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Pre-Independence

pre independence flagTake a look at the oldest World Map dated 1502 where Mauritius already appears, albeit under the Arabic name of Dinarobin, you will find little trace of North America and certainly no Australia either. The Arabs had discovered this island and used it as a shelter and a means of supply in fresh meat and water. The Portuguese, having discovered the secrets of Arab navigators rounded the Cape and followed their predecessors by landing on the island and calling it "Islo do Cirne" or Swan Island, in 1511. But, they did not build any permanent settlement there.

maroons attackTheir popularity urged their masters and authorities to offer prizes for their heads. It follows that Bellaca, one of the maroon leaders had taken 'possession' of Le Morne and between 1797 and 1802, a proclamation was issued by the Colonial Assembly which offered to liberate any slave and his family who would help arrest Bellaca. There are archival sources mentioning that Bellaca took possession of Le Morne Brabant between 1797 and 1802, but apparently, Bellaca was killed by Stalinas Cerf who resided in the Black River District.

maroon women capturedFirst and foremost maroonage was a man’s thing as men were more able to undergo the hardships of maroonage. On the other hand, maroons were more prone to getting stuck or lagging behind with women who might bear children and weaken the chances for survival as a group.

colonization dutchIt was the Dutch who built the first colony on the island and they gave it the name of Mauritius after their ruler, Prince Maurice of Nassau. It was in 1598, and soon the island became a thriving trading port as ebony trees were felled and shipped to Europe. For the Dutch, it was an ideal stop over linking their colonies of the Cape of Good Hope and Batavia (Indonesia). They would stop into Mauritius and then descend to the 40th parallel to catch the winds of the Roaring Forties before sailing up to their destination. It was during that period that Abel Tasman, left Mauritius to initially sail along the same route but with instructions to keep sailing eastwards instead of going up.