Foreigner and not to belong

‘Always a foreigner’ was the words uttered to me by Nargis and her sister Nazlee yesterday. Both of them are now residents in London UK and may be British citizens for all intent & purposes. Yet, much like nomads they seem to belong to no land. Both sisters were born in Lamu near Mombassa Kenya of parents who themselves children of migrants from Kutch, Gujarat, India. Their family names were “Panju” which indicated their origin. Their forefathers were probably moved to Kenya under economic and social compulsion earlier in the last century. Even from Kutch where they were supposed to have come from they cannot find any trace of origin nor of identity. No parents, relatives and ties were to be found in Kutch. For the memories of the family, they only knew that they originated from there, which is confirmed by the language they spoke. Are they condemned to be without family identity source and to be foreigner where ever they go?

In India, even now they feel themselves to be a foreigner. Having lived in the United Kingdom for over 30 years they are definitely not in their homeland: the habits, accents and language are so much different.

Even in London were they live they are foreigners. Pakis or Indians they would be called.

Forced migration got them to move from their country of birth and where they grew up. Foreigners again they were in East Africa.

They just do not belong!

Funnily enough, “Always a foreigner” could answer some aspects to the discussions of Eddy Young’s blog set aflame with much passion since the start of the year under the title: What does it mean to be a Mauritian. “Where do we belong?” would be a more appropriate question. I believe that it is not the document or citizenship document that makes you a Mauritian: at heart where do you belong?

Would a Chinese, African, French or Indian at heart living in Mauritius be a Mauritian? No, they will always be a foreigner! Only those who “belong”, those who accept, cherish and espouse our beloved country and continue to work for its future are worthy to be called Mauritians.

Mind you, I am not in favor of the melting pot analogy to describe the Mauritian society. I prefer the Fruit Salad analogy where each fruit whilst being still distinct enhances the flavors the salad which by the way, may well contain in its self some of the jam made up of the combination of the different fruits.

I like to think that in Mauritius I am no foreigner! Because I belong.