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re: Def. of Hakka 3 - Indian & Mauritian Hakka
The differences in opinion between Mr. Kit Hau and Mr. Kuo Liao
can be explained by the different culture each comes from.
A characteristic of the Hakka is the ability to adapt and survive in
the strangest of places. Both the Indian Hakka and the Mauritian
Hakka were isolated Hakka communities surrounded by vast numbers
of non-Hakka but they have used very different strategies to remain
a cohesive people.
The Indian Hakka have retained their language and many of their
old beliefs. They are more hierarchical and rigid in structure and
strong believers in tradition. They tended to cluster in groups
of their own people and remained highly (relativly) conservative, and
have thus retained their identity amidst a sea of non-Chinese.
The Mauritian Hakka are the almost the opposite. Few in number,
and scattered throughout the country for economic reasons, they
are a dynamic people, who survived and prospered, and are now
spread across North America and Europe. As well, Mr. Kit Hau is
correct in saying that the Hakka (2% of the population) do well
academically. They have retained the Hakka tradition of academic
excellence from their Moyen (Mexian) roots and dominate Mauritius
scholastically and are also rapidly growing in economic strength.
Mauritius has proved to be a strong identity for them and is to them,
as Hong Kong is to the Cantonese. Thus just as you find people
from Hong Kong who say, "I am Hong Kong'ese first", you now have
Hakka who say "I am Mauritian first". Indian Hakka have no such base
and thus must rely completely on their Hakka heritage for identity.
But I am slightly critical of what these 'I am Mauritian' people say
and what they do. In Mauritius, many do not pay much attention
to their Hakka heritage as it is simply another 'fact'. But while they
say this and appear to 'integrate' with the natives, most generally
keep their 'true' close social circle almost completely Chinese
(Hakka)! As well, the so-called 'Mauritian' (NOT sino-Mauritian)
societies and clubs scattered around North America are composed
almost entirely of Hakka Chinese, which is interesting considering
that 98% of Mauritians are NOT Hakka. I mean, it would be
unthinkable to have an Indian club/society composed of 95%
Hakka Chinese and 5% Hindu/Muslim. Many Mauritians do not
conciously care about their Hakka identity because they take it for
granted without even having to think about it! They take for granted
what the Indian hakka conciously work hard to preserve.
But the Mauritius solution works well in Mauritius, with 2% of the
population wielding influence far beyond their numbers - integrating
into the local population, without truly integrating. Where
it falls down is mainly with the Mauritians/Hakka living overseas.
Without a strong, defined identity, what was once merely a symbolic
'integration' can actually become true integration and the Hakka
identity is then truly lost forever, especially among the younger
generation. Another danger is that with Cantonese money now
flowing into Mauritius, such an undefined identity can crumble in the
face of a stronger one. Or perhaps the currently confident
Hakka/Mauritian identity will wither as the people are westernised.
So now that some measure of economic sucess has been achieved,
perhaps the strategy of the Mauritian Hakka should move closer to
that of their conservative Indian cousins and to 'remind' themselves of
their Hakka history and original identity.
ps. A clarrification to that the Hakka countrymen in Canada are
"the most educated and Westernised of Mauritians." I will agree
that many Mauritian Canadians are very westernised but
am unsure about them being the "most educated". Now, many of
the brightest are now going back home. As well, there are a
growing number of weaker Mauritian students who can afford to look
for easy Univerity programs much like many Hong Kong Chinese used
to do (good way to avoid those A levels as well).
On Mar 17, 1997 08:54:48, 'email@example.com' wrote:
>>From firstname.lastname@example.org Sat Mar 15 09:26:20 1997
>From: kit hau <email@example.com>
>Subject: Def. of Hakka 3
>With regard to Mr. Kuo Liao's recent message (March 10), I would first
>like to thank him for his response to my last letter. However, I've
>noticed a condescending attitude and an unpleasant tendency to
>(mis)judge other people from his part, probably stemming from his
>superficial and imperfect knowledge of the Hakka situation in Mauritius,
>through his experiences with a limited sample of my Hakka countrymen in
>Canada (the most educated and Westernized of Mauritians, to be sure) .
>This has prompted me to reply for the interest, I hope, of HGNetters,
>who might otherwise be misled by such preconceived notions:
>a) Mr. Kuo Liao finds it a problem (to him?) that his Mauritian Hakka or
>Hakka Mauritian friends, the younger generation at least, do not care
>about their Hakka identity. While I do not dispute this, as he must
>know his friends better than others can, the impression that one may get
>from reading his letter is that all the young Sino-Mauritians(that's how
>they are called in my country)of Hakka origin do not care as well. And
>I think that this is quite unfair to say.
>Instead, I would say rather that, the younger members of my community
>have not been made aware and fully conscious of their rich ancestral
>cultural heritage. Being part of the younger generation (I was born in
>Mauritius 32 years ago of a Chinese immigrant father and a 1st
>generation Mauritian mother), I have first-hand experience of the issue
>and I can provide one likely and short explanation to this phenomenon.
>The older generation (60 years and above)is made up of either Chinese
>immigrants from Moiyen or people born in Mauritius who had been
>instructed in the old private Chinese schools(closed down a long time
>ago) when they were children. They can hence stay in touch with their
>original culture through the printed media (newspapers, periodicals,
>books, etc.) and through personal contact with other members of the same
>generation and close relatives in China, hence their more developed
>consciousness of their Hakka roots.
>On the other hand, the younger generation has been educated almost
>exclusively in English and French in public schools since primary, for
>many reasons, one of which being economic necessity: to give you a job,
>Mauritian employers never ask for proficiency in Hakka. At school, the
>overwhelming majority of their classmates are non-Chinese, speaking
>French or Creole to them.
>At home, the kids when not studying would relax in front of the TV
>watching entirely non -Hakka programs. The parents would often be too
>busy in their shops or businesses earning their living till late to
>properly take care of the Chinese education of their offsprings.
>Moreover, all Chinese parents in Mauritius dreamed of their children
>becoming doctors, accountants, architects, etc. one day as they did not
>want to see them endure the same hardships as small shopkeepers. They
>saw to it that their children (the young generation) get all the
>attention in terms of education (Western, of course): the best schools,
>the best teachers for private tuition, etc. so that the children could
>climb up the social ladder and lead a more comfortable life later.
>Under these circumstances, it would hardly be surprising to find that
>the young Sino-Mauritians are now well integrated into the Mauritian
>mainstream culture and less conscious of their ancestral roots.
>I can say that the old generation's dream has today become reality with
>the Sino-Mauritians being collectively the country's most successful
>community be it at school or in business inspite of its tiny size (the
>Chinese make up only 2% of the population).
>So what may sound like a compliment from Mr. Kuo Liao "it's good to see
>a M'tian that does [care]" is in fact an insult to all the Mauritian
>Hakkas or Hakka Mauritians. As pointed out in my previous letter and
>quoted from Mr. Ted Chan "this has to do more with 'circumstances'
>rather than 'choice'."
>b) I'm also at a loss to find where Mr. Kuo Liao has seen that I've
>explained that the Hakka language is lost to French (or creole) and
>tried to argue how great French is. I think that he must have joined
>the debate halfway and must have therefore missed the previous
>discussions in order to make such a totally unjustified statement.
>The example of the Francophonie, which incidentally Mr. Kuo Liao belongs
>to as a Canadian national whether he is aware or not, was taken to
>illustrate how another group of comparable size organizes itself to
>protect and promote its economic interests, language & culture. My
>point was that we all have to be more open-minded, tolerant and
>welcoming especially to people in other parts of the world who live
>under different cultural and linguistic realities to ensure the survival
>of the Hakka identity as a whole in the next millenium. I see no
>scapegoat in stating this.
>Hau Kit Tat