When Mauritius obtained its independence on 12 March 1968, after a moment of brief unrest and ethnic conflicts following the August 1967 elections where the Labour party obtained a majority allowing it to claim unleashment from British rule, its population didn’t believe it’d build itself into a nation where Information Technology would play a dominant role in its development. The establishment of a cybercity at Ebene, formerly a fertile sugar-cane plantation domain near Rose Hill in the central part of the country, is a vivid testimony of the extent of this evolution.
The country has forged ahead; it has gained an identity. Over the years after liberation from the colonial rule it has transformed itself from a monoculture sugar-based economy into a diversified manufacturing, financial and tourist base. This gives enough ground for its people to be proud of their 720-square-mile-island reigning as a pearl in the Indian Ocean.
“Nou pays nou fierté!” – meaning “our country, our pride.”
That was the theme of the double anniversary celebrations, the 39th year of independence and the 15th republic day of Mauritius this year. It was marked by a flag raising ceremony at the Caudan water front in Port Louis on 12 March 2007. The President of the Malagasy Republic was the chief guest and the function was held in the presence of the Mauritian Premier, President, ministers, parliamentarians, religious dignitaries and other VIPs.
Tens of thousands of folks, each with a red-blue-yellow-green apparel representing the national flag, from diverse cultural and religious backgrounds, had gathered in the early hours after mid-day “as one people, as one nation” along the Port Louis trunk road. They couldn’t afford to miss the show, or they’ll have to wait another year. For those who couldn’t make it to Port Louis, the show was broadcast live on TV and the radio channels. It’s in such moment that people realize, and with reason, how “sweet is thy beauty, sweet is thy fragrance” makes it all for their “motherland”.
The regimental parade and other occupational and sports groups, the fire services, first aid, women police displayed along the 2-kilometre-barred-road, amidst a cultural show in the pure Mauritian tradition of peace, justice and liberty.
The flag was raised at 6.00 pm local time (14.00UT). The mob stayed fidgeted under the half-shrouded sky dimming the sun, with a breeze enough to blow the scarfs; their eyes riveted on the mast as the four-coloured flag moved up inch by inch at the rhythm of Glory to thee motherland…The flag swayed at the top of the mast as the national anthem, full of patriotic inspiration, ended with …Beloved country, may God bless thee for ever and ever.
But the celebrations didn’t end here. Guest singers and artists kept the show going with local sega, European, bhojpuri and Indian songs in the typical Mauritian folklore. The beats of the guitars, batteries, harmoniums, tablas, the singers’ melodious voices and the curly twisting bodies pitched higher and higher as the night crept in. The street lights oozed in the dusky air as the sun plunged down the horizon.
It was nearly mid-night when everything came to a standstill. That is how we celebrated Independence and Republic day this year.