Mauritians And Their Collective Amnesia When It Comes To Their Origins

I was browsing Facebook late at night while the cyclone was raging outside.  It was an exciting moment, a synergy that could be felt even from behind a computer screen.  Social media was ablaze with posts detailing the various degrees of damage the cyclone was causing in its path, people sharing anecdotes and memes while others joined in to comment, good old camaraderie that can only be felt during times of crises.

But amidst all this mirth, some unspeakable and appalling posts, racist and discriminatory diatribes, the like of which you wouldn’t expect from people who call themselves Mauritians.  Because Mauritian is an identity, our foremost identity.  In most countries, the nationalistic stance is to identify with the national identity.  Not in Mauritius though.  Certain people still think they’re stuck in medieval Bihar, a place ruled by ruthless casteism and petty tribalism, and a general mentality as bleak as its environment.

It came to my attention that several people were blaming the Creole minority for having the gall to ask for food and nourishment during their stay in relief centers.  The comments were outrageous and callous.  How dare they speak badly of Sinatambour’s ”biscuits cabine et delo”!  Apparently, poor people should be elated to dine on stale biscuits, according to some pestilential viewpoints perpetrated by equally pestilential adults with no semblance of any humanistic inclination.

These people are vapid and jealous, it is funny actually to note just how jealous and envious they are of people who are in distress.  They actually believe, in a twisted way, that poor people being the recipient of national attention, means that they’re now on the fringe of society.  They’re basically whiny children stuck in adult bodies.

The collective outrage is funny and the reasons for that outrage, even more-so.  Some people believe that being poor is a choice.  Incidentally, being an asshole is a choice as well.  On a more serious note, Mauritius is still a third-world country, in the continent of Africa, where relative poverty affects a huge fraction of the population, while absolute poverty affects around 20 000 people.  For these people to go around claiming that poor people have it coming to them, and blame them for being ‘victims’, I’m loath to say that it’s a bad case of collective amnesia.

We’re mostly 3rd generation descendants, born to parents whose grand-parents or great grand-parents were brought to this country as cheap labor, to work the sugarcane fields or provide some other type of manual labor.

Creoles were brought as slaves, but when slavery was abolished, they switched to a more bohemian lifestyle, hunting and leading a peripatetic life in nature.  Behind prison-like enclosures, Indo-Mauritians replaced the slaves, lived in squalid conditions with up to 15 children crammed in a hut.  That was merely 150 years ago.  For the descendants of these people to go around pretending like they’re royalty, it is indeed a severe case of collective amnesia.

And now, how does this connect to our current levels of poverty mainly affecting those from the Creole minority, as some would like to pretend?  If we were to actually rue over the origins of this abject condition, we’d have to take into account the various hurdles that prevented their assimilation within society.

Language barriers, difficulties in acquiring land and property, an education system that ostracizes people more than it prepares them for life, a saturated economy where not all occupations yield a life-sustaining pay.  I could go on.  To blame the poor for being poor is nothing but sanctimonious victim blaming.

Many Mauritians feel like they somehow broke the glass ceiling by being employable and because they enjoy a decent standard of living.  But the corrosive mentality that permeates our culture shows that despite their materialistic successes, many people still abide by those same casteist rules that plagued their ancestors back in India.

With a view of the world so contrived and haughty, according to which poor people ought to be excoriated and reviled, a country can only dream of real growth, and not just growth measured in dubious figures, but cultural and geopolitical growth that would entail the complete eradication of third-world notions and ultimately, inequality.

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A Guide To Dating In Mauritius For Women

We don’t talk about it very often because our culture didn’t evolve to include open dialogue between the sexes and honest discourse on relationships, as a whole.  When was the last time you heard someone holding forth on the aspects of healthy relationships and a healthy sex life?  Sure, we have extensive reading material about those things in our rags but they are glib and superficial.  They’re presented as shock pieces to titillate our curiosity and nothing else.  But in the media and everywhere else, our prudish attitude toward sex prevents us from engaging in insightful and thoughtful conversations that would help us mitigate certain bad consequences that emerge from bad relationships.  And those consequences impact women on a larger scale.

As part of the New Year celebrations, a radio show focused on things that marked us in the past year.  Among the topics that were being expounded, crimes of passion raised the alarm; we have a very unhealthy idea of relationships.  The new year began with another crime of passion making headlines; a jilted husband had shot his wife and then turned the gun on himself.  Another child will be growing up without a family, due to our collective apathy on what is destroying our society from within.  Here are some useful guidelines for dating here, in Mauritius.

1. The misogynistic ones wear their misogyny as a badge of honor-learn to identify the signs

These guys are loud and very passionate about their disdain for women.  When people tell you who they are, believe them.  Those guys always jump at the opportunity to deride women or lecture women on how they ought to behave.  So it goes without saying, they’re quite fond of the traditional gender roles, where they will have the upper-hand, almost all the time.

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Why can’t every man be Don Draper?

Needless to say, your relationship will revolve around his needs, his views and his sexual appetite.  He’s the king and you’re merely the dinner.  Unfortunately, men of the aforementioned creed, make up a huge chunk of the population so you need to learn how to spot them and how to casually avoid them.

 2. Avoid male prudes like the plague

As a 21st century woman, it is quite offensive to imply that women shouldn’t enjoy sex.  It’s biology, it’s science, it’s the core of human existence.  But Mauritius is still quite a dogmatic society where people expect you to abide by the tenets of their religion, as if you’re not allowed to have your own version of tenets to abide by.  As a result, sex is viewed under a very repressive light, that you’re supposed to indulge in it when you’re married and that’s it.  There’s no sexual education for kids in college and teen pregnancy is quite a big problem here, due to this inane misconception about something so natural.

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Tada.

There are many guys here who’ve been raised to think that only they ought to enjoy sex.  It’s very common in oppressive cultures to have men who walk around believing they’re Rocco Siffredi and looking down on women who want a piece of the cake.  Those men are not going to be fun to be with, especially if you’re the kind of woman who’s self confident enough and has a healthy self-esteem.

3. Observe their social circle

Men who cannot be friends with women are almost always sexualizing the opposite gender.  Of course, attraction is normal but a person who cannot overcome physical attraction and maintain platonic relationships with people, is the definition of a red flag.  In Mauritius, many activities are limited to men, and they take great pride in partaking in those activities with their male friends.

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This female computer engineer has no female friends, which is OKAY.

Often, in patriarchal societies like ours, women who mingle with men are harshly excoriated so watch out if your guy has no female friends.  It means that he probably sees women as a dating accessory only.

4. When he overtly criticizes women’s rights movement, he’s telling you he doesn’t think much of women

When someone feels the need to tell you that views on gender shouldn’t evolve and specifically targets your gender as being inferior and not eligible for equal treatment, you have to understand that you will never be equal in their eyes.  There is no worse outcome in a relationship, which ought to be fun and spontaneous.  People who are opposed to your own progress and to the progress of women’s rights in general, are not going to vouch for your well-being.

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Thankfully, he’s not into women.  If he were, he wouldn’t be getting any.

 

It is 2018, the times have changed.  The #MeToo movement has finally sounded the death knell on abuse in many countries, female leaders are more vocal than ever and society is finally making amends for the inequalities of the past in developed countries.  It is time to eradicate these anachronistic attitudes toward women and relationships in Mauritius and level the playing field.

 

Why I’m A Feminist In Mauritius

I’d ask myself the question, going over the possible reasons about whether I should adopt the label or not, encumbered by the various reactions (euphemism for insults) that would naturally ensue.  I do not understand how a very straight-forward concept has been warped by so many of its detractors, to the extent that sometimes the negative outweighs the positive.  And I’m somewhat in between of that spectrum, I understand that everything is nuanced in life, but do those who are more than eager to throw a whole movement under the bus, understand that very nuance?  I’m afraid not.  Why else, would one clamor for a revisionist stance on women’s rights?

I was born on the Paradise Island, I grew up here, I’m more than ”well-acquainted” with the culture, I’m a product of it.  And I despise it-the culture.  I was born a woman, and there lies my only crime.  So my life should be a whitewashed version of what it ought to be, similar to that of a reprobate who’s serving a life sentence.  I cannot be anything but a woman and by that I mean, their definition of a woman.  Their nurturing, feminine, grossly sexualized, timorous, servile counterpart.  If I cannot be those things, then tada-here comes a barrage of unwarranted, unfounded criticism.  Behold the blitzkrieg!

Let’s keep it real, multiculturalism rhymes with tolerance of the intolerant (okay it doesn’t, but you get the jibe).  Somehow, it’s acceptable in 2018 to expect women to abide by rules set in the dark ages.  Sure, those rules aren’t engraved on a mound in Port-Louis nor are they evinced religiously in the media; those are our mores, our norms.  And you might be asking yourself- Aren’t you just reaching?  Which is pretty normal, because those in a privileged position aren’t going to just open their minds all of a sudden, we are after all a deeply flawed species.  But no, I’m not reaching.  I’ve experienced this society from within-a society that gangs up on females for the crime of bodily autonomy, a society that expects mothers to be slaves to their families, a society that tells women they shouldn’t enjoy sex.  A society that turns a blind eye to domestic violence and abuse and then ponders-What is wrong with us?  Well, everything.

I have to google the definition of the word ‘Paradise’ because in our case, it’s such a misnomer.  Let’s just say it’s a paradise for those who wanna escape to luxury hotels whose walls guard them well from the perils of this deeply primitive society.  And what fuels that aversion, that deep vituperation, is the fact that women still don’t have access to reproductive rights.  It’s 2018 and religious crackpots are still dominating public opinion.  And I know, many people ( I mean it, many) don’t give a fuck about our ordeals as women, because they’re not attuned to the concept of empathy or extending their understanding to those they’ve marginalized and dehumanized their whole lives, but do try.  It will help you become a better person (if you want to).

What about those Soviet-era grannies warming the benches in the Parliament?  As women, we ought to recognize that, not every woman is a feminist.  These female MPs-cum-crooks have done nothing for the female cause, here in Mauritius.  Zilch.  Nada.  And what should they have done, you might ask?  Well use their fucking ostentatious degrees and positions to accomplish something…anything.  I don’t care how many females have been chosen for positions within the government, I don’t care about the copacetic lip service, what I care about is action and by action I mean, solid, undisputed action to address inequalities that hamper women’s pursuit of happiness here in Mauritius.

#JusticeForBlacky…What Justice?

A thought occurred to me as I was driving along the bustling streets of Rose Hill.  The cops were everywhere, walking around surveying hawkers, looking for some ti dimoun who might have committed a petty infraction, scrutinizing parking areas and handing out tickets willy-nilly.  What a horror show, I thought.  If only they would use their energy to keep our streets actually safe, to protect our children and our citizens from lunatics.  But, insofar as their training is concerned, it just doesn’t allow them the freedom to exercise the powers of their own conscience.  Or maybe, they’ve been advised against it, because let’s face it, police everywhere act as a proxy for the ruling party, not the rule of law.

When Blacky’s tragic story was circulating on Facebook, I couldn’t have been more crestfallen.  There it was, an innocent dog, whose severed limbs and nearly disfigured head commanded attention more than anything on social media, not just for its sheer brutality, but for that grisly juxtaposition; an innocent soul that’s been wounded beyond words.  Unspeakable.  Appalling.  The reactions varied, but almost everyone concurred that the perpetrator ought to face a harsh and swift comeuppance.  That is, a very unlikely fate.  It remains to be seen what change the government will bring about to ensure the safety of our animals, because as of today, the maximum sentencing for brutality against animals is 6 months max.  Yes, you can kill an animal and get out in 6 months.  But if you smoke weed, you’re looking at 5 years.  What a paradise, I must say.

The violence isn’t unusual, especially when it comes to animals.  The evolution of our collective intelligence never really included introspection and empathy, or rather, they might be ill-defined.  Discourse on social justice and progressive ideals is limited, which is why, people do not get to access ideas that might reinforce their belief in humankind.  Stratification exists among the class groups, species, families, religions, you name it.  The word ‘Mauricianisme’ is lobbed around by hypocrites who want to sell this image of a pristine island accessible to all, but they willingly ignore the social issues; the bane of our society.

Nikhil Aumeer, the callous piece of excrement who tortured Blacky and killed Dipsy, is not a rare type of psychopath, especially when we analyze the kind of environment that spawns soulless creatures like himself.  His history of criminal convictions includes attempted murder and yet he remained at large, terrorizing his family and neighbors, in spite of the charges levied against him.  Violence begets violence, and violence is the norm in many parts of this island.  Whether it’s communal violence, domestic violence or drug-fueled violence, it’s rarely tackled because our judicial system is as weak as it could possibly get.  You’d think that it should be the first thing to fix on the government’s agenda, but maybe a society hamstrung by its ills, is more easily wooed.

It goes without saying that progress will not be achieved unless we all stick together, stick to ideals rather than petty tribalism and figure out where we’re headed as a society.  We’re after all a fledgling democracy, our colonial past is still looming behind us and our principles are as jumbled as they could be.  But we must not kid ourselves, justice is a rare treat in this type of paradise and many have their own stories to tell to corroborate this statement.  If mob justice prevails, then maybe we have a chance.  But, mob justice doesn’t bode well for a democracy, a strong judicial does.

So what are our MPs waiting for?

The Worst Thing About Patriarchal Societies Is That Women Aren’t Allowed To Have Fun

I cannot think of a worse outcome for the other half of humanity- the ones who give birth, the ones who dedicate their lives to nurturing and protecting other human beings.  Somehow, along the way, it was decided that theirs ought to be a morose destiny.  They cannot be allowed to thrive, they are certainly confined to the realm of political correctness more than any other group and the sheer fact that their individuality is often put to the test just corroborates my claim-women aren’t supposed to have fun.  Our happiness isn’t a paragon of our journey in life, well at least not in openly patriarchal countries.

Unlike men, who are allowed to be as crass as they want to be, as depraved as they choose to be and as free-spirited as they demand to be, women cannot choose to embody values that are inimical to patriarchal values.  Whence did this double standard come from?  Well I cannot say, but it might be biblical or Hindu or Muslim in nature, but it certainly stems from the infancy of our combined human intelligence.  Just as much as some of us abhor the notion that religious leaders try to suck us into their mental vacuum, women must stay away from these thought control systems that have been the source of their modern scourges.

The most obvious reason why sexism impedes our pursuit of happiness is that we, as women, are seen as the other sex.  The lascivious sex.  The Manic Pixie Dream Girl.  The Mia Khalifa.  Well you get the mental image.  We cannot present ourselves the way we want to because certain people (most people) have already decided our identity for us.  It doesn’t matter how smart or driven you are, it doesn’t matter where you’re from, as long as you have that thing in your nether regions (a cool thing I might add), you’re already encumbered by these atrocious subconscious demands.

How do we change that?  The sad thing is, it’s going to take a while.  Maybe more than a while because our liberation is only going to be possible insofar as religion has lost its grip on humanity.  Meaning that, as long as people cannot think for themselves, cannot empathize with those who are different from them, well, we’re still going to have to fight for a chance to exist.  Because, sadly, it’s all about our own existence, we’re denied an autonomous existence, we’re robbed of it because of our sexuality.  And that doesn’t mean that we have to gear our sexuality a certain way to hightail to equality.  It just means that, as long as certain people cannot see past the curvature of our bodies, we’re doomed to a passive existence.

Panem Et Circenses

Another week of  political scandals and machinations has elapsed and there isn’t much we can do except ratiocinate even the direst of the events that occurred.  We witnessed our freedom of expression laws being eroded in the most ruthless manner, we read about a high ranking official slut shaming a woman he’d been sexting and an MP publicly excoriated a female journalist by implying her gender is inferior.  These are just some of the new developments in the political arena, notwithstanding the reams of scandals that have already defined this administration.

Three journalists were apprehended in the wake of Ravi Yerrigadoo’s resignation as Attorney General, after Hussein Abdool Rahim alleged that they were implicated in a smear campaign against the latter.  The laws are so bendable when they’re in favour of the  politicians, which means that they get to indulge in their petty shenanigans and wreak havoc on their detractors.  But the fact that our law officials are anything but unbiased in this situation means that anyone who isn’t a politician has a lot to contend with should they dare take advantage of our freedom laws.  A politician can make death threats in broad daylight and that’s the end of it, but a journalist mustn’t ask answers, which essentially negates the whole purpose of their occupation.

What’s more, we’ve become totally attuned to the flow of scandals being unveiled, so much so that they’re now perceived as local entertainment.  The lack of transparency within the government and the justice department has given rise to the ambiguous practice of throwing people under the bus without impunity.  This has been the legacy of our country; politicians (the people who you’d expect would be well versed in our constitution) are often embroiled in legal affairs that would befit only a hardened criminal’s CV.

The press faces lofty challenges in disseminating information among the masses, in the guise of those bendable laws that can be used against them anytime a politician takes offence at a jibe.  For precautionary reasons, journalism has devolved into verbatim translation, which doesn’t leave room for existential debates.  And when they do delve deeper, they face appalling opposition from those who’ve been elected to oversee the rule of law.

As long as the scandals are approached with levity, we’re not addressing the crux of the problem-politicians are above the law.

 

Women’s Rights And Gender Inequality In Mauritius

Inequality, as a broad term that covers several areas, has stymied progress in Mauritius for a long time now.  What we need to do to liberalize our society, as well as our economy, is to push for forward-looking policies that have the advantage of steering the country in the right direction.

Inequality in our society doesn’t impact everyone in the same way; the distinction needs to be made.  Mauritius, being a highly patriarchal society, has failed to enter a progressive phase that would’ve liberalized society for women, not just in terms of mores and norms, but economic parity as well.  In terms of economic parity, several studies have shown that the gender-pay gap is salient throughout all sectors of our society, which can be attributed to the fact that women in general, aren’t present in the top hierarchies of companies, despite excelling in academic settings.

As well as not possessing economic clout, women are highly disadvantaged when it comes to exercising their own freedom.  The archaic laws that govern our country have made it illegal for women to have reproductive rights, which basically reduces them to brood mares for the state.  And as a corollary to that, just recently the Ministry Of Health was exhorting people to procreate more as the birth rates are ostensibly plummeting.  In light of the various economic and social inequalities stalling our progress, it wouldn’t be unwise to think twice before procreating.

The abortion issue is rarely ever broached into the mainstream conversation because we have a nation of fully-fledged bigots who cannot fathom differing viewpoints.  So much so that you have to remodel your life to meet their expectations, and that too is framed into our laws.  It is quite alarming that in this day and age, women haven’t yet seized the baton of resistance to clamor for their own basic human rights.  This reality is appallingly obvious in the way that women are treated by law officials; several domestic abuse victims are advised to bury the hatchet with their assailants because the rupture of the nuclear family is more worrisome to authorities than the dehumanization of women.

All these issues stem from the very fact that in this society, we rarely ever extrapolate on policies that would really benefit the core of the nation but instead the benign skirmishes among politicians make the national headlines almost everyday.  This languor when it comes to progressive values we ought to espouse, will slow us down further on the evolutionary ladder.

Societies that fail to address their lofty inequalities aren’t conducive to widespread growth.