Blog: Unity in Diversity is still Unity
It is not what our leaders say on the political rostrum that constitutes reality in its totality. It is the ground reality that makes nationhood or disturbs it. Here are certain disturbing events culled from the harsh reality of the ground.
• A vocal minister defies his party and promises to his voters that he will fight tooth and nail for Muslim women to wear the veil even where there is no habit for such practices.
• In those sectors of public service where political authority is wielded by the PMSD, the Christian is automatically preferred to Mauritian of other faiths.
It is true that there is an Equal Opportunities Commission. Very often it is toothless against blatant injustice because the political machinations that override the principles of fairness and equity are too strong to allow the victory of the just but politically weak.
The Prime Minister is opposed to the policy of carrying out a demographic census along the ethnic lines proposed by the Constitution. But the counting is still taking place by parcelling whole groups into subgroups. Such groups are reinforcing their separate identity however small their numbers can be. Any number forms a group and it is supposed to gain its recognition by virtue of its separateness rather than its numerical strength. Some groups which are forward looking and capable of transcending divisions pride themselves over beating the recognized majority that is peppered by intestinal conflicts. When caste and language parcel a community into slices, there cannot be unity. In the midst of such confused statistics, and with a view to derecognizing different markers that can retard or even nullify the formation of a nation, up-to-dating the census as per criteria of 1972 will be a powder keg that will burst relationship between religions, exacerbate differences and cause a balance preserved by convention and history to be disturbed. A nation is always afraid of cultural novelties, specially when different groups forming the whole have to metamorphose themselves to form a new entity. History can testify to the inexorable tragedy of communities that have preferred being enslaved by foreigners to seeking a peaceful compromise allowing one ethnic group to reign with the assistance of others.
Where is the youth of Mauritians going? In secondary schools Asian languages act as a divisive factor and create patterns of differentiated affiliations. Telegu pupils form a gregarious unit different from Tamil learners, Urdu and Arabic learners. Diversity does not forge unity. In fact diversity is creating a climate of variety, different and apartness. Separateness for the purpose of learning a different language becomes a pretext for separate companionship.
As elders, we are too happy with the sham show of apparent unity. There is little being done to foster the participation of cultures by way of their differences. We cannot depend on institutions to promote intercultural unity. Business can achieve more in less time. The role of cultural centres, speaking unions is to consolidate what is internal.
No centre has in its agenda the need to learn more about the neighbour. The status quo is a dangerous state of being. It hides many volatile movements and mini revoltions. Bérenger’s idea of a Mauritian cultural centre invested with a mission to bring about unity in diversity is only conceptually attractive but in real terms quixotic and tainted with starry-eyed idealism. A cursory glance will reveal what our mind has the habit of witnessing. One example of this social phenomenon is conversion. At one time we thought that it can take place only outside our world. When a poor relative converted herself, you still said: “This happens to the poor.” When salespersons of religion knocked at your door and told you that there are Hindu judges who have been converted, you were shocked to realise that far from being the religion of the poor, it was like a disease that spares none. There are more than 100,000 Mauritians who belong to Assembly of God and there are many former Hindus among those.
Unity in diversity is not a slogan. It is a way of life. No one has explained what it means and every leader makes his own picture of this mission and projects it upon his environment. It is like a hat which everyone can wear.
Mauritius has a bright record of peaceful harmony. We must consolidate the foundations of a future Mauritian on known, recognizable and comprehensible meanings of nationhood .We cannot be happy with the semblance of peace and harmony , the rhetoric exhorting us to believe in the existential concreteness of a united nation.Too often we dissimulate sinister intentions behind this facade.
Found a typo in the article? Vous avez trouvé une faute de frappe dans l’article? Click here.
More in Blog
Le Matinal E-Paper
Le Matinal on the Web
The keywords below represent the current searches people are performing on major search engines like Google/Yahoo, and eventually landing on our website. Click to refresh.