Abolition of Slavery Day in Mauritius

  • Fête De L'abolition De L'esclavage à L'île Maurice

The chains of slavery were broken, a decision taken in 1835 by the British colonial power under the Slavery Abolition Act of 1833. It will mark a turning point in the history and future of Mauritius.

The island was first populated by the Dutch in 1638 by a Dutch governor and about twenty families. At the end of the 17th century, 200 Dutch people lived on the island, with between 500 and 1,000 slaves from Madagascar, Africa, India and Java. However, they abandoned the island in 1710 because it no longer offered enough resources, which were degraded by climatic conditions.

The French then took possession of the island and renamed it “Isle de France”. In 1721, fifteen colonists and a priest settled there. The island quickly prospered thanks to large sugar plantations administered by settlers from France and Bourbon Island.

Fête De L'abolition De L'esclavage à L'île Maurice

When the British took control of the island in 1810, slaves represented about 80% of the island’s population, most of them coming from Madagascar and East Africa. Slavery had been abolished in the British Empire in August 1834, but it took several months before Mauritius did the same on 1 February 1835, becoming the last of the British colonies to abolish slavery.

Following the passage of the Slavery Abolition Act in 1833 by the British Parliament, and after the reluctance of slave owners had been overcome by the introduction of the apprenticeship system, Mauritius became the last of the British colonies to abolish slavery. Slavery abolition was abolished in Mauritius in 1835 by the British regime.

Inscribed on the World Heritage List by UNESCO in 2008, the mountain of Morne Brabant and its surroundings represent the symbol of the struggle and resistance of the maroons (runaway slaves) in Mauritius. The apprenticeship system prescribed that slaves had to continue working for their owners as apprentices for a few more years, after which they were emancipated and the owners were subsequently compensated.

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