|A Taste of Mauritian Sega|
The traditional guitar which was a single string instrument with an arc attached to an empty "Calebasse", has been replaced by the more sophisticated Hawaiian and electric guitar. Stimulated and inspired by local rum, the fishing folks gather around a camp fire and give full vent to their emotions. Very often they dance without any music at all and are accompanied only by the sound of the Ravane, the tinkling of spoons, the rattling of seeds in a tin, and the clapping of hands of spectators who eventually join in the melee.
The dance itself is the rhythmic swaying of the hips to the pulsating rhythm of the Ravane. It starts with a gentle swaying, to a slow and solemn tune, which gradually rises, consuming the dancers and setting their bodies jerking, stretching and swaying with animated movements to keep pace with the ever-increasing tempo.
The beat creeps inside you and as your body responds to the rhythm, you are carried to heights of ecstasy, generating a vibrating force that shakes the "lead" off your feet and inspires you to a high-spirited and unrestrained way of dancing. Tiring perhaps, but ex-hilarating! Never mind if your movement does not follow the rhythm ... just carry on dancing and you will be amazed how rhythm and movement synchronize afterwards.
Click on the title to play
Sega bello by Alain Permal
Alouda limonade by Cyril Labonne
Anglais ranne mo mari by Marie Josee Clency
Bouge bouger by Serge Lebrasse
Content mo to content toi by Jacques Cantin
Mama mo oule marier by Marie Josee Clency
Maman zordi mo aller by Serge Lebrasse
Moi mo ene ti Creole by Serge Lebrasse
Marsan pistasse by Serge Lebrasse
Mo jouer mo sega by Cyril Labonne
Paul eque Virginie by Jacques Cantin
Reprends mo mari Anglais by Marie Josee Clency
Jean Alphonse Ravaton, alias Ti Frere, was born on April 29th, 1900. His father was Madagascan ( Ravaton is a Madagascan surname) and a sega artist too, the art form being characteristically passed on from father to son, and groups often made up of members of the same family. A coachman to a well-to-do-family, his father not only performed the sega but also conducted a dance band, the kind prolific at the time with accordion, banjo, percussion, and sometimes violin. Such orchestras performed European dance repertoire like the "cottish", "mazok", "lavalse" and "quadrilles", dances which, although they have disappeared in Mauritius, are still popular on Rodrigues, the neighbouring island.
Ti Frere learnt to sing the sega and ballads too through accompanying his father. Later he would sing with his own dance band, playing especially for " zarico" (zíharicot) (bean) dances. "Zarico" dances were Saturday night country affairs put on in the courtyards of homes and during which a cake containing a bean was shared out: whoever got the bean had to put on the next Saturdayís dance. These dances would always finish with a few segas, something that still happens today at marriages or parties and that harkens back to the time when the sega, frowned upon and sometimes forbidden, was only danced as the night would close and restrictions eased up a little.
Link to Ti Frere