Roland Florent’s Speech during the Jubilee Dinner Dance
I thank you Marie-Rose for what you said about me; I hope I will prove myself deserving of your kind words.
15 years ago when, to celebrate the club’s 35th anniversary, your committee asked me if I would write the story of the Stella Clavisque, I was hesitant. Since my retirement over those 22 years, it has been a pleasure to contribute articles to the Newsletter, but when the committee entrusted me again with writing another booklet to celebrate their 50th anniversary, I was honoured but very uneasy, and not confident I could rise up to the occasion.
Reading the club’s newsletters of the last 15 years, I am more than ever convinced of the commitment to our welfare not only of the club committees but of many ordinary members (who will forgive me if I have failed in my booklet to mention their names).
Many of us came here with barely a word of English but soon realized the opportunities Australia offered. They were self-reliant, prepared to work hard to get somewhere, to share Australian values, to engage in the community; they were convinced their best days lay ahead, ambition drove them to take risks in the expectation of rewards, they never received a handout and never needed any.
I was pleasantly surprised by the wealth of activities the club had engaged in, the help it had been to many members and non-members, both here and in Mauritius, the comfort it had provided to those who thought of themselves as uprooted, who were disorientated, bewildered, and found in the club, at least occasionally, much of the warm atmosphere they had left behind. As I say in my booklet, their memories will ever be tethered to the land they left behind, their warm island in the sun, the land of whispering sugarcane fields, of the coloured earths of Chamarel, l’ile Maurice des flamboyants, des segas, des sirandanes, des pailles en queues, de la langue creole que nous parlons tous.
Today is the time to give thought, first to the two pioneers, the one who conceived the idea of the club, Jean Commins, and the one who nursed it and guided its first faltering steps, Karl Bozelle; but equally to all who served selflessly, members of committees past and present who, though depressed at times at their efforts being repaid with apathy, laboured on; and let us not overlook all those who worked silently in the background, as well as members and non-members who by their presence supported the functions and activities of the club; those who share the best, but only the best, of Australian ideals: ideals of democracy, mateship, tolerance, compassion, freedom…freedom, which, as Emmanuel Macron says, is a call to think and love. . It is to all these people, to you that my modest booklet is dedicated.
Let’s celebrate the golden Jubilee of the Stella Clavisque to which many perhaps all of us owe it that we are happy Mauritian Australians, or just happy Australians.