Posts Tagged ‘Reunion Island’
The three islands of Réunion, Mauritius and Rodrigues are located in the western part of the Indian Ocean. They constitute the Archipelago of the Mascarenes near the tropic of the Capricorn. They were randomly discovered by the Portuguese Pedro de Mascarenhas in the 16th Century as he was on his way to India.
History is probably the strongest links between these little rocks on the sea. They were ruled by the French and British Kingdoms consecutively and a large part of their populations have ancestors that had been subjected to slavery.
Nowadays, Réunion is part of the French republic and the European Union whilst Mauritius is an Independent republic. It is part of the Commonwealth though. Rodrigues is governed by the Mauritian state.
History is tied to music which often creates a sense of identity. Also, even if inhabitants of these islands do not consider themselves as close as they could, they have in common the local music called Séga and the Créole language.
Séga is rhythmic and percussion based. It is thought that it had been created by the Malgache and Mozambican slaves who had been brought there to cultivate sugar cane, coffee and spicies.
This music has evolved and you can listen to two main forms that differ significantly nowadays:
-The original Séga, Traditional Séga in Mauritius, similar to the Maloya of Réunion Island and Séga Tambour from Rodrigues.
-The modern Séga, called Séga Salon in Mauritius, Séga in Réunion and Séga-Accordion in the smallest island.
The original form is danced very fast and the dancers, usually a couple, simulate a romantic chase and its conclusion.
The modern Séga blends African, Malgaches and European influences. It is danced in a way that is more organised and repetitive, it’s said that it is a Créole interpretation of 4th figure of the Quadrille dance that was fashionable in the 19th century in France.
The modern Séga is embraced by the old and young generations. In Mauritius the typical Séga appears to be in decline, whereas in Réunion the Maloya has built from strength to strength since the 1970 when it was used as the voice local people asking freedom of speech and to forge the idea of ‘Créole indentity’, thing that was perceived as threat by the French government.
The famous Maloya bands and singers are:
-Le Roy Caf
Danyel Waro has greatly contributed to make to Maloya known outside of Réunion Island especially in mainland France.
Davy Sicard is part of the new generation that fuses new sounds into the Maloya making it approachable to an international audience.
The greatest band of Séga ever is from Mauritius and its name is Cassiya. Beautiful melodies as well as simple lyrics telling the life story of normal people have made this band famous in the Indian Ocean. The band has dissolved few years ago and one of there musician Alain Ramanisum is one of the most renowned singer of the moment.
The Mordern séga for Réunion is usually slower that in Mauritius.
Of course the Séga is now often mixed to other sounds like Reggae, Hip Hop, Bollywood…
The hip hop singer KM David, or Kaf Malbar (meaning man of both African and Indian descent) was on the top of the hit with the song Kfrine Dofé (the girl of fire)