Mauritius: Chagos-Born Marie Olivia Lernette Celebrates 100th Birthday

press release

The Republic of Mauritius has now registered its 185th centenarian, namely Ms Marie Olivia Lernette, born on l'Ile du Sud-Est, Sise Iles, in Chagos, and who celebrated this morning her 100th birthday at her residence, in Roche Bois. Ms Lernette, who is bedridden, dedicates her longevity to her faith in God.

A ceremony was organised by the Ministry of Social Integration, Social Security and National Solidarity to honour the new centenarian.

The Vice-Prime Minister, Minister of Local Government and Disaster Risk Management, Dr Mohammad Anwar Husnoo, the Minister of Social Integration, Social Security and National Solidarity, Mrs Fazila Jeewa-Daureeawoo, the Parliamentary Private Secretary, Mr Muhammad Ismaël Rawoo, the leader of the Chagos Refugee Group, Mr Louis Olivier Bancoult, the Lord Mayor of the Municipal City Council of Port Louis, and the close relatives of Ms Lernette, were present at the event.

In her address, Minister Jeewa-Daureeawoo qualified the celebrations as special given that Ms Lernette is born in the Chagos. She thus highlighted the Chagos Archipelago sovereignty issue and emphasised that the islands are of prime importance for the Republic of Mauritius.

The Minister recalled that late Sir Anerood Jugnauth, former Prime Minister and President of the Republic of Mauritius, had fought a last battle to win back the Chagos Archipelago, and now the Prime Minister, Mr Pravind Kumar Jugnauth, has taken the relay.

Mrs Jeewa-Daureeawoo also stated that it is heart-warming to celebrate the birthday of a centenarian and she expressed the wish for Ms Lernette to remain healthy and live longer to witness the success of Mauritius winning the Chagos back.

Both Vice-Prime Minister Husnoo and Mr Rawoo, joined Minister Jeewa-Daureeawoo, in extending their wishes to Ms Lernette on the occasion. They also reassured that Government will, alongside with the Chagossian community, continue its fight with regards to the Chagos Archipelago issue.

For his part, Mr Bancoult, gave a brief history of the life of Ms Lernette, also known as 'tantine' Olive, and who came to live in Mauritius in 1966 in the interval of deportation. Her family members comprised five brothers and one sister.

Mr Bancoult spoke of his pride that within the Chagossian community, Ms Lernette becomes the second centenarian whose birthday is being celebrated, alongside a Chagossian whose 104th birthday will be celebrated on 18 September this year. The dean of the Chagossian community had lived till 112 years and was the dean of both the Republic of Mauritius and that of the Indian Ocean, he remarked. This is an honour to celebrate the 100th birthday of yet another Chagossian which clearly shows how life was simple and beautiful on Chagos with food free of pesticides, fresh food from the sea, and vegetables which can all be attributed to the longevity of Ms Lernette, he added.

The new centenarian was gifted a cheque amounting Rs 21,836; a bouquet; a centenarian medal; one certificate; and one microwave oven, by the authorities.

Latest statistics from the Welfare and Elderly Persons' Protection Unit, Ministry of Social Integration, Social Security and National Solidarity, show that Mauritius has recorded, to date, a total of 174 centenarians (27 male and 147 female) while Rodrigues accounts for a total of 11 (three male and 8 female). They all benefit from a monthly pension worth Rs 21,710 from the government.

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