Sega – The Emblem of Mauritian culture

As the final golden rays of the massive orange ball of fire basked the turquoise blue waters and the daunting darkness threatened to take over. A miniature yellow bonfire had been set up on the white sand to mimic the radiance of the sun as the blankets of obscurity took over the scene. The waves of the blue waters seemed to entice the crowd to stay behind, as if some kind of feast awaited them. 

The yellow gold flames which crackled through the continuous gush of waves not only served as light through the night but also warmed up the hearts of the many tired souls and most importantly warmed the traditional “Ravane”- a handmade tambourine like instrument made from wood and goatskin. 

The Ravane, being tuned up, was being played until the “triangle” – a triangular piece of metal and the “Maravanne”- a wooden rectangular box filled with seeds or sand joined the musical cadence in total synchrony. The instruments were simple yet had the power to ignite a strange feeling of happiness in the hearts of all the listeners. The energetic tune that this trio produced brought in a sense of belonging into the hearts of the many strangers of the crowds. Resentment turned into happiness, doubt turned into confidence and despair turned into positivity.

From afar, a few voices joined the symphony and shared in vocals of the different languages they knew – Creole, Hindi, Bhojpuri, and Tamil and so on… AS they all gathered round the bonfire, claps matched up to the rhythm of the Ravane, few ladies in colorful, flowy, long skirts and men in colorful shirts and shorts joined in swaying their hips in the same rhythm as the waves in the blue lagoon.

While the fire dispelled darkness that loomed around, the music seemed to bring in hope into the tired hearts. The vibrant colored clothes gave those hearts a sense of determination that tomorrow will dawn into a brighter day. The music, above everything else, gave each of those tired souls a reason to keep working harder…

Having been born and brought up in the island of Mauritius, I have been deeply connected to my tropical, signature, islander roots. As time holds testimony, Mauritius, a jewel lost in the peaceful blue waters of the Indian ocean has been the home to a multicultural heritage, bringing together people from diverse cultural backgrounds, be it centuries ago, when this island was inhabited by slaves and indentured laborers or in the present day where Mauritians still rejoice and celebrate their diversity in peace and harmony and the Sega remains a pivotal cultural pillar of the Mauritian lifestyle. I have been exposed to the famous Sega music and dance since a very tiny age. The Sega is certainly an intrinsic part of every single Mauritian. The image of people dancing to the rhythmic beats of the traditional Sega instruments by the beach at dusk is one shared by almost all locals whenever we talk about Sega.

Sega is not just a form of folk dance but it is a lifestyle shared by all Mauritians. The perfect synchrony of musical tunes, vocals and dance steps is a mirror to how Sega served as a bridge to connect people of all age groups and ethnic races. 

In the past, the Sega was used as a medium to express the pain, the experiences and the sorrow of the slaves on the island of Mauritius. In the present days, it serves a pivotal tool in remembering the past and venerating the ancestors who are still alive among us through the vibes of the traditional Sega music and dance.

And as it is rightly said, The Sega will live on as long the sun keeps shining, as long as the turquoise blue waters keep crashing onto the golden sand of Mauritius. The Sega will live on through the hearts of all Mauritians and the Sega will forever be the legacy of Mauritius. 

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