Mauritian Music

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The typical music of Mauritius dates from the slavery times. As music expresses one’s feelings, the Mauritian music, Sega, is the voicing out of the slaves’ suffering accented by the melodious rhythm of mainly three instruments: the ravanne, the maravanne and the triangle. Most of the slaves were of African origin and so at night time, under a roaring fire on the beach, they would let out their yearning for their home and their daily hardships. Mauritian Sega has evolved over time with more instrumental beats but the basics have remained the same. The Mauritian Sega is accompanied by the sensual Sega dance which involves moving to the music especially regarding the hips. The women wear flowery tops and large matching skirts that they hold between their hands throughout the dance while men wear knee length shorts and flowery shirts. The dance consists of men and women swirling and kneeling on the dance floor to the music’s beat. Another famous Mauritian music is the Seggae, a mix of reggae and Sega. It is very common amongst the Rastafarians on the island especially in the poorer areas where people cry out their misery through the songs but most people on the island enjoy the slow beats of this kind of music. One of the most famous Seggae singers was Kaya; he died while under police custody in 1999 which caused a great riot all over the island. When indentured labourers from Bihar, India, were brought to the island, they also brought with them their local cultural heritance, the Bhojpuri. This type of music consists of fast and moving beats that the Hindu population in the villages of Mauritius appreciate a lot. Old women can be seen dancing, moving their hands and hips to the Bhojpuri music especially at weddings which is more of a tradition for them. Bhojpuri is a very common type of music on the island and the famous Bhojpuri boys have given a new sense to the music. People from other parts of India have a hand in the music in Mauritius too, such as the Tamil, Telegu and Marathi. The Chinese counterparts also have their traditional music of soothing and calm oriental beats on which girls usually dressed in red can be seen flying with grace across the dance floor, fans in hand. One of the most recognisable and famous Chinese music though is that of the lion dance where boys and girls wear the Chinese dragon costume and dance to the rough and melodious music of drums. Amongst the youngsters music from the west is quite famous. They listen and dance to different music types like hip hop, rock and pop music. With the process of globalisation, communication and sharing is getting less and less of a barrier and music from all over the world can be heard in Mauritius. Nevertheless there is no alternative to the Mauritian Sega which all ethnicities on the island enjoy as well as Mauritian immigrants and people can be seen dancing and laughing merrily on the Sega dance at all parties!

Peaches Published 28 Dec 2010

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