FANFAN: Pioneering Mauritian musician passes away

Pamplemousses – VIJAY SHAH via Mo Ti News

Louis Gabriel Joseph, one of the pioneers of the national music of Mauritius, has passed away aged 88 yesterday, local news site Mo Ti News reports. Known among his peers and generations of listeners as ‘Fanfan’, Joseph passed on from age-related issues at the Hospice Saint Jean de Dieu in the town of Pamplemousses, in the island’s north.

 

Fanfan was widely revered as one of the signature personalities behind the development of sega music as a popular genre from the 1940s until fairly recently. Sega is a musical style peculiar to Mauritius, sung in Mauritian Creole (Kreol, or simply Mauritian) to the beat of drums, triangles and more recently, keyboards and synthesizers. It was developed by people of mixed African and French origins, most descendants of slaves who used their heritage of African music to get over the drudgery of their lives and enjoy what little spare time they could get.

Joseph was a stalwart and proponent of ‘sega tipik’ (typical or traditional sega), which was in vogue until around the 1980s before it was usurped by other genres, many from outside the island.

During his career, which began after the Second World War, Joseph recorded fifty songs. He cut his first record, titled “Ma Bolema”, in 1949, and released his last production, “Kito Lev Néné”, fifty years later under the Ballerina Music label. Joseph considered himself a guardian of the traditional form of sega, a dying art now, and with contemporaries such as Serge Lebrasse and Ti Frère, tried to actively promote the cultural values of his country.

SOURCES:

Mo Ti News, Facebook, Facebook Inc. https://www.facebook.com/motinews/

“[Vidéo] Musique locale : Fanfan s’éteint à 88 ans” – Mo Ti News (18 August 2018) https://moti.news/video/video-musique-locale-fanfan-seteint-a-88-ans

“The Recording Industry in Mauritius” – Sabrina Quirin and In-House DRC, Music in Africa (30 September 2016) https://www.musicinafrica.net/magazine/recording-industry-mauritius

VIDEO CREDIT:

“Fanfan: «Mo dimann Dieu le Père ramass mwa»” – l’express, YouTube (via Mo Ti News) (28 July 2016) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MxMoPmS_dmI

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