xer-files
Monday, May 29, 2006
  Freedom Next Time
** Chagossian society continued to grow with the arrival of indentured labourers from India in the mid-19th century. By the 20th century they had developed a distinct language that was a lilting variation of French Creole. There were now three copra factories, supplying the coconut oil that lit street lamps in London, and a coaling station for ships en route to and from Australia; by the 1960s, there were plans for tourism. The workers received a small wage or payment in kind with commodities such as rice, oil and milk. They supplemented this by fishing in the abundantly stocked coastal waters, growing tomatoes, chilli, pumpkins and aubergines, and rearing chicken and ducks. As if celebrating a perfect vision of empire in such a place, a Colonial Office film from the 1950s describes the population as "born and brought up ... in conditions most tranquil and benign". The camera pans across a laughing woman hanging out clothes to dry in a coconut grove while her children play around her. This is Charlesia Alexis.

I met Charlesia recently, 50 years after she was filmed. She was sitting in the shade of her small, sparsely furnished house on the edge of Port Louis, the capital of Mauritius, more than 1,000 miles from her home. I asked her for her fondest memories of Diego Garcia. "Oh, everything!" she replied. "The sense of wellbeing is my fondest souvenir. My family could eat and drink what they liked; we never lacked for anything; we never bought anything, except clothes. Can you imagine that?"

"Why did you leave?" **

John Pilger in The Guardian

 
Comments: Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]



Links to this post:

Create a Link



<< Home
You know Stone's 'Hidden History of the Korean War'?

My Photo
Name:
Location: Netherlands
Archives
February 2005 / March 2005 / April 2005 / May 2005 / June 2005 / July 2005 / August 2005 / September 2005 / October 2005 / November 2005 / December 2005 / January 2006 / February 2006 / March 2006 / April 2006 / May 2006 / June 2006 / July 2006 / August 2006 / September 2006 / October 2006 / November 2006 / December 2006 / January 2007 / February 2007 / March 2007 / April 2007 / May 2007 / June 2007 / July 2007 / August 2007 / September 2007 / October 2007 / November 2007 / December 2007 / January 2008 / February 2008 / March 2008 / May 2008 / June 2008 / July 2008 / October 2008 / December 2008 / January 2009 / February 2009 / March 2009 / April 2009 / May 2009 / June 2009 /