The euphoria of the Indian Ocean Islands Games was ever present during the last week. Ever since the games torch was lit, until put off, and even at the grand festival at Champ de Mars on Monday 29 July decreed as public holiday, the same vibrant voice: Tilé lellé Tilé lellé, Allé Moris resonated at every street corner. The games have augured a new era of hope as a nation to reckon with.
For a while we all put aside our differences. We all took off our political, religious and communal gowns. We draped ourselves in the colour of the nation with the proud display of the national flag. We braved the elements to rally behind our athletes and players, our organisers, our artists and all those toiling out of the spotlight. We rallied behind “krouink”, the games mascot. No wonder we reaped the greatest number of medals propelling us on top of the table. The first ever win in the island games with 92 gold medals on a total of 224 reaped. And when the gold narrowly slipped off the hands of our national football team as a result of one penalty goal after an extended goalless match, we all had the same ill-feeling, the same heartbreak and the same kind of tears rolling off our eyes – tears of common defeat, tears of common disappointment, so intense was the communion. We lived a moment in a sort of fantasy land.
The games are over now. Back to reality, it’s time to reflect on what they brought along. More than the medals, they instilled in us a new warmth, a new mindset and a new hope. They taught us a number of lessons. One important lesson worthy of note: a medal is earned… at the expense of hard work. It is not obtained by mere favours. We’ve seen our athletes at work. We know what it means to be in the spotlight. We have lived a moment, consciously or otherwise, with yet another lesson perhaps the most important one: a Mauritian nation is not utopic. If we want, we can. We have demonstrated it so beautifully during the last ten days. We have been struggling for it for more than five decades now from independence. All we need is follow our national instincts.
The island games seem to have galvanized the people and catalyzed the momentum towards our true national identity as Mauritians. This is the undisputed kind of feeling we all had from the bottom of our heart. Whatever the colour of our skin or our communal instincts, we displayed an exceptional sense of discipline, respect and fair play despite the vicissitudes of an event of such stature. We demonstrated with pride that if there’s one thing that is inalterable it’s the colour of our blood – the colour of communion, the colour of unity, the colour of oneness that has the potential of boosting the spirit of nationhood.
So let’s keep the same blood flowing in our veins while we face daunting challenges ahead. Let’s be the architects in the meaningful realization and maintenance of a true Mauritian nation, not one where we would perpetually be perceived as egotistical and indulging in the quest of egoistic ill-gotten favours; and certainly not one where we would be constantly at daggers drawn for petty politics and communal bias. The games torch is off now, but it has lit another torch – the torch of national pride. Let’s keep the flame alive. Bravo Moris!
Note: This article from the author appeared in This Week News Mauritius on Jul. 29, 2019