MAURITIAN CULTURE: Kreol festival attracts journalists to Mauritius

An 40-strong team of journalists and artists will be converging on the Indian Ocean island of Mauritius today for the International Kreol Festival, being held at the Domaine Les Pailles arena in the western suburbs of Mauritian capital Port Louis. The International Kreol Festival is a regionally renowned celebration of Mauritian culture and music, from the staccato beats and African-inspired music and dance of the island’s sega music, to the sampling of Mauritian delicacies such as ‘gato piment’ (chilli cake) and ‘poutou’ (dried sweetened coconut dessert).

Mauritius (Photo credit: Samovar Group)

The journalists have flown into Mauritius from a dozen countries, according to Mauritius’ French-language newspaper L’Express. However neither the journalists’ news organisation nor their countries of origin are mentioned in the L’Express article. Accompanying the media team are several foreign artists. All the visitors will have a chance to experience the Mauritian culture just as an islander would live it. Staying at the hotel “Zilwa Attitude”, the reporters and artists are being treated to tours of Mauritius including beach trips , town visits to places like Goodlands in the north and the chance to witness that most beautiful of sights, a fiery tropical Mauritian sunset. They will also be waken every morning to a freshly-made traditional breakfast, consisting of ‘gato pima’ (also known as gateau or gato piment) accompanied with locally produced bread.

It is hoped that the positive experiences of the journalists and artists will help further Mauritius’ popularity as a friendly holiday destination with a vibrant, hospitable and fun island life. In addition, the visit will help reposition the island republic, home to 1.2 million people, as a hotspot of culture – moving away from the usual image of Mauritius in travel brochures as a island of hotels, sun, sea and sand. The island for years relied on sugar and textiles as the mainstay of its economy but tourism is now the largest contributor to Mauritius’ GDP, with finance and information technology also being important sectors economically.

A video of performances at the International Kreol Festival in 2011.

The Kreol (Creole) Festival is a cultural tourism initiative by the Mauritius Tourism Promotion Authority, the government agency responsible for promoting the island’s sights both nationally and abroad. It is a grand celebration of Mauritian music in particular with concerts attracting tens of thousands of Mauritians and foreigners alike. In 2012, also at the Domaine Les Pailles, more than 30 local and regional artists performed on stage, including Sir Samuel and Tairo, who are popular reggae and dancehall artists from France. Joining the French duo live on stage last year were Mercenary (Seychelles), Dominique Barret (Reunion) and from the offshore Mauritian island of Rodrigues, singer Black Rod. Many Mauritian singers of the sega tradition are also an established feature of the Kreol Festival.

Out of all the islands where French-based creole languages are used, Mauritius was the last to open up an official festival of Creole culture. The first concerts began playing only in 2006 after the festival was opened by then tourism minister Xavier Duval as a gesture towards Mauritians of mixed African and French heritage, who were often overlooked in previous Ministry of Culture projects.

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Vijay Shah { विजय } on Twitter LINK on Twitter LINK
“Une 40e de journalistes et artistes étrangers au Festival international kreol” – lexp Societe/, L’Express LINK
“Huge success for the 2012 edition of the International Kreol Festival” – MTPA Tourism Office/Mauritius Tourism Promotion Authority (27 November 2012) LINK
“A wild Success – Mari sa !” – Louis de Lamare, Festival International Créole LINK
“Festival International Kreol 2011: Grand concert au Domaine les Pailles.” – lexpressmu,YouTube GB LINK
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