Renganaden Seeneevassen, who was born in 1910, grew up in Port Louis, Mauritius in a humble family of ten children. He started school at the age of five. He soon showed great ability and intelligence, and as a result was sent to another school to finish his primary education.
Seeneevassen had also developed a love of music. At that time, the only musical instrument that his family could afford was a harmonica. He soon became very good at it, and under a mango tree he would entertain his parents with the tunes of that time.
After primary school Seeneevassen was admitted to the prestigious Royal College on merit. This represented a personal victory for him as not many non-Whites could obtain admission to that institution at the time – Mauritius being then a deeply divided British colony. He was a brilliant student and came fourth at the English Scholarship examinations. It is said that he was discriminated against in the award of the scholarships. His favourite subjects were English and Mathematics.
He then applied for a teaching post at the same Royal College, but was rejected while others with lesser qualifications were employed. He taught at a private school in Port-Louis, which unfortunately was insolvent for some time. He started giving private tuition. He was very good at it and successfully prepared many students for the School Certificate examinations.
By that time Seeneevassen had seen enough injustices and infamies committed on his people, and he was driven by a strong desire to study Law in the United Kingdom and to come back to his beloved country and fight injustice wherever it was necessary. So with the money he had saved and the proceeds of his mother’s selling her jewellery, Seeneevassen left Mauritius in 1935 to study in England.
Seeneevassen was also a very keen sportsman. He loved table tennis at which he was very good. He was also a very good tennis player, and liked running and swimming. In his student days in England he took part in the Wimbledon tennis tournament and qualified for the second round.
In England, he studied at the London School of Economics, which, at the time, was the most advanced centre of English socialist thought. That institution was also then dominated by the powerful personality of Professor Harold Laski, of whom Seeneevassen became one of the most ardent students, and who introduced the young man to some of the Labour leaders of the time.
Seeneevassen was a very popular student, and was chosen by the Indian students studying in London to be president of the Indian Students’ Union, although he was not himself born in India. He also had the opportunity of meeting the Indian leaders Mahatma Gandhi and Pandit Nehru. In 1940, at the age of thirty, he returned to Mauritius to embark on an illustrious legal and political career.