Tuesday, November 20, 2007


The sega is both the national dance and musical form of Mauritius. Introduced by African slaves during the French colonial period, the sega is an exotic, often erotic dance. Women in colorful skirts twirl and undulate, using graceful hand and arm motions while their feet shuffle along the ground. Sega music is said to have been influenced by reggae, creating a fusion music locally known as seggae.


Slaves singing and dancing the Sega

"As far back as 1768, travellers to Mauritius were bringing back tales of slaves' singing and dancing which seemed to their entranced eyes so different and special.

Bernardin de St Pierre then, spoke of the slaves' passion for music and of the soft harmony of unknown instruments to match songs with every present love themes. Milber, in 1803, spoke of sensual dance steps that clearly show their warm intentions, and Rousselin, in 1860, was one of the many to be inspired to attempt the capture of the atmosphere of slave dancing in drawings. They had all witnessed the magic of the the black shega dance or music, or as it soon came to be known; the sega. They had all heard the music born of African souls soothed in their lost homelands on rapid drumbeats and pounding rhythms. African souls now caught in an island's fragrance and soft beauty. From this unison came the sega.

The dancing the travellers had marvelled at, is the body language of slaves forgetting, leaving pain and sorrow behind at the end of a hard day's work. Le Morne beach, on the south west of the island is linked to the history of sega. In its legend, the beach is moonlit and cool, a fire burns glowing over the faces, hiding the flaws of the shacks nearby. The dancers wait and watch as the musicians heat the ravane. Maybe some landlords have brought over a few friends from overseas. They too wait to watch. They may even, if they have thought to bring and offer a few rhum caskets, hear their praises being sung in Creole, raucous French cooked in African spices. The songs come straight from the singer's heart. They were in these days, hardly ever rehearsed.

Stimulated and inspired by local rum, the fishing folks gather around a camp fire and give full vent to their emotions. Very often they dance without any music at all and are accompanied only by the sound of the Ravane, the tinkling of spoons, the rattling of seeds in a tin, and the clapping of hands of spectators who eventually join in the melee."

Photos by Sajid Malik

"The dance itself is the rhythmic swaying of the hips to the pulsating rhythm of the Ravane. It starts with a gentle swaying, to a slow and solemn tune, which gradually rises, consuming the dancers and setting their bodies jerking, stretching and swaying with animated movements to keep pace with the ever-increasing tempo.

The beat creeps inside you and as your body responds to the rhythm, you are carried to heights of ecstasy, generating a vibrating force that shakes the "lead" off your feet and inspires you to a high-spirited and unrestrained way of dancing. Tiring perhaps, but ex-hilarating! Never mind if your movement does not follow the rhythm ... just carry on dancing and you will be amazed how rhythm and movement synchronize afterwards." Source http://www.encyclopedia.mu/Society/Music/History.htm


Mauritius Sega Music (AWESOME LOVE THIS CLIP)

Amazing Mauritius ~ Sega Dance

Mauritius Pot Puri Sega


History of Sega

Saturday, November 17, 2007


Picturesque Goree Island or as is commonly known in Senegal Île de Gorée

The island of Gorée is reported to be one of the first places in Africa to be settled by Europeans, with the Portuguese setting foot on the island in 1444. The Dutch are said to have bought the island from a local chief for a trifling amount and took control over the island in 1588. Gorée became a way station for Dutch ships plying the route between their forts on the Gold Coast (now Ghana) and the caribbean West Indies. The Dutch named the island after the Dutch island of Goerée. or according to some—for its sheltered harbor, “Goode Reede” (good harbor). Gorée changed hands many times. The British took it from the Dutch; the Dutch then recaptured it, but had to give it up again to the French during French maritime expansion under Colbert. In 1802, by the terms of the Amiens peace agreement, the island became French and remained so until Senegalese independence in 1960.

Harbour in Goree Island
Photo by Giel F

Gorée was the principal entry point off the coast of Africa for slavers and merchantmen flying the French flag. After the abolition of the slave trade in France in 1848, Gorée was an outpost for policing the seas. As its role in trade declined, it became a stepping off point for French colonization of the interior of West Africa. Goree Island is one of the major tourist attraction site in Senegal because of its history as a major slave-trading center.

Slavery depiction, Maison des Esclaves
Photo by Brian McMorrow

House of Slaves, Île de Gorée. The House of Slave was designed to detain slaves awaiting to be sold and for shipment.
Photos by Brian McMorrow

Slave House (Maison des Esclaves)

"The owner's residential quarters were on the upper floor. The lower floor was reserved for the slaves who were weighed, fed and held before departing on the transatlantic journey. The Slave House with its famous "Door of No Return" has been preserved in its original state."
Source: Goree Island

Sketch depicting slaves aboard a ship
Photos by Robin Elaine

Leg irons for slaves
Photos by Robin Elaine

Slave Holding cell

Door of No Return
The slaves went out through this door never to return

Slavery Freedom Monument in Goree Island
A monument symbolizing the end of the slave trade

Photo by Carostan

Fort d'Estreés now houses the Historical Museum

"The shipping of slaves from Goree lasted from 1536 when the Portuguese launched the slave trade to the time the French halted it 312 years later. ...The surrounding waters are so deep that any attempt at escaping would mean sure drowning. With a five kg metal ball permanently attached to their feet or necks, a captured African would know what jumping into the deep sea would bring.


The island, with some 1,300 inhabitants is said to be so tranquil that there are no cars, no crime, and those who visit Goree are said to behave more like pilgrims visiting a holy shrine than as tourists.

Most visitors don't even spend the night on Goree. There is only one hotel.

During his visit to Goree in 1981, the former French prime minister, Michel Rocard, said, "It is not easy for a white man, in all honesty, to visit this Slave House without feeling ill-at-ease".

The Pope also visited Goree in 1992 and asked for forgiveness because historians say that a lot of Catholic missionaries were involved in the slave trade.

The slave house at Goree has also been visited by South African President Nelson Mandela. He toured the island three years before his election, and insisted on crawling into a cramped holding cell."

Bill Clinton visited the island in 1998

Text source: Goree: The Slave Island BBC

President George W. Bush and Laura Bush tour the Slave House on Goree Island, Senegal, with President Abdoulaye Wade and Viviane Wade of Senegal, Secretary of State Colin Powell, far left, and National Security Advisor Dr. Condoleezza Rice Tuesday, July 8, 2003. White House photo by Paul Morse

"For hundreds of years on this island peoples of different continents met in fear and cruelty. Today we gather in respect and friendship, mindful of past wrongs and dedicated to the advance of human liberty,"

Bush speaking at Goree Island 8th july 2003

In 1978 Goree Island was designated a UNESCO world heritage site.

Life in Goree today is pleasant however the buildings in island are a constant reminder of its dark history

UNESCO Goree Island Senegal