4 February 2019

Mauritius: Abolition of Slavery - Le Morne Symbol of Suffering Endured By Slaves, Their Fight for Freedom and Sacrifice, Says Prime Minister

press release

'Le Morne is the symbol of the suffering endured by slaves, their fight for freedom and their sacrifice. Our ancestors have come from different countries and have lived in extreme conditions where they have shed their sweat and blood so as to make the Republic of Mauritius stand where it is today. We share the same destiny and as one nation we have to walk hand in hand for the advancement of Mauritius'.

This statement was made today by the Prime Minister, Minister of Home Affairs, External Communications and National Development Unit, Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Mr Pravind Kumar Jugnauth. He was speaking at the Official Ceremony commemorating the 184th Anniversary of the Abolition of Slavery held at Le Morne Village. The Official Ceremony was preceded by a Wreath Laying Ceremony at the International Slave Route Monument.

The President of the Republic of Mozambique, Mr Filipe Jacinto Nyusi, currently on a State Visit to Mauritius was the Chief Guest of the Government for the event. The Mozambican President is accompanied by his spouse, Dr Isaura Gonçalo Ferrão Nyusi, and an official delegation comprising 25 members. Several Ministers, member of the diplomatic corps and other personalities were present on that occasion.

In his keynote address, the Prime Minister recalled that Le Morne is a historic location declared world heritage site by the UNESCO in 2008, and is the ideal site to pay homage to the victims of slavery. Le Morne was a fortress for runaway slaves and it is good to remember that the Slave Route includes Le Morne as a stopover whereby a garden has been created and a construction Monument set up, he indicated.

The Prime Minister pointed out that there are other stopovers on the Slave Route in countries such as Benin, Reunion, Madagascar, Senegal, India, Haiti and Mozambique. On that note, he thanked the President of Mozambique for his presence and participation in the commemoration of the Abolition of Slavery this year in Mauritius.

Mr Jugnauth recalled that Mauritius and Mozambique share a common cultural heritage and history, and in 1835, when slavery was abolished in Mauritius, around 60% people who were registered as slaves originated from Mozambique. Mozambique-Mauritius ties date as far back as the French colonial days when the Code Noir which regulated slavery in French colonies had categorised slaves as furniture, he said.

According to the Prime Minister, it is our duty to remember all the pain undergone by slaves and it is this duty of memory that had paved the way to the announcement of a budgetary measure with regards to a project for the construction of an intercontinental museum of slavery in Port Louis. The museum will be constructed in the building which was used during the French colonisation period as a military hospital, he stated.

The Government, emphasised Prime Minister Jugnauth, considers the implementation of this project a priority because we need to always remember the contribution of slaves in the development of Mauritius. Slaves had contributed in plantations, road constructions and that of buildings and other infrastructural projects and have also put in their talent and courage at the service of all activity fields and Mauritius has been able to construct its economy on solid foundations due to these contributions, he said.

Moreover, the Prime Minister highlighted that even if colonial power had no consideration for slaves, Mauritians know how much the slaves had contributed to the enrichment of our national culture. This includes the creation of a language, the Creole

language, which today is a means of communication for our population and is the maternal tongue for more than 90% of Mauritians and represents the symbol of our national identity, he indicated.

Speaking about Government's priority, the Prime Minister stated that it is urgent to eradicate absolute poverty, bring about a development process that takes on board all people and enhance the welfare of all citizens. At a time when our country is commemorating the Abolition of slavery it is good that we all take up the commitment to fight against discrimination, exclusion and inequality, he emphasised.

President Nyusi, for his part, said that Mauritius and Mozambique are two States that share a sad history of slavery and slaves' traffic. He expressed humility to be present at an event commemorating such a sad and humiliating fact which was slavery and slaves' traffic.

According to the Mozambican Head of State, both Mauritius and Mozambique have in common a past of being not only two colonised countries but also that of a chapter of heroic and glorious resistance and a rich cultural diversity which has transformed the two States in multi-ethnic societies. There is a large number of people from Mozambique who have chosen Mauritius as a second homeland, the land of their ancestors, and these are the factors that have shaped our friendly, social and excellent diplomatic and political ties, he added.

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