If there is one form of artistic expression that captures the essence of Mauritian history, it is Sega. Both a style of music and dance, Sega evolved through a fusion of the different cultures living on the island. While its exact origins are unknown, many believe Sega came primarily from the roots of East African and Malagasy (those from Madagascar) slaves living in Mauritius during 18th century. These African music and dance styles mixed with the European musical styles, like polka and waltz.
The language of Sega music is also the result of the island’s diverse past. A mixture of French and various African languages, Mauritian Creole developed as a way for slaves who spoke different languages to communicate. Eventually, Mauritian Creole made its way into the country’s music. The earliest Sega songs consist of hardship and longing for freedom.
Although some of the European settlers once looked down upon Sega because they considered it the music of the slaves, it has since grown to become the national dance and music of Mauritius. There are now two versions of modern Sega. Sega Salon is danced in the home and improvised, much like the traditional Sega was. Sega Touristear is a more formal style, mainly done as a performance and popular as entertainment for tourists. This version is extremely expressive and typically depicts the courtship of a man and woman. Watching it live, you definitely get the message! The dancers flirt with one another, using every limb to tell their story.