Act I. Indian Ocean, 1841.
Enter Pierre Passot at the helm of a ship.
Passot: What do I see? A boat approaching from yonder island. A man wishes to speak to me. Hmm, this is intriguing. I wonder what he wants.
Voice off: My name is Sultan Andriantsoly. May I come aboard?
Passot: By all means. (Aside): Let us hope this is not some dastardly trick.
Enter Andriantsoly: You are French, Sir, you have a big ship and your power is mighty. Please help me.
Passot: Help you? How so?
Andriantsoly: That island yonder is Mayotte. I am the Sultan there but I have no army and my power is weak. My enemy from the neighbouring island seeks to overthrow me. If you protect me, I will sell you Mayotte at a bargain price.
Passot: Excellent idea. Shall we say 1000 piastres?
Passot (aside): ‘Tis cheap indeed. What a stroke of luck! I will claim Mayotte in the name of France before those bastard Brits can get their hands on it. Vive la France!
Act II New York, 1976.
Enter Kurt Waldheim, Secretary-General of the United Nations and Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, President of France.
Waldheim: OK, what’s going on? You’re telling me Mayotte’s French? But they’ve voted to be independent.
Giscard: Not at all. The people of Mayotte voted against independence.
Waldheim: But the Comoros islands as a whole voted for independence. Massively.
Giscard: We can’t consider the vote as a whole. There are four different islands so we have to look at the results separately. The three other islands chose independence, certainly, but Mayotte chose to be French.
Waldheim: But you can’t do that! Comoros is a single country.
Giscard: Yes, I can. I’m the President of France and you can’t stop me.
Waldheim: The United Nations will vote a resolution condemning you.
Giscard: Do you think I care? The people of Mayotte know they’ll get a much better deal with us than with the other islands. Let’s face it, Comoros is corrupt, unstable and mired in poverty. You know that as well as I do.
Waldheim: You have a point, I agree. But what you’re doing is still illegal.
Giscard: Sod off! Vive la France!
Act III. Mayotte, 2015.
Enter Curtis Bausse and his wife, Madeleine.
Curtis: Well, here we are. You don’t regret it, do you?
Mrs. B: Not at all. For better or for worse, Mayotte became a French department four years ago, and now must be treated as such, in the same way as Brittany or Alsace. That means raising the standard of education to the level of the rest of France, which at my modest level is what I shall try to do. It’s a huge challenge but I like a challenge, as you know. But what about you? I’m worried you’ll get bored.
Curtis: Oh, no. Now that I’m retired, I can write all day. I ask for nothing more! I’ve finished One Green Bottle and now I’m working on the sequel, Perfume Island, set here in Mayotte. Because although on the surface it looks like paradise, there’s a complex and disturbing reality beneath, and Magali Rousseau, my detective, is fast discovering that all is not as rosy as it seems.
Mrs. B: So you’re keeping yourself busy, then. That’s good.
Curtis: Oh, yes. Not to mention my blog.
Mrs. B: A blog? But you don’t know anything about blogging.
Curtis: No, but I’ve signed up for a course, blogging 101. It’s fantastic!
Mrs. B: Oh, c’est magnifique! Je t’aime!
Curtis: Je t’aime aussi. (They kiss).
Fade out. Curtain.