is a volcanic island in the Indian Ocean, situated on the east coast of
Madagascar and Reunion island and to the west of Rodrigues island. It
was on the spices route that the island was discoverd in a Storm in 1598
by the Dutch sailors whose damaged sailing boats were drifted and
brought to the shores of the island by the south east trade winds. The
dutch sailor Don Pedro Mascarenhas named it Mauritius after the king
of Holland, Maurice Van Nasseau.
Mauriitus was used to be a stop
over for food and for replenishing of fresh water on the way to the far
east before the suez canal was opened for navigation. That`s why it is
still known as the star and key of the indian ocean, as per its emblem "
Stella Clavisque Maris Indici ". The island was visited before by the
Arabs and Portuguese, but the Dutch eventually took over and decided to
exploit the island as it was abundant in ebony trees which was then cut
down and exported to Europe. In doing so, the habitats of the DODO were
destroyed and the dodo which was known as the lazy bird, eaten for food,
thereby becoming extinct. The Dutch stayed for quite some time and
brought deers and sugarcane from Batavia to grow and make a drink known
as arrack. They stayed for quite some time before deserting it due to
frequent cyclones and also because of rats and mongoose ( introduced in
the island to get rid of snakes ) which used to eat all their crops that
they grew to sustain themselves prior to the French occupation and
finally surrendering it to the British in 1810.
During the French colonial
period the island was known as Ile de France. The works of Bernardin de
Saint-Pierre reminds us of the adventure and tragedy of Paul and
Virginie and the wreck of the Saint Gerant in August 1744.
Mauritius is also known as the
land of the dodo - a bird which has become extinct mainly by the Dutch.
The Dodo was fat and heavy and therefore could not fly and as a result
of that was therefore easily caught and eaten for its meat which was
very tasty. Even today new discoveries are made on this mysterious bird
- This year a new discovery was made by a team of researches in the
region of Mare aux Songes.
On 12th March 1968, Mauritius
obtained its independence from the clutches of Britain after being ruled
for almost 158 years and the man behind the freedom is Sir Seewoosagur
Ramgoolam known as chacha for those who were intimate. SSR became then
the first prime minister and after its defeat in the political arena was
nominated to serve as governor general till his demise by the queen
Elizabeth II of England ..
"Chacha - uncle" left for his
heavenly abode on Sunday the 15th December 1985 but he still lives in
the hearts of a section of Mauritians, those who wanted to be freed as
opposed to the other section who had reservation about living in an
island predominantly dominated by Indians. There was an exodus of people
after the independence - Chinese to Canada, Creoles to Australia and
French whites to South Africa in their fear of being governed by an
indian prime minister, but who knew then that this young nation knew how
to persevere in racial harmony with the different segments of its
population living in harmony.
Today you land in Mauritius at
the Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam international airport, formerly known as
The size of the island is 1865
km² (740 square miles). The island is sub divided in 9 districts:
Rivière du Rempart, Pamplemousses, Port Louis, Black River , Moka,
Flacq, Plaines Wilhems , Savanne and Grand Port and the 10th district is
known as its dependency - The Rodriques island..
Its length is 65 km and width is
The main port is in the capital
of the island which is Port Louis. The harbour is situated in the North
West, protected by winds from the Moka and Port Louis barrier of
The outer islands
territories are known as Agalega, Cargados Caragos -
Saint Brandon and Rodrigues and they are the territories of
the republic of Mauritius with a population of around 1.4
million inhabitants. Mauritius is a multiracial country with
its population, all immigrants coming from Asia, Africa and
Europe. Today three cheers for this nation who lives in
perfect harmony and envied by other nations ..
I cannot refrain
myself from going a step further and saying "let`s remain
united and live in peace and harmony forever as life is just
are spoken in Mauritius: English, French, Hindi, Bhojpuri,
Urdu, Tamil, Telegu, Mandarin. Creole is spoken by a vast
majority of Mauritians. In this language, one can find
mostly words from French.
What really prides
in me is that I belong to the 4 th generation of indentured
labourers who came from the North Eastern state of Bihar in
India to toil the sugar cane fields in search of a brighter
future with false promises made that on turning stones you
`l l find gold. But unfortunately our ancestors never found
gold beneath the rocks but only hardship, pain and sacrifice
with a dream for a better future of their kins, who today
even do not want to digest the mere idea of savouring their
ancestral lunch and dinner based on plain rice, fried
salted snoek fish with chillies and onions.