The Sega is a part of Mauritian culture that we simply adore. It’s our own unique music and dance that’s super energetic, sexy and tons of fun to try. When you visit Mauritius, you definitely have to check it out. Read on to find out all you need to know about the Sega:
The History of the Sega
The heavy African influence in Mauritian music stems from former slaves who used song and dance to tell stories. It had a link to magic, too, which is pretty cool.
Historians say the original Sega songs were used in sacred rituals, like celebrating a birth. The songs later became a part of village traditions, describing life’s joy and pain.
The sensual nature of the rhythms combined with colorful* lyrics made sure the Sega was generally banned until maybe 50 years ago, when it mingled with European music to create a ‘cleaner’ version.
The Sega is sung in Mauritian Creole, not English. The play on words and the double-entendres work perfectly in our local dialect.
What Exactly Is the Sega?
It’s a little hard to describe the Sega without making comparisons. Reggae would probably be the closest example of familiar music. But the Sega is quite unique.
For instance, the musicians create rhythms by tapping a small goatskin drum (a ravanne), pinging a triangle or swishing a hanging sugarcane rattle (a maravane) to accompany the singing.
The lyrics focus on life: joy, passion or difficulties. They can be improvised on the spot, with a repeated chorus between the lead singer and the audience.*
How Do You Dance the Sega?
Michel Legris – Dalma Dalma
Most Mauritians would simply smile at you and say: ‘How you feel the rhythm-!’ While that’s easy enough to say, there are a few tips we can give you for Sega dancing:
- Couples face each other and match their rhythms (without touching). It can be quite a sexy dance.
- Dancers take short side steps while moving their hips. When the musicians call out ‘Ea bas! Ea bas!,’ that’s your cue to bend your knees and shimmy down low.
- Other men can dance in between a couple, which is called ‘cutting.’
- Whenever you’re in doubt, just follow your gut and have fun!
We hope you’ve enjoyed discovering the Mauritian Sega. If you visit, you should definitely check out a performance or give it a go yourself! It’s one-of-a-kind and we’re more than a little proud of our musical heritage.
Have you ever seen the Sega performed, or tried it yourself? Any tips to add? We’d love to hear from you! Let us know in the comments below!