An Independently Wealthy Republic of Nations
If ever there is a reason to celebrate, then the Independence of Mauritius is truly one that should encourage worldwide enthusiasm!
Many a nation has suffered, endured and eventually shouldered off the yoke of imperial or colonial power having had their homeland invaded by another nation (or nations) seeking to enrich their own coffers. Mauritius, however, is somewhat different in never having an indigenous population, but having been settled by a series of powers that in turn brought their own people or forced natives from other lands to inhabit the island to work the land.
From the stories of Portuguese, Dutch, French and English to Indian, African and Chinese people that have come to call Mauritius their home, also comes the tale of a nation that has emerged from international power struggles and the subsequent integration of different nationalities that now fly one single flag.
While it is known that the French Navy under the distant command of Napoleon achieved its only major victory against the British during the Napoleonic Wars in defence of Grand Port, it wasn’t long after that disastrous encounter that the British wrestled control of the island from the French and renamed it Mauritius in 1810.
From that time until 1968, Mauritius remained under British rule, but during that control many concessions were allowed and changes made, including the abolition of slavery, which eventually paved the path towards an independent republic.
So, rather than an indigenous population being overpowered and then struggling to regain control of their homeland from their oppressors, those peoples that landed to work or were awarded their freedom began to invest themselves in a beautiful island and did strive to make it their own. This is something wonderfully unique to Mauritius, and while many will suggest that many problems socially and culturally still exist, rejoicing in how far the island has come with regard to such a blend of different cultures since being discovered 500 years ago is an absolute must!
The Indian population of Mauritius is majority, with approximately 70 percent and is evident especially in the Island’s cuisine from the popular dholl puri (vegetable and curry filled pancakes), roti chaud and rougaille. Celebrations on March 12th also have a heavy Indian influence with many famous Indian celebrities taking part in the festivities, but did you know that the date chosen to mark independence is also of significance to Indian history, in particular. It was in fact the date that Ghandibegan his Dandi March or Salt Satyagraha in 1930.
Of course, now Mauritius is one of the world’s top tourist destinations, but a visit during this celebratory time would help the curious traveller to understand more of its embattled past and the joyous nature of a people who have taken control of their fate to make their home one of the most desired and exotic locations around the globe!
Picture courtesy of the Daily Mail