Vexed by the meaning of certain words such as vexillology, for example? Fear not, for here at Mauritius Foods we not only endeavour to bring you information relevant to the incredible and colourful cuisine of Mauritius, but we’re also on hand to deal with any queries that may crop up on any topic regarding our Island.
Not long after Mauritius Independence Day (March 12th) this year, a visitor to our island nation, whom I met while enjoying a glass of Agricole rum, mentioned that he had a developing interest as a vexillologist. My immediate thoughts readied me for the lead into a joke of some kind that would end in a face plant and “I should have seen that coming” type of reaction.
However, as I soon learned this gentleman was genuine and swiftly enlightened me on his new-found hobby. “Flags,” he said as he wafted an imaginary pennant in the air. “Vexillology is the study of flags, how each one came about and what they symbolise,” he continued.
Having a passing interest in genealogy and family crests, my curiosity was instantly heightened and was fascinated to know if this flag fancier had researched the multi-coloured standard of Mauritius. “Ah, Les Quatre Bandes,” he crowed with a hint of Gallic flair before continuing with an explanation of each colour’s meaning.
His awareness of our flag’s name in French didn’t surprise me nor did his knowledge of what each colour represented given his admitted interest and presence on Mauritius during Independence Day celebrations.
For those that don’t know and are keen to learn, the flag of Mauritius comprises four horizontal bands of different colours, with red at the top and then blue, yellow and green, in descending order. Red is symbolic of the blood spilt through times of slavery and colonisation. Blue representing the Indian Ocean from which Mauritius was born is the colour blue, while yellow reflects independence and sunshine in which the Island now basks. Finally, the colour green evokes a sense of the Island’s verdant vegetation.
My friendly fan of flags must have recognised an expression of not being overly impressed as I congratulated him on his general knowledge because he lifted his glass and asked if I knew from where the flag’s colours originated. Confused, I clumsily blurted out that hadn’t he just described their origin. A brief smile crossed his face.
Gotcha! That’s what those smiles mean. You know the ones; one corner of the mouth raised ever so slightly, not quite a smirk, but not far off.
Suddenly he was Jack Palance and we had stepped into an episode of Ripley’s Believe It Or Not! What ‘Jack’ then presented was truly fascinating and something I was not previously aware. “Ethiopia,” he announced, clearly enjoying the higher ground.
“Mauritius has African connections and along with many African countries that gained independence in the 50s and 60s, Mauritius adopted the colours — which have similar representations — of the Ethiopian flag in honour of the country being one of the oldest independent African states,” he declared. Impressed, I bought Jack a drink and we attempted to out-fact each other well into the evening!
Learning about your homeland from a visitor is humbling experience, but also a reminder to explore the history of your country a little more. I’m sure you’ll be surprised at what you might find about yours with a little research!
Goodbye for now!