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» 01 May 2011

As far back as 1768, tales of an entrancing dance composed of undulating bodies and a beat infused with passion and speed were counted by the travellers coming to Mauritius. The dance was special and inspiring to artists such as Rousselin who tried to capture it through paintings. Indeed the sega was born. Introduced by African slaves who used this
form of dance as an escape from their daily turmoil and to relieve their lost homelands, the sega is now the national dance and musical form of Mauritius. The dance is both exotic
and sensual with women in colourful skirts twirling around in circular motions with graceful hand and arm motions whilst their feet shuffle along the ground.

The Beat

The beat that creeps inside you is captivating and enthralling! You shouldn’t be surprised if you find yourself tapping your foot and clapping hands while the sega dancers twirl around
you and sing with such passion and rhythmic beats. The beats used for sega dance can be slow but most of the time start off as moderate and then reach a heightened peak of almost ecstatic rhythm. Once you practise the dance enough and get the hang of it, you will be carried into the beat as your body responds to the music. The secret is to be unrestrained and let go of everything while you dance.

The Instruments

The instruments behind this infusing beat are traditional ones such as the Ravane which is a wooden hoop with a stretched goat skin (similar to a drum but very flat). The Ravane is often heated over a bonfire and this makes the sound that emanates from it clearer. Another one is the Maravane which represents the percussion. The triangle is composed of a triangular metal which when struck with an iron rod, creates a ‘Ting’ sound. Traditionally the guitar was made of a ‘calebasse’ to which a string was tied
but this has now been replaced by the modern electric guitar.

The Sega through the ages till today

The sega has evolved over the years. Some of the sega songs are slow and have a sad note, others are extremely enthralling. Popular groups and singers of the past are Ti Frère and Serge Lebrasse. The meaning of some of their songs is profound and still has tinges of the independence and work in the sugar cane fields etc.. As the yearswent by, sega lyrics got filled with connotations and teasing words, most often sexual. Some sega groups and singers that have enchanted many are Cassiya, Linzy Bacbotte, Claudio, Nitish Joganah, Denis Azor and many more.

Over the past 20 years, Mauritian music has known some kind revolution with reggae music and out of this merge has emanated the seggae. The pioneer of seggae is Kaya (Joseph Reginald Topize) and his group Racinetatane. This form of music gathered popularity with the Rastafarians and Kaya used to sing messages of hope and faith for
the poorest Mauritians. He is now unfortunately no more but has inspired and given solace to many. Often on Sunday evenings especially, by the beach, families and friends sing and dance the sega. They will replace triangles by glass bottles and utensils and will improvise something close to the sega beat. A bottle of rum is all it takes to get them going!

During sports meetings and often for elections, people come up with sega songs
to express their feelings through satirical lyrics and expressions. Sega is one of the
most expressive forms of music. It expresses passionate feelings, hence the passionate dance.

Let yourself groove to the sega music during your stay. Consult our list of hotels and
contact them to find out when they hold sega nights. They will be happy to assist. Mauritians are proud of their national dance. Foreigners are often welcomed to join in and learn the dance steps. Enjoy the Sega!

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