Mauritius – From the Roots to the Fruits

Using the approach one of my compatriots demonstrated us during his travels overseas, I wanted to show the true colors of my native island Mauritius.

The local Mauritian Rupee

I focused especially on our local coin, with the tails showing the arms of our nation, and the obverse showing the face of the one we call the Father of our Nation, since our country was proclaimed independent thanks to him. But it’s not in that shape that I saw the coin. Seeing the arms of our nation, I saw several indications about our local money: A deer, a star, a key, a coconut tree and a vessel. The deer was representing one of the local animals of my country, especially during the hunting season. The star represents the country as the star of the Indian Ocean. The key represents the same thing. The coconut tree showing our country as a tropical destination. Finally, the ship represents our country’s period of colonization, during which so many ships arrived to explore the island. However, it’s not in that context that I want to represent the local money. I rather see on the tails the whole nation in general, and the way it is presented, or rather the way it should have been presented, as it represents the shape of the country, which is getting more and more lost within all the generations. However, the obverse, though it represents the Father of the Nation, is to me the personality of each individual which composes the Mauritian nation. I rather see the obverse in the meaning that each Mauritian should be put back in question, retrieve his or her origins and original ancestral values, and from that point, rebuild his or her own personality, which would largely contribute into changing the shape of the nation, as it’s unfortunately mostly based over illusion, virtual and passivity. This is one of the projects on which I am actually thinking about, as I would like to help each Mauritian individual to retrieve his or her ancestral origins, and from that point, re-discover the countries and the regions where their ancestral roots took birth, so that each individual re-works on his or her own ancestral roots to rebuild his or her own image, and from that point, to rebuild indirectly the shape of all a nation. Here are the facts, which inspired me to the will of creating that project, which I started creating through a first approach I did by email to the Circle of Genealogy Mauritius – Rodrigues (CGMR):

Holi Celebration in Mauritius

  • First of all, I based myself on the projects “Humans of Mauritius”, “Humans of New York”, “Humans of Bombay”, etc. where several people in hazard have been interviewed and snapped, and where they shared, during their interview, their way of seeing life, by bringing something original within the human aspect of their country. This inspired me in my aim of launching an initiative about a spiritual journey with oneself, starting with retrieving one’s ancestral origins.

Rehann Hoi Han’s photographic art

  • I based myself on the paintings of one of my friends from Konkani in Maharashtra, and the pictures of a well-known French photographer settled in Hoi An, Vietnam, where both captivated several people’s faces, as according to them, each facial expression contains a story which belongs to the snapped individual himself or herself and to the community, region or belonging concerning him or her. Because those pictures and paintings were mostly based on the facial expressions, especially the eyes, because within those individuals’ eyes, there is a lot of mystery and some stories which remained untold.

  • I recently read a story where Bill Gates offered a tip of only USD 5.00 to a waitress after he paid the bill for his consumption. The waitress was shocked that the richest man of the world gave such a meager tip, whereas the day before, his son, who had a meal in the same restaurant, gave a generous tip of USD 500.00, certifying that he was Bill Gates’s son. Bill Gates then replied to the waitress: “And me I am the son of a farmer!” This is the proof that example always comes from upper generations, and that our elders are the ones who show us the way, however it may be a positive or a negative way of life, and that it’s depending on that way that their descending generation will evaluate. This is also one of the reasons why I should rebuild the image of the Mauritian individual and the image of the country itself, which is too much based over racism and communal-ism, through showing the example by myself by my own journey to my ancestral roots.

Tamil scriptures from Tamil Nadu, South India

  • Recently I have just watched a short film, which I picked from one of my South Indian friend’s Facebook timeline : It relates the story of two South Indian natives settled in London. One of them, who was settled in London well before his compatriot, expressed himself more in English than in Tamil, his native language, whereas the other one remained friendlier with his native language than with English language. The older expatriate invites the new one to take a hot drink at his place. By proposing him tea or coffee, the older compatriot mentioned the English words “tea or coffee”, whereas the new expatriate requested him to reformulate his question in Tamil. As the new compatriot was served his tea, the elder one asked him why he didn’t like English language. Then the new compatriot replied those words, which should make us thinking about it: “I like speaking English, but I love speaking Tamil”. This is a sign that the new compatriot, though he is settled overseas, never forgot his ancestral roots, and he isn’t the kind of person who lets himself getting passively embraced by the culture of his new host country, at a point where he would be totally or partially uprooted. He wants to make us understanding that, as well he respects the native culture and language from his host country, his patriots who took birth in his host country should also respect in the same way his ancestral origins and language. And that young man, whose nickname is “Tamil”, even was interviewed for having a job in a Tamil speaking television channel, but at his biggest disappointment, his interviews were rejected, because his interviewers insisted that English language should be also included in his way of expressing himself, whereas “Tamil” fully disagreed and instead insisted that pure Tamil language was applied in his job. He even was in admiration when he heard his compatriot’s friend’s children trying to express themselves in a slow, innocent but very beautiful Tamil language which kept him in admiration. But where “Tamil” will especially be deceived is about having his original ideas exposed to a corrupted South Indian politician, who seized the opportunity, in front of the media, to repeat Tamil’s ideas as if the ideas came from him and not from Tamil, and this purely within political purposes. “Tamil” was very deceived as his intention was to cultivate the Tamil culture within each Tamil people’s heart and soul, but not making of Tamil culture something politic. Also, he was so angry that politely, but firmly, he took his distance and refused to move besides the politician. While watching that movie, I thought about my South Indian friend whom I picked that video from, who always dreamt to leave everything behind him for a better earning, but who very quickly disillusioned when he faced the hard reality that the grass wasn’t greener elsewhere, and understood that his true home was in his native region and not in his host region. I had a special thought about all his South Indian and Sri Lankan compatriots, who left their native country to settle overseas to settle their own business to supply the whole host country where they were settled, and who had to face everyday the passivity and indifference of the local people in front of all the sacrifices they daily endure away from all the people who are dear to us and away from their native country. I also thought about each ethnicity which composes our country and our sister island La Reunion, especially how within that melting pot, we have somehow been uprooted from our ancestral origins, in such a way that very few among us are really trying to understand where we come exactly come from. Very few Indo-Mauritians did the first step by looking for their ancestral roots from Bihar, which a lot of Indo-Mauritians are originated from, despite all the facilities offered to them to do it. In revenge, in Reunion Island, more and more Tamil people are experiencing that ancestral research, at the example of the Souprayenmestry family, who published a book about their ancestral lineage. One of my uncles from my mother’s family kept the complete genealogical tree of the family, a genealogical tree I would like to retrace as we have some mixed origins from Europe and even from Africa. Moreover, almost in that same context, there was one of our journalists who launched an initiative by organizing an audio program at the local radio, « Wanted poster », where through her thick files, she helped thousands of Mauritians retrieving some parents whom they never heard about before and who existed close to them geographically. I also think about a friend of mine who had the huge surprise to retrieve a lost relative after so many years, and who would have some family links with one of our local famous singers, who seemed to be also one of my friend’s cousins. I don’t know though if one day, I will have the chance to live that experience, but I truly wish I could find out where my ancestral roots are, where those parents whom I still ignore the identity are worldwide, either alive or dead, so that through their existence or disappearance, I could retrieve my ancestral roots and rebuild my personality by basing myself on what I obtained from my ancestors.

Bollywood stars Aishwarya Rai-Bachchan and Akshay Kumar in Indian movie “Action Replayy”

  • It’s true that coming backwards on our ancestral origins could allow us to rebuild our own personality, but in some different contexts, by going back in time, it could help us improving ourselves also to contribute into repairing our elders’ past mistakes. As I mentioned before, the example comes from above. It could be a positive example, like it could be a negative example for the forthcoming generations. I disagree with the fact that our ancestors’ descendant should passively repeat the same mistakes as their elders, because their elders did those mistakes in the past. Also in that context, I wouldn’t say that the example comes from above, but I would rather say that the example from above can be corrected by the descendants if they take example on their elders to build within themselves a better personality. Michael Jackson sang it in « Man in the mirror » : « I’m starting with the man in the mirror… I’m asking him to change his way… And no message shouldn’t kept in the cupboard… If you wanna make the world a better place, take a look at yourself, then make a change ». This is how the younger ones can contribute into correcting their elders’ past mistakes.
  • Let’s take then example on the Hindi movie “Action Replay”, starring Akshay Kumar and Aishwarya Rai in the main roles. Akshay Kumar is a dumb man, though he is the owner of a big restaurant, whereas his wife Aishwarya Rai has a big mouth and loves money and luxury. Their son cannot bear seeing his parents fighting all the time for silly things, but as he is an intelligent and mature young man, he would like to try to understand why his parents fight all the time, and he cannot either accept that his parents refuse to tell him the truth. Also, with the complicity of a good friend, he goes into a time machine which takes him back in time when his parents were still single and still didn’t know each other. The young man effectively noticed that his father Akshay Kumar was really a dumb person, whereas Aishwarya Rai was a real missed boy without any femininity. Also he will try his best to help them in his own way to correct their mistakes, and he will be very satisfied seeing his parents totally corrected from their mistakes before going back into his time machine and going back to his contemporary era. And when he comes back in his present era, he has the happiness of seeing that the negative shape of his parents’ relationship disappeared though they turned older, and that they appeared on a brand new shape totally united and madly in love with each other, thanks to their son’s intervention into their tumultuous past. In that same context, I wish I could also have at my disposal a time machine, so that I could go back in time to really understand what happened in my family, and how there have been so many failures which provoked some discordance mostly provoked by my mother herself. I wish I could also really understand how my mother became so much naughty and devastating, so that I could change within him what isn’t good and transform her into a good person who would have made of my father a better man, and even who would have encouraged him to be a great role model for his family as well as for his children. One day, I read a quote saying that « The man is here to govern the world, whereas the woman is the crowd over his head ». It means that a woman can be as well a golden crown assorted with precious stones, as well as she could be presented as a crown of poisonous thorns over a man’s head. But beware: the woman I am describing in that message is just a metaphor, because as well as it must take both a man and a woman to make a couple and create a family, it also takes both tails and heads in a money coin, as well as it takes all a regroup of different individuals to create a mixed nation. According to me, the man represents the tails side of the coin because of his authoritarian personality, which gives him the ability to govern all a nation, whereas the woman represents mostly the head of the money coin, as the personality of the individual who represents the nation. I still remember an article one of my overseas friends once posted on her Facebook timeline regarding a message from a political figure about the First Lady, describing it as a key role, as she should represent a full support and a good adviser and best friend for her life partner within his journey into representing the nation. In her message, that political party was especially criticizing the First Lady of the country, because of her materialistic and arrogant behavior towards the people, and the fact that she is all the time against her husband! This is the total contrary of the personality of our Nation’s Father’s wife, who was known as a sweet and humble lady who always opened her door to anyone who would come to knock at it, and who would even serve all her guests a good hot and comforting homemade meal prepared by her. And in that same context, that is why I would like to turn back time to repair our country’s past mistakes in the aim of rebuilding the present, but also to use the good basis from the past, which disappeared in the present era, so that they could be restored in the aim of rebuilding the image of the Mauritian people. I remember, by writing those lines, that at the end of the Tamil short movie I told you about, they showed a study certifying that 200 Indian dialects got totally lost since colonization period, and that some organizations are trying hard to restore them in the Indian Peninsula. Moreover, in our country, which is supposed to be represented “As one people, as one nation, in peace, justice and liberty”, there are too many words finishing with the suffix “ism”, which are used to describe the local environment: Racism, geocentrism, egoism, communism, communal-ism… Also in that framework, the shape of the negative First Lady would then be used as a metaphor to symbolize all those words using the suffix « Ism », such as that First Lady I mentioned you before.
  • Finally, I based myself on a quote which came into my mind while I was thinking about all that, « From the roots to the fruits », a quote which suddenly appeared in my mind whereas I never heard about it before, nor did I read it anywhere, and which nonetheless really exists. According to me, our country bases itself too much on the harvested fruits that we produce, but we seem to forget too much about the roots from which those fruits were produced. I remember once having seen a picture about the importance of our roots. It represented two drawings. On one of them, there was a carrot which produced long leaves, but under the soil, the carrot was very small and not in good health. In the second drawing, the leaf on the floor was very small, but the carrot under the soil was thick and healthy. The trouble is that people rely too much on the appearance of others to judge people. In the case of the carrots, for example, people will judge the carrot with big leaves as a healthy carrot, whereas they would perceive the carrot with small leaves as an unhealthy carrot full of infections! Also, either they will throw away that lovely carrot with small leaves, or they will apply all sorts of products in that carrot, thinking they are doing the right thing to make it growing healthier. This is exactly like this that the human nature goes on. The leaf which emerges from the soil represents the appearance, on which people base themselves most of the time instead of trying to discover what is really hidden behind that appearance. And as the appearance disappears and that the reality appears, then people get disappointed because they are too much concentrated on whatever appearance is showing to them, and it’s a proof which really certifies that appearances are deceptive.
  • To conclude, I don’t agree that each individual composing a nation should remain passive towards whatever their elders brought in the older generations, either they brought positive or negative things. Good examples from above should be taken as strong examples to help us improving and knowing where we come from. However, bad examples shouldn’t be passively followed by our elders’ descendants, but instead be taken as lessons so that we don’t repeat the same mistake within the new generation, and that instead we try to repair our elders’ past mistakes through the positive things we obtained from the new generation.

If you wanna make the world a better place, just take a look at yourself, then make a change. (Michael Jackson)


Author: ekasringa.umavaghat

I am a Unicorn. I am Unique. I am Uma.

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