126th Ambedkar jayanti

“About 126 kilo-litres of milk will be used to consecrate a statue of Ambedkar, and this invariably comes with pandits chanting mantras. The urine and dung of the cow, along with milk and curd, are among the things used to purify the Untouchable Ambedkar in Bhilwada – this is exactly what the Brahmins in Mahad did to ‘purify’ the temple tank after Ambedkar and his 3,000 followers drank water from it in 1927.” Read the article here or here.

A man in a white shirt pouring something white from a bucket labelled ‘exterior paint’ over the head of Babasaheb Ambedkar’s statue. The white stuff is in fact milk.

My 126th post

Fitting that it is, seeing it is the 126th Ambedkar Jayanthi (Dr B R Ambedkar‘s birth anniversary, still is in my time zone). Babasaheb (as he’s affectionately called) fought for liberation from casteism as well as women empowerment, is this why people don’t care about him in Mauritius? Meanwhile, they care about Indians who shouldn’t matter, all the time.

I was posting recipes in advance for those who will but did not celebrate NY today bc of the death anniversary of Jesus. People who will not be centred in this country (a Hindu majority country where most of them are oppressed regardless of religion) and thus I feel I should delay my wishes generally. A Tamil Catholic nun was wishing me for Puthandu and she did not feel so… but I do. Everything one would see and hear about today centers Tamil Hindus, that it means this, that it is celebrated this way, at Mahatma Gandhi something, that there is x, y, z concerts but there is unity no competition between groups. They make it seem like Catholics and Muslims are no longer Tamil.

Indeed they try define what or who is Tamil. Yesterday someone known here, deplored that Anjalay’s child is not with us to celebrate, yet (I thought to myself) the daughter Anjalay had raised has been cast away and forgotten until the latter was aged 72 and had lived in misery. This year she would be aged 82 and I don’t know if Lachmee (in French) is still here, she’s been erased and forgotten during the last decade too, she has probably still been living in misery after toiling on a plantation. Forgotten because she didn’t get education? And who, among Tamil women, did not get an education? Dalit-Bahujan, working class, and I guess disabled women. Then some men like the Coopen who never actually gave his name to Anjalay Soondrum Pavattan but his name is now everywhere incl. on wikipedia, to bring him glory he never earned.

That aside, am I being extreme? Well, what about what happened before this week, for which we are yet to hear an apology? Tengur is from a different culture, sure, but probably Savarna too? While Christian Tamil/Telegu/Biharis are not, largely and these issues then affect them?

Once, a Savarna asked me, as if they despise that fact, why so many local Tamils have Christian first names. Sometimes it’s as if these Savarnas never interact with anyone else. Like Dr. Ambedkar, conversion was a path to dignity for them, even if they didn’t see it that way. In Mauritius, conversion has tended to be to Christianity – Catholics with Christian names and others keep their names. And there is no major division within families (this is an island, the extended family interact a lot), except if celebrations are Hindu (Hindu-centric), Christians (the minority) can’t or won’t go. I guess within Catholicism, there are also no barriers between Dalit-Bahujan and mixed-race Black Mauritians whether part-Indian or Malagasy or something*, though those Black folks go to Hindu stuff. I’m leaving out other Black folks bc there is anti-Blackness even in the new generation of these groups. It is systemic. Then there are popular hoteps (Black men in particular) addressing that, but who are pro-Hindu and anti-Catholic.

To end on a hopeful note (wrt casteism): Free books and PDFs

Best wishes for Pohela Boishakh, Vaishak (celebrated by oppressed immigrant workers here, many celebrate easter too). It is also Vaisakhi. Thingyan, Chol Chnam Thmey, Pi Mai Lao, Aluth Avurudhu, Pana Sankranti or Bisu are not relevant here, Alathu Aharudhuvas, Songkran maybe are. Vishu is more likely to be celebrated, there has been a community here since generations although I have yet to know of anyone, or hear of any official stuff or see anything on national TV in Malayali. My gran always mentioned some only by ethnic name, and as if they are Bania, well, jewellers.

*Many part-white mixed race and they don’t have to be white-passing are classist towards all the groups I mention, and hang out among themselves, with white people or with Savarna. So while others may often claim white partness bc of rainbowism and pro-whiteness, they also frown upon the whiter mixed-race Creole folks… who stay away out of classism more than colourism maybe. ‘Gran nom’ as one Black friend says, and one of those gran misie may have suffered from colourism, who knows, but aside from his gran nom (big name & I still don’t know which ones they are) and authoritarian/arrogant disposition that would’ve protected him, he was proud of his mother’s lightness. His father would’ve been dark-skinned and rich.

M for Moris

I’ve decided to always use the word as above, in Morissian Creole (Kreol Morisyen), unless I am talking about the Mauritian state with its oppressiveness (of Rodrigues and Agalega too) and its pro-colonial ties.

I was once deciding upon using the first name it was given by Arab sailors, a century before the Dutch even found the island (and perpetrated the first of 3 or 4 colonisations). It would require new adjectives and there is a confusion on which was called Dina Arobi and which was Dina Mozare. It is also claimed the island was visited, but not settled, by early Malay mariners, as well as Phoenicians before them.

arabwreckinscription

Encyclopedia Mauritiana claims that this inscription is Arabic.

I’m writing this since a month or so and came across various things while doing so. h/t Zoulou Madsen Leblanc for screenshots of occasional pages of books that I would otherwise have no access to.

A page from ‘Island of the Swan’, Michael Malim, 1953

These seas were a place to be avoided by sailors because of the risk of tropical storms. So by chance, the Arabs located Dina Arobi, Dina Mozare and Dina Margabin, collectively called Tirakka, on this side of the Indian Ocean, that arab sailors called Waqwaq.

“A poor people who live in and around the hills and in caves, mostly tributaries of the local kings or of the Arabs. These peoples (according to  African authors) originally came from Phoenicia, and were called Moors or Morophoros; they were thrown out of the the land of Joshua, son of Nau, who lived with the Egyptians, passing to Libya and afterward founding the famous city of Carthage, 1278 years before the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ, who was 3929 years after the creation of our world. And according to Ibni Al Raquiq, for many years they lived in this city, a great stone city with a fountain, saying: ‘We are the people who fled the presence of the thief of Joshua, son of Nau.’ When these people came to Africa, they had already ruled it, Asclepios and Heracles, and also ruled Spain, 1693 years before Christ. After that, Carthage being destroyed for the first time, before Dido re-established it, some of these peoples passed through western Berberia, with Annone, their captain. They established the Libyan cities, Phoenician cities, where they lived when the Romans came to Africa, calling it Mauretania, named for the valley dwellers called Maurophoros.”  –  Luis del Marmol Caravajal, Granada, 1573

“Recently the Omani Foreign Minister claimed to have evidence that Mauritius in fact formed part of their kingdom in the 15th century and as such was occupied by them.”

Isn’t it about time we honour at least the Moors or Morophoros and consider the name of the island to be doing so instead of being a remberance of the Dutch royalty?

The latter and the whole patriotic attitude of oblivion towards Chagos indicate that we never got independence, our minds never did. We are not in any way decolonised. While we are supposedly advocating for the decolonisation of Chagos, this ‘Independence Day’ should have indicated that, in sobriety/mourning.

“Last year I had a little chat with Lisette Talate [Chagossian woman and decolonisation activist]; she said to me “when the cannons are heard and the flag raised, it is as if my heart is being stabbed with a knife. For you it is a celebration, for me it is mourning”. Today when we sing our national anthem, think of those who have been sacrificed on the altar. We are commemorating not only our independence but also their deportation.” — Patrick L Marie, 2012. via D. Bruno Duval.

“Lannee derniere mo ti gagn enn ti dialog ek Lisette Talate, li dir moi “kan sa bann kanon la resonner ek sa drapo la leve li koumadir enn bann cout couto dan mo leker. Pou zot li enn fet pou moi li enn lenterrement” Zordi kan nou sant motherland pense bann ki inn sakrifier lor lotel. Zordi enn zour comemoration, mais pa selman nou lindependence mais aussi zot deportation.” Patrick L. Marie, via D Bruno Duval

Coincidentally, even Morissian artists are boycotting the Independence Day Celebrations which is usually the only day they get employed or remunerated by the State. It doesn’t even have proper copyright laws in place locally and artists have been arrested last year for protesting the fact that piracy is essentially fine, done in the open and institutionally permitted. The hawker gets the money for selling their music and they obviously get nothing.

We ought to remember Rodrigues, Agalega and Chagossians every time we want to be patriotically proud, or relevant. So we must recall their lack of autonomy, the growing lack of autonomy with Agalega reportedly being quietly sold to India just like Chagos was sold/excised for Mauritian independence. Just like Benjamin Zephaniah and others are advocating alongside Chagossians, we should have a vast solidarity movement that does not solely consist of Mauritians signing petitions or debating for their political gain.

 

Violence in Chennai

Kot solidarite bann bel madras ki envi fer Jallikattu moris, zordi?* Ek bann ki ti kont, if applicable. It didn’t seem there are anyone here against, I think they are going to hear it from me. I have a saved draft since days…
 
I would not have even known this was going on if not for (misleading seeming) Indian channels or Tamil friends or folks on social media from other continents. [*translation] I’m just wondering, where is the solidarity from those here who feel so much Tamil pride that I saw announcements saying Jallikattu will start in Mauritius?


Meena further writes [if you don’t want to click FB] “by the state.

Poor slum people are becoming the target. Police themselves are burning their vehicles. They also have orders to open fire.
Please do your best to stop this police brutality”

Political shenanigans

I wondered if there was a reason idk as to why Rezistans ek Alternativ seems to have appropriated Lalit colours (for some psychological effect?) for their hysteria facebook campaign but no http://www.lalitmauritius.org/en/newsarticle/1924/lalit-on-resignation-of-prime-minister-and-the-probable-nomination-of-pravind-jugnauth/

I’m not surprised as well. There has been so much talk around this that one can blame the Mauritian president perhaps and for the new ministry creation. Then again, the new ministry concerns Chagos too, so we all want the outgoing/former 86-year old PM (head of state) to keep working on that issue. Well, Olivier Bancoult himself would be best (is that in the plans concerning UN procedures on Chagos?) but negotiations had taken place with the both of them. All I’m seeing forwarded/reshared virally, is la mare pe mok la bou, as we say in Kreol. In-depth change cannot not brought about through mass hysteria.

However, this country does not like in-depth change…

Lastly, I didn’t miss the appropriation of the appropriation of fallism. By what is, according to Mauritianist failed-logic, the supporters of the next PM on Shakeel Mohammed’s post. Some went #PravindMustFall like white South Africans and supporters were all #ZumaMustFall – a clear indication of who isn’t against the neo-colonialism but only wants to benefit from it, as much as the present government.

USian Women’s March

And I saw a post about the shallowness of intersectionality because some were upset at vegan signs at the march (somewhere). This was already White Feminism Inc., do not realise that and add veganism to it, brilliant.

Fuck vegans, seriously, unless you’re a regular reader [you’re all geographically far]. No vegan I know, have met, or am friends with actually reads here. They only use me, want me to admin their groups and teach them to be intersectional or help them along like they are little puppies. They think my brain isn’t sharp enough to figure out they’re trying to use me, yet theirs can’t debate me. Mauritians would be like ‘I can’t debate, I’m more of a science person’. Science, that thing that needs logic and they have none. Please, take this personally if you’re a Mauritian reading this. In all likelihood, your friend or you’ve made a hundred dozen ad-hominems and broadcast private details about my disabilities while doing so. Then there are hyperacademic wankers I can’t debate with, elsewhere. I’m about using plain language and lived experience, not wankery and white dudes I have never read.

belated wishes

Belated Pongal, Lohri, and makar Sankranthi wishes! Belated happy 2017 as well/ to the rest of you.

A rangoli for sankranthi

Makar Sankranthi marks the transition of the sun into the zodiacal sign of Makara (Capricorn).

A kolam or rangoli is traditionally and regularly made as food for the ants, and it is a means of keeping ants away from the house, it is said. ‘Pongal’ means overflow… it is understood as nature giving back when you give to nature. We’re debatably part of nature but we mostly exploit it.

Except for sankranthi, if raita and ghee was ommitted, the festivals also involve cooking with milk. Pongalwise, this is how they represent the ‘overflow’ and chant when the milk overflows. Now what we remain unaware of is: “on the third day of Pongal, people abstain from consuming any milk or milk products to show their respect in appreciation of how much help cattle are to them through the process of farming.” why not do it daily? and originally “The festival was celebrated as Thai Niradal. During the period, unmarried girls prayed for agricultural prosperity of the country and for the purpose, they observed penance during the Tamil month of Margazhi, corresponding (December-January). All through the month, they abstained themselves from the consumption of milk and milk products. etc. etc.” more at http://festivals.iloveindia.com/pongal/history.html…

Why only observe this as penance and not the moral thing to do? Is it respect if it is conditional and self-serving? But ok this was near the Sangam era, whereas it is 2017 and in the diaspora we are no longer aware of the dairy abstention day. I told a few of my relatives about it and I can see clueless as usual Hindu Tamil vegans.

Furthermore it is the height of summer and people of that grouping will consume dairy more than usual in the name of fasting, while cows are left dying of thirst (actually dying, ok) and it is not the first summer these crimes (on top of habitual crimes) happen. Some never learn, evolve or change. Or revolve. Nothing corresponds to the harvest festival here, neither the season nor the customs in households. At least the dairy abstention would have been a good step.

However when one can’t respect cows, there is always the option of publishing some BS to claim they do respect them