The ceremony marking the commemoration of the 183rd anniversary of the abolition of slavery took place at Pointe Canon, Mahebourg, on Thursday 1st February. Several dignitaries of the country participated in a wreath laying cermony, in particular the Ministers Pradeep Roopun, Eddy Boissezon, Etienne Sinatambou and Stephan Toussaint. Also present for the occasion, Jean-François Chaumière, president of the Nelson Mandela Center and Arnaud Carpooran, president of the Creole Speaking Union.
According to Minister Roopun, the Slave Monument at Mahebourg remains a symbolic place during activities within the Abolition of Slavery, even if it is Le Morne mountain, which is on the list of the World Heritage of Humanity of Unesco. During his speech at the ceremony, the Deputy Prime Minister Ivan Collendavelloo gave a warning to civil servants. “The State will not hesitate to crack down on any official who violates the basic rights of citizens,” he said.
He highlighted that the struggle of our ancestors was a revolt against the trampling of their rights and that the State would not allow a repetition of history. On the other hand, Ivan Collendavelloo confirmed that the military hospital will be converted into a museum for slavery.
Also present at Pointe Canon on Thursday were some politicians. Members of the MMM also proceeded to a wreath laying ceremony at the Slave Monument. “Many people do not know that there was a first independence of Mauritius by the slave owners. We will also celebrate the 50th anniversary of our country's independence this year. It's like a lesson in history,” said the leader of the MMM Paul Bérenger.
On the other hand, the leader of the Labour Party Navin Ramgoolam stated that he is pleased that Le Morne has been classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. “People do not know the history of the country, for example what happened at Pointe Canon, where we proceed to a wreath laying. Nor do they know the suffering that the slaves had endured. I am proud that it is my Government which has set Le Morne as a heritage site,” he uttered.
Moreover, a mass was carried out in memory of the slaves at the Cassis church on Thursday. In his homily, Father Alain Romaine appealed to the Government to convert the former military hospital into an intercontinental museum of slavery to honour the memory of slaves. “We have to stay connected with our past,” said Father Alain Romaine. He also highlighted the contribution of Roger Brain who “triggered the awakening of Creole consciousness 25 years ago in the Church and society.”
The Mass was attended by several personalities, including President of the Republic Ameenah Gurib-Fakim, Vice President Barlen Vyapoory, Deputy Prime Minister Ivan Collendavelloo, and former Presidents Karl Offman and Cassam Uteem.
However the Prime Minister Pravind Juganuth was absent from the two events due to illness. According to one of his advisors, the PM contracted a virus while on mission in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, for the African Union summit. When he got back to Mauritius, he was diagnosed with an infection. The Head of Government was also absent from the official Thaipoosam Cavadee celebrations at Kovil Kaylasson in St. Croix on Wednesday.