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The Creole Malaise in Mauritius

William F S Miles
African Affairs
Vol. 98, No. 391 (Apr., 1999), pp. 211-228
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/723627
Page Count: 18
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The Creole Malaise in Mauritius
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Abstract

Although they are the most geographically close to their continent of origin, the African diasporas of the Indian Ocean are among the most culturally remote from it. In Mauritius, where a highly developed form of multicultural pluralism has become the modus vivendi of the 'rainbow society', Creoles of African descent have developed the weakest sense of group identity among the various components of island society. Yet for that very reason Creoles are arguably the 'most Mauritian' of islanders: they alone trace their origins and ancestral language purely to their island of birth. In a society where the sense of nationhood is so weak this may be more of a handicap than an asset. Only in recent years has a sense of Creoleness begun to develop, one which incorporates Africanity. The Creole programme includes a reinterpretation of the meaning of slavery in modern society and attempts to give the anniversary of abolition the status of a national holiday. It also encourages the recognition of African folkways in island culture. It does so, however, in the face of anti-African prejudices, shared by many Creoles themselves. Extension of nascent trade and business linkages with the African mainland is critical to correcting the current Creole malaise.

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