History of Mauritius Music

by 09/11/2012 11:22:00 0 comments 967 Views

The music of Mauritius is known for sega music, alongside the nearby Réunion island, though reggae, zouk, soukous and other genres are also popular. Sega was originally introduced by the African ancestors and originates from East and Southern Africa. Today it has been infused with local rhythms and instruments.

Well-known singers from Mauritius include Ti Frére, Serge Lebrasse, Cassiya and the France-based Clarel Betsy.


The sega is the most typical native dance of Mauritius. The traditional instrumentation includes the ravanne, a goat-skin covered drum, the triangle, and the maravane.

Sega dance comes from slavery. Slaves used to sing sega dance to forget about their worries and pains. Sega music was a way for them to express their feelings. Some of the sega songs talk about the history of their ancestors and their sacrifices. Sega is about telling a life story or giving a word of advice. Nowadays, Mauritians sing those songs for fun and to remember their heritage.

Popular sega

Les Windblows is a well-known sega band from Mauritius, though Cassiya, before many of its original members moved on to pursue solo careers, was probably the most popular group ever to have graced the island. Other well-known performers include Marie-Jose Clency, who often sings in duo with her husband Roger Clency. Their combined careers started over three decades ago with popular songs such as Ortensia and Reprend Mo Mari Anglais.

Over the past twenty years, Mauritian music has been revitalized by a fusion of reggae and sega, known as seggae. This new wave emerged from one of poorer suburbs of Port Louis, known as Roche Bois, with the musician Kaya (Joseph Reginald Topize) and his group Racinetatane as the first major proponent. It gained much popularity among Rastafarians and then more widely among the youths of Mauritius in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Kaya died in murky, and still unexplained, circumstances while in police custody in 1999. He was being held at the time for allegedly smoking a joint at a (pro-marijuana) public rally organised by an aspiring politician. Kaya's death sparked a three-day riot, with widespread looting and a news-blackout that only fuelled the wildest rumours and threatened the social fabric of Mauritius. Amongst the widespread damage caused by these events, another talented seggae musician, Berger Agathe, was shot and killed by the police, then by dealing a double-blow to the Mauritian music scene within a few days. Despite all this, seggae music survives as one of Kaya's legacy and is often viewed as a voice exposing the angst and hopes of many of the poorest Mauritians.

Asian music in Mauritius

Indian immigrants have brought many of their own styles of music and dance, along with instruments like the sitar and tabla. Mauritian-based Bhojpuri music has always been popular with people of Indian-descent, but is now gaining mainstream appeal through the work of artists such as The Bhojpuri Boys and Neeraj Gupta Mudhoo. Their fusion of bhojpuri lyrics, sega beats, and more traditional Indian, as well as Bollywood-style, music has won the hearts of many Mauritians and given rise to major hits such as Langaroo (by The Bhojpuri Boys) and, more recently, Dragostea Din Te. Chinese immigrants have also infused Mauritian culture with elements from distinctly Chinese musical traditions.

Rock music in Mauritius

Rock music has recently become very popular in Mauritius, many bands have become famous, including XBreed Supersoul, Skeptikal, and Reborn Orlean which is nearer to metal/hard rock.

Opera music in Mauritius

Since 2009 there is an Opera Festival in Mauritius Opera Mauritius and The Friends.