Mauritius Culture and History, Mauritius

Mauritius Culture and History

Mauritius is one of the unique multinational societies. Where else can so many towns and villages boast of a catholic church, a Muslim mosque, and a Hindu temple all within walking distance from each other? And if you are lucky, you could even discover a Chinese pagoda in the area. One little-known cemetery at Bambous hosts a burial ground with a Muslim and a Jewish area.

The lushly vegetated and entirely unpopulated island was discovered by Portuguese explorers in the 16th century, and eventually settled by the Dutch. In 1715 the French arrived and took over the island from the Dutch settlers, who are mainly remembered for having eaten the entire island's population of the flightless dodo birds (which were native only to Mauritius).

When the French settled in Mauritius they introduced the quiet island to slavery. The slaves where all brought from Africa (mainly from Senegal, Guinea, Mozambique and Madagascar) to work in the sugar-cane farms. The Mauritian Creole language, now in semi-universal use on the island, more than likely evolved during those years as a method of communication between slaves and masters. In the 18th century the British became interested in Mauritius because it was the ideal stop-over spot for the ships and crews on their way to India.

In 1810, the British won the island over from the French. However, British reign was basically administrative and the French were allowed to stay. One unfortunate, thing that did not change was the use of African Slaves, until the 1840s when the colonists freed them due to pressure from abolitionists. There was suddenly a labour shortage so the British brought indentured labourers from India, hence the large Indian population in Mauritius.

In the early 20th century Mauritius saw the arrival of Chinese settlers who wanted to try their luck in retail trade. The island was once more in political unrest in the 1960 and ultimately gained it independence from British rule in 1968. From then onwards the country has been under a constitutional rule, specifically thoughtful of the minorities and their equal rights.

Now, about the Jewish cemetery at Bambous.Jewish refugees from East Europe tried to get to Palestine in the early 1940s to escape the Nazi persecution. They journeyed down the west coast of Africa, past the Cape of Good Hope and into the Indian Ocean. They were taken by the British at this point and brought to Mauritius and made to stay there pending the end of the war. Some of them died and were buried in Mauritius on the ground they share with Muslims.





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