Rewriting our History – First Chinese in Mauritius

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Up to now, it was widely believed that the first Chinese to Mauritius landed from the ‘Haes’ on 1 May 1654. However, new research, by Joël Edouard from the University of Mauritius, seems to indicate that a certain Chinese, recorded in the Dutch language as “Bunckij”, might have reached the shores of Mauritius earlier in 1650. For some reason, Bunckij (pronounced Bunckai) was banished from Batavia (Jakarta) and sent into exile to Mauritius.

Now, how did a Chinese, of all places from Indonesia, end up in Mauritius? First of all, Chinese presence in Indonesia dates as far back as the 13th century. Moreover, Jakarta, Mauritius and Cape Town were key ports along a strategic maritime route linking Asia with Europe.

Furthermore, it is worth noting that the Dutch were among the first to use and systematize convict labour, which is often overlooked compared to slave and indentured labour. We can bet that for Bunckij, “Maurice, c’est un plaisir” was a far removed and foreign notion at that time.

This key finding has the potential to rewrite the history of Mauritius. Therefore, I would like to express my deepest appreciation to researcher and historian Joël Edouard for sharing his findings as he combs through the archives of the VOC.

Kwang Poon

 

Related Links

  1. S.J. Edouard MA (Joël) – Radboud University (ru.nl)
  2. Présence hollandaise à Maurice (1598-1710) – Bodha: « Une porte qui s’ouvre sur une partie méconnue, mais capitale » (lemauricien.com)

 


About Madeleine of La Hausse de la Louviere, Quatre Bornes

My father, Edwin John Stowers (John) was in the navy based in Mauritius during part of World War II. Whilst there he was friends with a girl named Madeleine who lived at La Hausse de la Louviere, Avenue Belle Rose, Quatre Bornes.

My father had a miniature portrait of her painted on bone with her address on the back. I now have this miniature portrait and would like to pass it on to one of her family if any could be found.

I wondered if you could put something in your paper which might bring one of her descendants forward so that I could return the portrait to them, should they wish. Unfortunately I don’t know her family name and my father died long ago.

Karen Miller
UK

 Email – karengstowers@aol.com


* Published in print edition on 28 May 2021

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