I look like an Indian, speak a weird language which is neither English nor French but I use English and French words in my sentences and I am considered African. Where am I from? What if I say that I am from the land of the dodos?
People are often confused about where I come from. And when I tell them my country’s name, they don’t know it. So that increases their frustration about where I belong. (I can understand that. Even I used to question my identity.)
Well, I am from the Republic of Mauritius. It is an island in the Indian Ocean. We have many ethnicities and religions because of the island’s history. Many people are multilingual because we speak the Mauritian Creole, which is the mother tongue, English and French. Some other languages that are spoken, taught and/or learnt are Bhojpuri, Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Chinese, Urdu, Arabic and Marathi.
Mauritius is a tiny island to the SouthEast of Africa and was a French colony in the 1710-1810, and a British colony in the period 1810-1968. During the French and the British rule, slaves were brought in from countries in Africa, and indentured labourers were brought from India. Chinese contract workers came as early as the 1740s and settled in Port-louis, which is now the Capital of the country. In the 1830s larger numbers of Chinese workers came and settled in.
Mauritius is considered part of the African continent and as such it is the only country where Hinduism is the largest religion. It is a multicultural and multilingual country. And every year is a timeline of colorful and diverse festivals, and events. We celebrate the New Year, Cavadee, the Chinese New Year, Ugadi, Varusha Pirappu, Easter, Eid-Ul-fitr, Ganesh Chaturthi, Diwali and Christmas, amongst others. We have very diverse neighborhoods and communities, and we live quite peacefully most of the times.
My island is considered a paradise because apart from the diverse and colorful population, we have amazing beaches. Mauritius has only 2 seasons, winter and Summer, and they last about 6 months each. Summer is from November till April and the next 6 months after April is winter. However, the weather is sunny almost all year round, and that’s one of the reasons why it is a popular tourist destination.
Now that I am in China, people mistake me for an Indian more than ever, even if I’m not and they become even more confused as I know a lot of hindi songs and I can speak hindi. It is all the more disturbing to them, when they see me with my friend, a sino-Mauritian girl, talking in a weird language.
Just a fun story: When I went back home for the last summer holidays, my family and I went shopping in the capital city of Mauritius, Port-Louis and my parents and I were mistaken for a bunch of Indians. That was extremely hilarious. 😀
It is difficult to describe Mauritius in all its glory in just one article. So that’s just it for now. Keep looking for more such blogs. 😉
I may be of one ethnicity and I may speak many languages but my heart will always be Mauritian.