12 Mar What makes Mauritius beautiful?
We sometimes get distracted by negative news stories which can propagate pessimism and contaminate our national pride. With Mauritius’ Independence Day around the corner, let’s stop fermenting in this pool of cynicism and focus on what makes Mauritius BEAUTIFUL.
“Mauritius was made first, and then heaven; and that heaven was copied after Mauritius.” – Mark Twain
We’ve all heard Mark Twain’s famous (slightly corny and cunningly misquoted) phrase about Mauritius in his book Following the Equator. This quote has been used repeatedly to sell Mauritius as a travel destination, to promote Mauritian products, and to caption #nofilter Instagram posts with the sole purpose of making our foreign friends envious.
It is true, Mauritius is heavenly. Our island has some of the best beaches in the world, sapphire seas surround our coasts, and verdant valleys stretch between mountains. In fact, in 2018, Mauritius was even featured in Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel Top 10 Countries.
Yet, is this really what makes Mauritius beautiful?
For me, the most beautiful place in Mauritius is not some breath-taking beach. It is in the centre of Port Louis where the Royal Road meets Dr Joseph Rivière Street.
Here, at the entrance to China Town, stands the Jummah Mosque. Built by Indian artisans for Muslim congregants, this mosque has a unique blend of Islam, Indian and Creole architecture. At this street corner, Mauritian cultures unite like colourful threads woven into a fascinating Mauritian quilt.
So, what makes Mauritius truly beautiful?
Originally, Mauritius was an uninhabited island. Today, it’s one of the most culturally diverse islands in the world. This was also true back in 1896. In fact, in the same Mark Twain book as the “heaven” quote mentioned earlier, he describes Port Louis as “a little town, but with the largest variety of nationalities and complexions we have encountered yet.” Perhaps this is the Twain phrase we should be quoting?
Mauritians originate from the Indian subcontinent, East Africa, Europe and China. The Religions include Hinduism (48.5%), Christianity (32.7%), Islam (17.3%), Buddhism / Taoism / Confucianism (0.5%), and other unspecified religions (1%).
Did you know?
Mauritius is the only African nation with Hinduism as the largest religion. As a matter of fact, it’s the country with the tenth highest Hindu population in the world.
Here, our languages are even more varied, with most of the population being multilingual. English is considered the official language of Mauritius and is mainly used in government and administration. At the workplace, French is the language usually spoken. At home, however, most Mauritians speak Creole. Other languages include Bhojpuri, Hindi, Tamil, Urdu, Marathi, Telugu, and even Hakka, Cantonese and Mandarin. It is also possible to hear the three different languages in a single sentence.
The island’s rich diversity is also reflected in our local food: Indian curries, Muslim biryanis, Creole rougailles, French patisserie, Chinese sweets and so on. In his vlog, Drew Binsky, a world traveller, notes that “the best part about Mauritius’ diverse culture can be seen in its food.” As a food tour company, we fully support this statement! 😉
Photo credits: Eric Lee
Over time, cultures combined to concoct a culinary identity. Flavours fused into Mauritianised meals, and people united under one Mauritian identity. As one people. As one nation.
Elsewhere, so many differences in such a small space could have caused cultural clashes and chaos. Yet, Mauritians have managed to live side by side peacefully.
Our cultural awareness is our strongest asset and our greatest privilege. We should stop taking our diversity for granted.
Our diversity is what makes our Mauritian identity.
Our diversity is what makes Mauritius beautiful.