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MAURITIUS EXPLORE
» 30 Mar 2017
AAPRAVASI GHAT

From 1834 to 1910, Mauritius received the greatest number of indentured labourers thus preceding Guyana, South Africa, Trinidad, Cuba, Peru and Reunion Island.
THE INDENTURE PERIOD IN MAURITIUS (1834-1910)
The British Parliament’s decision to abolish slavery in its colonies in 1833 led to the setting up of a new system of recruitment called indenture. An indentured labourer was a free man or woman who signed a contract to work away from his/her homeland for an employer for a specified period of time, generally for five years. Labourers’ contracts specified their terms of employment and outlined their general standard of living, wage rate, working hours, type of work, rations, housing and medical care.
Indentured labour was regulated by laws restricting the rights of the labourers. In Mauritius, for example, indentured labourers could be fined or temporarily imprisoned for a short period when they refused to work or when they were sanctioned for misconduct (defined as disobeying orders or being absent from work without permission) or when they terminated their contract before it had expired.
In Mauritius, even before the abolition of slavery on 1st February 1835, planters called for labourers as the sugar industry expanded rapidly.
The British colonial Government wanted to evaluate the viability of this new recruitment system. The “Great Experiment” was launched in Mauritius which as a test case, received the first indentured labourers. The Great Experiment officially started when the Atlas arrived from India with 36 indentured labourers on board on 2 November 1834.
Indentured immigration declined as from 1870s and came to a formal end in 1910.
THE ROLE OF THE IMMIGRATION DEPOT
Aapravasi Ghat Immigration Depot was constructed in Port Louis, the capital city of Mauritius by the British colonial Government in 1849 to receive indentured labourers. At Aapravasi Ghat, the indentured immigrants stayed two days to proceed to sanitary control and administrative procedures preceding their allocation to an employment mainly on the island’s sugar estates.
The depot was enlarged in the 1850s and 1860s to receive the increasing flow of immigrants. By 1860, the immigration depot was extended to a carrying capacity of 600 immigrants. Some days, the depot could house up to 1,000 labourers.
From 1849 to 1910, the Aapravasi Ghat played a central role in the day-to-day functioning of the indenture labour system and in the lives of these immigrants and their descendants in Mauritius.
The role of Aapravasi Ghat immigration office was to:
•    Receive newly arrived labourers
•    Perform sanitary control
•    Register immigrants and time-expired labourers
•    Deliver tickets and passes to immigrants
•    Allocate labourers to sugar estates or public construction projects
•    Supervise the return of migrants
•    Receive vagrants
•    Receive immigrants’ payment of taxes
•    Deliver immigrants’ marriage certificates
•    Record the purchase of land by immigrants
•    Inspect the estates on which indentured labourers worked
ORIGINS OF IMMIGRANTS
The majority of Indentured Labourers came from India but they also came from China, South East Asia, Madagascar and East Africa.
Malagasy, Comorian and Chinese labourers were introduced when the British government of India suspended immigration to Mauritius from 1839 to 1842, and also between 1855 and 1860, when the demand for workers was exceptionally high.
YOUR VISIT
Open Monday to Friday from 9.00 to 16.00
Open on Saturdays from 09.00 hrs to 12.00
Closed on Sundays and Public Holidays
ENTRANCE IS FREE OF CHARGE
Guided visits of the World Heritage Site (20 mins) and of the Interpretation Centre (30 mins) are available for groups on booking on 217 77 70.
ACTIVITIES FOR YOUNG VISITORS
Throughout the year, the Centre proposes educational activities (45 mins) for children between 3 years old and 14 years old. The following activities are available on booking on 217 77 70:
•    The history of ceramics from the Neolithic period to modern times;
•    Techniques of heritage restoration;
•    Storytelling for 3 to 6 yrs old children.

Address
Aapravasi Ghat World Heritage Site
Quay Street,
Port Louis
Mauritius
Telephone: (+230) 217 77 70
Email : outreach.agtf@intnet.mu
Website: www.aapravasighat.org

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