Can you dance without your feet ever leaving the ground?
If your answer is yes, then who has been teaching you Sega?
Sega is the traditional dance and music of the island nation of Mauritius, which is today's focus on 28 Black's eye on Africa.
Mauritius is located at the intersection of the Asian and African continents. And the island was uninhabited until 1638. This is despite adventurous European and Arab sailors knowing of the island as far back as the 1500s. An interesting fact that often raises eyebrows.
The Dutch eventually laid claim to it in 1638 by establishing a settlement named in honor of Prince Maurice of Nassau. And boy did they do a number on their new territory.
Their presence led to the extinction of the flightless dodo bird. This extinction is cited as the most well-known example of human-induced extinction.
The Dutch eventually left, then came the French, who also left, and the English, who also left when Mauritius gained independence in 1968.
As of July 2020, Mauritius was a high-Income country. Unlike most sub-Saharan African countries, this island nation does not rely heavily on agriculture. The economy is diversified and based on financial services, manufactured exports, and tourism.
If Africa were a classroom and its countries were the students, Mauritius would be the quiet kid who keeps surprising everyone with her wit.
Mauritius is gradually turning her maritime space into a money mint. This transition is happening as other countries sleep on their maritime potential.
The country has decided to make “Ocean Economy” one of the pillars for its economic development strategy.
The plan is meant to double the contribution of the ocean economy to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) by 2025 and present the country as a gateway to Africa.
And that is not all – this island nation seems to be gunning for the top spot as a global financial services hub. Switzerland and The Cayman Islands are shaking in their boots.
Mauritius' beauty is a thing of fame. Even with the global tourism industry suffering due to Covid 19, Mauritius had scores of visitors waiting for her to reopen her doors. 54,434 visitors set foot on Mauritian soil when borders re-opened in October of 2020.
Most people will think of white sandy beaches, clear blue skies and ocean, tall palm trees, lagoons, and reefs at the mention of Mauritius. They are not wrong.
Tourism is one of Mauritius' biggest foreign exchange earners. You do not need to be a rocket scientist to understand why.
Mauritius will enchant you.
Most visitors gravitate towards the resort areas. However, the tropical paradise also gets tourists that are drawn to the country for its people and culture.
The country does not have an indigenous population. Mauritius’ ethnic mix is a product of more than two centuries of European colonialism and persistent international labor migration. Interestingly, 68% of the population is of Indian descent. 27% are Creoles. 3% are Chinese and 2% are of European descent.
That's right – Northern Africa is not the only part of Africa home to a high population of non-black Africans.
This amalgamation of ethnicities creates a colorful rainbow nation. And it expresses its diversity through dance, religion, literature, music, and tradition.
The past and the present blend together beautifully in this melting point. Mauritians brag that the best of European, Indian, African, and Chinese cultures meet on the islands of Mauritius.
Around the world, the word sundowner refers to an alcoholic drink taken at sunset.
Not in Mauritius.
A Mauritian sundowner is a traditional holiday and weekend ritual common during summer.
Scores of Mauritians and foreigners flock to the beach to mingle and enjoy the last rays of the sun. On such holidays, surrounded by friendly locals, looking at the vast ocean, it feels impossible to grow immune to the beauty of Mauritius.
Would I be wrong in thinking sundowners play a vital role in growing the tourism industry that accounts for 23.9% of the nation’s GDP?
Dance and Rhythm
Mauritians always wear bright floral clothes when dancing Sega, the country's national dance. Maxi skirts and matching petticoats for women. Colorful shirts paired with rolled up pants for men.
Sega is the result of turning lemons into lemonade. The dance and rhythm of Sega go back to the 18th century when enslaved people performed it to stir up hope.
The popular dance involves the suggestive movements of the hips and arms to a rhythmic beat. While the dance is very upbeat, it is more than a performing art.
Mauritians use it to express their miseries and the urge to overcome them as their ancestors did. The dance is a true testament of the nation's will to be joyful and full of life.