Dr. Roukaya Kasenally
Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellow
International Forum for Democratic Studies
The island of Mauritius is perhaps best known as Mark Twain’s model for paradise (Following the Equator, 1897) and as the land of the long extinct dodo. Despite its small size and lack of natural resources, Mauritius has become the “star and key of the Indian Ocean,” touting excellent economic and democratic credentials since achieving independence in 1968.
Unfortunately, the “star” is now losing some of its lustre, as Mauritius shows increasing signs of democratic stagnation, including the rise of ethnic and dynastic politics, the advent of political cronyism and patronage, and growing disenchantment and cynicism among Mauritian citizens towards the political class. In her presentation,
Mauritian scholar and democracy activist Dr. Roukaya Kasenally examined the “picture-perfect model” of Mauritius and demonstrated the need to go beyond the numerical indicators that have consistently placed the small island as the best performer in Africa.
Dr. Roukaya Kasenally is senior lecturer in media and political systems at the University of Mauritius. She is also co-founder and president of the Institute of Social Development and Peace, a think tank that has been influential in promoting dialogue and debate on the issues of human security, electoral reform, and poverty eradication in southern Africa. A consultant on electoral and media processes in southern Africa, Dr. Kasenally has authored numerous articles and co-edited several books, including Media and Democracy in an Age of Transition (2005) and Rights and Development in Mauritius – A Reader (2007). She is a member of several local media commissions, as well as the Indian Ocean Islands representative for the Organization of Social Science Research in Southern and Eastern Africa (OSSREA).