont bonnes a dire”, and Corruption was once more on the loose.

But according to the official news, it was alleged that “Corruption had taken advantage of her captor’s inattention to escape … much to our deep regret”. Those who pretended that it was otherwise would be charged for spreading false news and would be liable “to pay a fine not exceeding …”


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The Kreol language

talking.jpgThe Kreol language

How can I accept that Kreol, my mother tongue, is inferior to other languages spoken in Mauritius? True, it has borrowed a lot from French. But, must it be considered, because of that, to be just a form of bastardized French? If this is the case, then the language of Gaul, (the old name given to France), two centuries after the Romans had left, was just bastardized Latin! Yes, English may be the official language and French may still be popular in some posh circles, but what language would you use to (1) market a product effectively, (2) greet a compatriot in a foreign land, or (3) rally the country if it is being threatened by an alien power? The answer does not leave any room for doubt: in the same language that is being used to harangue the masses during an electoral campaign. Just listen to the sparkle and imagery of its discourse! Could any other language, spoken or taught in this country, have such a gripping effect? But how sad, that as soon as the threshold of parliament is crossed by its dexterous users, it becomes the “lingua non grata”?

How long will this state of things continue? Well, for as long as the language is associated with an ethnic group. Perhaps, in the minds of some, it still stirs up the image of slaves narrating “zistwar Ti Jean” around a fire. But just whisk away these people of African descent, and put white skinned people in their place – and before you say “Jack Robinson”, the language would have earned acclaim.

It beats me how some people can be so ignorant of history. Has it not dawned on them that Kreol, today, is in very much the same posture as English was in the days of the Normans? In those days (1066- 1350) English was considered to be fit only for the peasants while the knights, barons, clergy and other “aristocrats” discoursed only in French. And then what happened?

The farm labourers, the wood-cutters, the poachers of the King’s deer, and the poor “ignorant” villains developed a remarkable language. They threw away all the annoying rules of grammar that make it a point, it seems, of tripping everyone. They could not be bothered to watch their tenses, or make sure that the adjective agreed with the noun, or distinguish between the masculine and the feminine. They spoke as they liked. But most important of all, they had no qualms about language purity, and constantly borrowed words from the language of the Norman masters. And the outcome of it all was the marvelous English language which ended up being spoken and written by those very aristocrats and men of letters who reviled it. In the same way, Kreol is following the same path. There are no grammarians, academics, or other spoil-sports to brake its progress. It does not hesitate to borrow from outside – especially from the scientific and computer world.

This language spoken by this “peuple admirable” is unstoppable. Day by day, it is gaining in richness, flexibility and ingenuity. Although the road towards its acceptance will be strewn with hypocrisy, hysteria and chauvinism, the end can never be in doubt. The decision makers who deride and oppose this beautiful language still have time to show a change of heart. Future generations might judge them less harshly.


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Do we need an Oliver Cromwell?




                   Oliver Cromwell’s speech to the English Parliamentlegislative2_1april07-040.jpg 

It is high time for me to put an end to your sitting in this place, which you have dishonored by your contempt of all virtue, and defiled by your practice of every vice; you are a factious crew, and enemies to all good government; you are a pack of mercenary wretches, and would like Esau sell your country for a mess of pottage, and like Judas betray your God for a few pieces of money.

Is there a single virtue now remaining amongst you? Is there one vice you do not possess? You have no more religion than my dog; gold is your God; which of you have not bartered your conscience for bribes? Is there a man amongst you that has the least care for the good of the country?

You sordid prostitutes, have you not defiled this place and turned the Lord’s temple into a den of thieves, by your immoral principles and wicked practices? You are grown intolerably odious to the whole nation; you were deputed here by the people to get grievances redress’d, but you are yourselves the greatest grievance.

Your country therefore calls upon me to clean this Augean stable by putting a final period to your iniquitous proceedings in this House; and which by God’s help, and the strength he has given me, I am now come to do; I command you therefore, upon the peril of your lives, to depart immediately out of this place; go, get you out!

Make haste! You venal slaves, be gone! So! Take away that shining bauble there, and lock up the doors. In the name of God, go!

  (This speech was made to the English Parliament on 20 April 1653)                                  









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I am looking for a Golf IV


Hello, my name is Joelle and I once starred in a short film “La Voiture Rouge” which may be viewed on In the film I badly wanted a car but I finally ended up getting one. In real life, however, it looks as if it’s harder to get that car of your dreams. You see I’m looking for a Golf IV – not more than 5 years old. So, if you’ve got one for sale, do give me a call on 910 7872. Bye!

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In the name of religion


This country’s exaggerated respect for religion over and above the ordinary respect of its citizens is becoming rather annoying. Ok, I don’t object that you have a right to pray. Far from it! I am even prepared to fight so that you can do so – as many times as you wish. But, really, I don’t see why I should be roused up from sleep when it’s the time for you to say prayers. Surely, while you are invoking God, I do not have to stay awake in the process!

Perhaps several centuries ago, the human voice, the ringing of bells or the blaring of trumpets were the only way to call the faithful to prayer. But since then, a lot of progress has taken place, you know. Nothing stops a person from making use of an alarm clock, the mobile phone or a clock radio to remind him that it’s time to pray to the Almighty. It’s more modern, it’s less intrusive, and I am even tempted to say: more polite!

Year in year out, you make it a point of going to a place which you regard as holy. Ok, that’s your fundamental right. But why do I have to suffer in the process? Why must I sit and chafe in a bus, for hours on end, while you are walking  right on the middle of the road? Why should I arrive late at work because of your zeal to praise God? How can you pretend that you love God while at the same time you are showing complete disregard for your fellow humans?

On a particular day of the week, at a certain time of the day, when everyone is working, you have to go and worship God. All right, do so if you must. But don’t you think, that you would rise up in others’ esteem by coming to work earlier on that day, or going home a bit later? That way, everybody would be earning the same pay for the same amount of work. Is there any valid reason why this cannot so? – according to the rules of elementary human justice.

And one more thing… as far as I know, that national airline of ours is called “Air Mauritius”. It is not known as “Community X & Y Airlines”. Well, tell me then why are certain dishes – but not alcohol drinks, strangely enough – banned on that airline? Why can’t I taste a good steak or a bit of ham under the pretext that persons of faith X & Y would be inconvenienced by that type of food? How do these people fare when they travel on other airlines?

But rest assured, dear reader, that I am not advocating the banning of religion. By all means, be completely free to practice the religion of your choice… but in the process don’t be too showy about it.  You know, I think that religion is like sex, it should be practiced in a very discreet way.


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Le Morne


What’s all this nonsense about Le Morne? Just because the Appravasi Ghat has been inscribed on the world heritage list, does this mean that Le Morne also should follow suit? But that’s Mauritius after all. Now that the Hindus have had their “boute” the Creole community also should get theirs.


But tell me, what can it matter to a poor Creole family that Le Morne becomes a “patrimoine mondial”. Will this automatically fill their empty larder with food  – or equip their living room (if they have any!) with new furniture?   


What this country needs is a decent living standard for everyone. So, I’d welcome any decent project in Le Morne area if this means more jobs and money for all those poor around.


Ms Deepa Bookun of L’Express is right when she says: “I’m all for symbolism and preservation of our heritage but not at the cost of our bread and butter. We will only be in a position to insult potential investors when our coffers are full and we don’t need their money. As far as I know, we are a long way short of this.”


As the French would say: “A bon entendeur, salut! 


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La lutte pour l’existence


(Tou lé zour mo bizin tracé)

C’est fou ce que vous pouvez faire attention au détail quand vous êtes pauvre. Vous savez au sou près combine coûte un paquet de macaronis, une boite de sardines, un verre d’alouda. Vous savez combien de temps vos chaussures vont durer, combine de fois votre chemise a été rapiécée, le nombre de jours avant la prochaine paie, le nombre de trous dans votre toit cannelé.


Vous savez tout faire: vous êtes pêcheur, plombier, électricien, maçon, charpentier, et jardinier. Oui, jardinier… même si vous n’avez pas de jardin. Car vous avez fini par cultiver des pommes d’amour dans un vieux baquet! Et vous en cueillez une chaque jour pour votre dîner. Combien ça peut coûter une pomme d’amour? Bof, pas plus que cinquante sous. Mais ces sous, au moins, le marchand ne les aura pas!


Mais la roupie remonte la pente, on vous dit, tout est donc pour le mieux ! Et la TVA à 10% qui est passé à 9,09%, vous pouvez donc payer ! Et nos réserves en devises qui ont augmenté de … zut ! Vous ne savez plus par combien de milliers ? de milliards ? Mais qu’est-ce- que c’est tout ce charabia?


Il y a tellement d’autres choses qui vous préoccupent: combien d’insultes encore de ce patron, combien de nuits encore à l’usine, combien de mois encore avant cette opération chirurgicale, mon Dieu… combien de temps, combien de temps encore avant que vous recommenciez à boire, boire pour oublier, comme cet homme qui s’assoit sur le trottoir et qui pue l’alcool, et qui va battre sa femme avant d’aller se pendre sous un manguier.


Et les jours passent. Et ce monde qui continue à se payer de votre tête… Mais que pouvez vous faire contre ce monde?


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The perfect hostess


I was once invited to a party at the British High Commissioner’s residence in Floreal. On the way, I was held up in a traffic jam and when I arrived, the party was in full swing. As I expected, the cream of our society was there: ministers, directors, advisers and “experts” from all walks of life. But having drunk a Scotch, I mustered enough Dutch courage to approach an ex-school mate, then a dabbler in politics (who, may I add, once went out of his way to shake my hands at the end of a political rally).

I breathed a sigh of relief. So, I was not among complete strangers, after all. Here was a “honourable” friend with whom I could have a bit of a chat. But when I drew level with him, he just stared at me coldly. His lips curled down in contempt and not a flicker of recognition showed on his face. But I tried to keep my composure, and slowly edged towards a group where I had noticed an ex-colleague. Unfortunately, it was not my lucky hour. His glance just shot through me, as if I was transparent. Well, how could he see me, engrossed as he was, to capture the attention of the minister, a few steps away!

Clearly, I had come to the wrong party. And, believe me, had it not been for the High Commissioner’s wife, I would have gone home right away. But the lady was the perfect hostess. Nothing could miss her eye, and she must have witnessed my discomfiture. Briefly introducing herself, she inquired who I was, and started to draw me out. She did it so well that I forgot I was talking to a stranger. How long did we talk, I cannot tell. But then, an amazing thing happened. Those very people who had completed ignored me came to join us. As if by magic, they had regained their memory and I was once more among “friends”… Well, to be more precise, they were just eager to be seen in the company of a white lady.

This is not a story. It really happened, and I often wonder why some Mauritians are so drawn towards a white stranger – just like black ants are drawn on white sugar!

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My neighbour’s first TV

















In 1965, my neighbour bought his first TV. Until then, he had been blisfully unaware of the countless friends that he had: long lost friends, friends of his youth, old school pals…

They would go out of their way to bump into him on the street and then make as if it was a perchance encounter. 

“Fancy you meeting you, George! It’s been so long”. They would at first inquire about his health and then boldly say : “You’ve bought a TV, I see”. Well, the trouble with television is that it proudly advertises itself from your rooftop!


They would flock into his living room to pay him a friendly call, and once they were snugly seated in front of his TV he was simply ignored. Once, someone complained that the reception was not very good, and asked in a petulant tone if he could do something about it!

When there was a football match, he could hardly breathe for they would flock in – reinforced by their sporting friends. “Ton George won’t mind, he’s such a nice fellow!” Indeed, Ton George soon found himself relegated to a stool on his doorstep where, for all his neck’s craning, he could barely catch a sight of the screen. Once, he tried to say something but was unceremoniously silenced with a disapproving “Shhh!”

This was the straw that broke the camel’s back and he decided it was time to act. And so when the next big match came (Manchester United v/s Benefica), he quietly slipped out and went to the pictures!


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Food for free (well almost!)




Chutney de Tilapia (caught at La Ferme)

Salade de patates (dug from my garden)




Plats Principaux 



Touffées de margozes (picked near my bamboo hedge)

Rôti de tendrac (killed by my dog)





  Compote de bilimbis (plucked from my tree)


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