Minister for Rodrigues

The celebration of its first thirty years of existence is a major event in the life of a nation. It gives us also the opportunity to pay homage to all those men and women who had unflinching faith in the ability of the Mauritian Man to take his destiny and that of his country into his own hands.

These patriots, namely Sir S. Ramgoolam, E. Anquetil, Guy Rosemont, to name a few, had the vision, the courage and the determination to fight all odds and, in spite of the opposing forces of the day, they asserted the right of the men and women of Mauritius to be master of their own fate. History has vindicated their vision and their faith and has proved them right. The progress achieved so far, thanks to the intelligence and competence of the Mauritian people, bears witness to this fact.

The road ahead of the new nation was not without difficulties and uncertainties. At each obstacle, however, Mauritians have shown clearly that they are able to get over difficult situations without too many casualties.

In the course of these 30 years of history, Rodrigues has slowly but surely asserted itself and brought its own particular contribution to the building of the “nation arc-en-ciel”. The setting up of a Ministry for Rodrigues in 1976 by Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam was a clear recognition of the fact that Rodrigues has a specificity of its own which has to be given due consideration in the overall development of the nation. We are today at an important juncture.

The present Government under the leadership of Dr N. Ramgoolam is actively encouraging the search for appropriate structures for the island which would allow for greater participation of the Rodriguan people in decision-making. The determination of the Prime Minister to bring about reforms where necessary augurs well especially for the health and education sector and for democracy generally.

As Mauritians we can look back on the last 30 years with legitimate pride. We must also, however, have the courage to face squarely the challenges that are ahead.

In an increasingly difficult world environment, it would not be easy for Mauritius to maintain and consolidate the edge it has on the economic front. More important still is the necessity to safeguard the social harmony that is the hallmark of the Mauritian nation. For this we need to take positive action to eliminate the pockets of poverty that still exist, whether in Mauritius, Rodrigues or Agalega.

The celebration of the 30th anniversary of our independence should trigger in each and every Mauritian, whatever be his ethnic origin or island of birth, the desire to develop the right mindset which will allow him to accept positively that which makes the other different from him and enrich himself in the process. It is the only way to build the nation arc-en-ciel and I am convinced that we all have the ability and determination to do so.

Long live the Republic of Mauritius.

Benoit Jolicoeur