Exiled from Paradiseby Anita Sullivan
'Exiled from Paradise' is a radio play about the people of Diego Garcia in the Chagos island chain. Since the 1745 these people lived and worked on the copra plantations of this island, in the British Indian Ocean Island Territory. They had their own clearly defined culture and community, and regarded their island not only as home but paradise.
In the 1970s they were removed from Diego by the British government to make way for a US Naval base. Since then the Diego Garcians have been living in Mauritius, many in acute poverty. In August of 2003 year a long battle to return to Diego was overturned by an Order in Council. This has banned them not only from Diego but all 64 islands in the archipelago. Subsequently, many of them have used their British passports to come to the UK and start a new life.
The play was extensively researched with the help of the Diego Garcian communities in West Sussex. I also spent time with the community in Port Louis in Mauritius and travelled back to the UK with a group as they came to resettle here.
The play was broadcast in June 2005 and is set in 2004. It was directed by Claudine Toutongi, with performances by Adjoa Andoh, Jude Akuwdike, Clarke Peters, Jane Lapotaire and Charlotte Corman. T The production also featured the voices of several key figures in the community including Allen Vincatassin.
Original music composed by Sylvio Lynx.
Winner of Race in the Media Award for Radio Drama.
Duration: 44 minutes
'EXILED FROM PARADISE' SCRIPT
[Roznay is in Mauritius: waves break softly.]
ROZNAY -Our dreams are all we have now. Of Diego Garcia. Our home. I come to this beach sometimes to remember. But is not the same, is not the same.
[An outboard motor from a boat is heard.]
ROZNAY -Diego very, very beautiful island. White sand. Like sugar. Palm trees, coconut trees, all kind of trees. Many fish in sea, bird in air. The simple life. There is no sickness. No cyclone. Everyone have job. We don't use money; all the time put your hand in your pocket like here in Mauritius. We are like one family, on Diego. Happy as fish in pond. Now I not see Serge for one year now. He say, 'Come to England, mother'. I say I am too old, but what is there for me here? What is there ever here for me? Diego is our island. Is always our island. But now I go there only in my dreams.
Since the play was broadcast, the situation has evolved. Here some up to date links.
- 'Stealing a Nation' 2004 documentary by John Pilger, gives the background to the dispute
- 'My fight for the forgotten islanders' Ben Fogel's 2011 update in The Telegraph
- Chagos islanders community activity site
- Chagos support latest updates
- Allen Vincatissin 'President in Exile'
REVIEWS OF THE PLAY
- "Simple, moving and shaming" Financial Times (Martin Hoyle)
- "Poigniant drama" The Independent (Fiona Sturges) Radio Choice
- Daily Mail Pick of the Day
- Daily Mail Best Drama of the Week
- Featured on Radio 4 'Pick of the Week'
Diego Garcia, Indian Ocean paradise
British subject Modest Alexis at home in Mauritius
Rosemay in her tin house
Diego Garcian children growing up in Mauritus have never been to the island
Steve Marie and his family outside their house
Allen Vincatassin, community leader and 'President in Exile'.
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