Page 5 - Mauritian Overseas Gazette 1
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UK Mauritians’ Gazette December 2017
The Mauritian presence in the UK
 The language of angels
Readers will have seen articles in French on Page 4. There were complaints from Mauritius News readers about such pages to the effect that those were unable to read and understand the language. We must say that French is part of our Mauritian heritage. Most Mauri- tians, probably almost all, speak French in Mauritius. It has never been heard that a Mauritian student has ever failed in French at School Certificate and GCE (OL) exams in Mauritius, while many could not secure a cer- tificate because of their poor command of English.
French is still spoken in Mauritius while the Creole language (which finds its root in French) is the language of communication among the people of Mauritius. So, we request our readers’ indul- gence for the articles in French which are as much for the first generation as for those who are studying it. I must personally admit that French is a very beautiful language, and we like listen- ing to the Parisian accent as much as that of Marseilles (Remem- ber Marcel’s Pagnol’s Marius?)
When I first came to England, so many moons ago, I was told by a beautiful young Danish au pair girl that, when she was a child, she believed that angels communicated among themselves in French. Language of Angels! L’Acadénie, prenez note), This must be the greatest tribute that can be paid to the French Language, and by whom? By an angel herself with her beautiful satin complexion, blue eyes, copper colour hair and all.
Water under the Bridge
Over the 50 years (and more) that we have been in England, so much water has passed under the bridge! So many events have taken place, in our lives, good and bad, leaving us with sweet or bitter memories. The sweet memories are probably for those who came here single and who have, over the years, built themselves happy families with children, grandchildren, in-laws etc. They left in the knowledge that they did well in their country of adoption.
Many of the first Mauritian migrants of the 1960s came with large families together with them or who joined them later from Mauri- tius. That was the period when Mauritians were coming to the UK in large numbers, by French liners (of Messageries Maritimes), via Marseille and by planes. The British Government, owing to the
continued influx of migrants from the commonwealth countries, was forced to introduce the Commonwealth Immigrants Act (CIA) in 1962, not to abolish immigration but to control it. This CIA did not stop the Mauritian migrants from pouring in. They came by special weekly charter flights, via France and Ireland. Once in the UK most of the charter flights visitors disappeared into the décor to be known as illegal immigrants without any documents, Les sans-papers, as those in France were known. They were part of the black economy, working without NIC etc.
Illegal migrants who were caught were detained and repatriated. It was very tough to be sent back home. Most Mauritians here were then economic migrants and having come perhaps on borrowed money for the trip could not face the grim situation of life at home. The country itself, prior to independence in 1968, was fac- ing serious economic crisis with an explosion of the population. For sure, those deported Mauritians would not be able to honour the debts contracted by parents. Some on the run from deportation chose to commit suicide in England. I know of one very young Mauritian, barely in his early 20s, was so depressed that he threw himself on the rail at the Mile End underground. The Police found his Mauritian passport on his body that was mutilated by the wheels of the underground train.
No Blacks
That was very tough for most compatriots who came here for a better life, at a time when rooms were heated with paraffin. Cen- tral Heating was a luxury beyond the means of most landlords who agreed to let rooms to the migrants. It must be remembered that those were the days then when notices were displayed outside many properties: No Blacks. There was no Council for Racial Equality (CRE) then.
But it must be admitted that the thousands who came as nursing students, in spite of their immediate homesickness, were better off. They had sheltered accommodation at the nurses homes with good heating, good company, some cooking their own Mauritian food, and all. Some boys used to brag about the girlfriends they made and the parties they organised. Good for them!
Factory work
Not such luck for the other Mauritian migrants who, even with A- levels had to accept factory work to start off. No office job open to them, yet. They organised themselves as best as they could. Many of the elders, after building a solid environment for their offspring in the UK, have now gone, leaving behind sad memories of their struggle to make it here. They started life here with the whole family accommodated in one single room (with a common stove on the landing for the cooking) to end up with their own
houses providing each child with his/her own room, and even a spare one for guests. By working very hard, doing even three jobs
   The three former Mauritian UK Mayors
Ralph Toofany, far left above, is a Labour councillor of Lincoln County Council since the 1980s. He was elected as the first black Mayor of Lincoln and later the first black Sheriff. He is now the Doyen of the Council having served as a councillor for over 30 years
Simon Bhadaye is a local councillor of Spelthorne, and was Mayor 10 years. During his term as Mayor he arranged for he twinning Spelthorn with Mauritius.
Conservative Councillor Dan Putty (far right above) was elected Mayor of Basingstoke in 2013. He is still serving as a Coucillor of Hatch Warren and Beggarwood of the Borough. We had the pleasure to attend his installation in office on his inauguration as Mayor.
stand out as good examples for others in the community. We can practically count them on the fingers of the two hands.
In this connection I can remember Mauritius News writing about Ralph Toofany, first Black Mayor and first black Sheriff of Lincoln still a councillor, Simon Bhadye, Mayor of Spelthorne, Dan Putty Mayor of Basingstoke, still a councillor, (It won’t surprise me they all came as nursing students to end up as senior officials in the pro- fession. For example former Mayor Simon Bhadye, who is still a local councillor, is chairman of the Ashford & St Peter’s Hospital Foundation Trust.
The elders, though, never made it in national politics to Westmin- ster. Lilette Ebrahimkhan did not secure a Conservative nomination, but selected Uma Fernandes (born Mootien) still did not make it when she stood as a Conservative candidate for Brent. However, her daughter Suella Fernandes is an MP for Fareham, Locks Heath, Park Gate, Portchester, Sarisbury, Titchfield and Warsash.
Peter Chellen
Map of Mauritius
UK-born nationals of Mauritian parentage may locate on the map the locality their parents come from. Mauritius has been called the Star and Key of the Indian Ocean, Pear shaped Island, Sugar Bowl Island
Conservative MP for Fareham Suella Fer- nandes, a lawyer by profession, addressing the House on the Brexit issue. She is a diehard Brexi- teer. On her website she says “We have been pre- sented with a golden opportunity as a country. Our withdrawal from the European Union will mean for the first time in a generation the British people, not Brussels, will control our law making,
borders and who we trade with.
a day (morning, daytime and evening) some have managed to buy more than one house. Such sacri- fice cannot be re- peated by those who follow.
The Mauritian community in the UK constitutes a minority among the other ethnic minority groups who are in very large numbers,
ike the Asians and the Afro- Caribbeans. It has not been easy for such a tiny minor- ity as ours to shine on the mainstream of British life. We are so few in num- bers that the little we achieve may

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