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Saturday, November 12, 2011

Mauritius : Le Morne Postcard

Le Morne Cultural Landscape, a rugged mountain that juts into the Indian Ocean in the southwest of Mauritius was used as a shelter by runaway slaves, maroons, through the 18th and early years of the 19th centuries. Protected by the mountain’s isolated, wooded and almost inaccessible cliffs, the escaped slaves formed small settlements in the caves and on the summit of Le Morne. The oral traditions associated with the maroons, have made Le Morne a symbol of the slaves’ fight for freedom, their suffering, and their sacrifice, all of which have relevance to the countries from which the slaves came - the African mainland, Madagascar, India, and South-east Asia. Indeed, Mauritius, an important stopover in the eastern slave trade, also came to be known as the “Maroon republic” because of the large number of escaped slaves who lived on Le Morne Mountain.


Le Morne Brabant is a peninsula at the extreme south-western tip of Mauritius and the most windward side of the island. It is highlighted by an eponymous single standing basaltic rock with a summit of 556 metres (1821 ft.) above sea level, the most imposing sight on Mauritius. The summit covers an area of more than 12 hectares. There are many overhanging caves on the steep slopes. It is surrounded by a lagoon and is a famous tourist attraction. It is also one of the last three refuges of one of the rarest plants in the world, the Mandrinette. Another rare plant which grows only on the sides of the mountain is Trochetia boutoniana.
This hill became well-known in the 19th century when runaway slaves used Le Morne Brabant as a hideaway. After the abolishment of slavery on Mauritius, a police expedition traveled to the rock on 1 February 1835 to tell the slaves that they are free people. However, the slaves misunderstood the expedition and jumped to death. Since then, this day is celebrated by Mauritian creoles as Annual Commemoration of the Abolition of Slavery.

The peninsula of Le Morne benefits from a micro-climate.

Le Morne Brabant Mountain was submitted to the candidate list of the World Heritage sites in 2003. In 2008, the nomination process concluded when UNESCO inscribed the site on the World Heritage List.

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