Of Songs and Women

By Nita Chicooree-Mercier

In the sunny morning a Mauritian sega song fills the air at the colourful market by the seaside. ‘Mo tangalé fine aller, mo tangalé fine aller…’ It comes from the fruit vendor’s stall. The young man is dancing to the tune of the lively song while serving fruits with a broad smile on his face.

‘You look happy today. Do you know the name of the singer?’

‘I don’t know her name. I just love Mauritian songs,’ he answers. The song blares out from YouTube on his phone. ‘I can’t help dancing when I listen to the songs,’ he adds, and goes on swaying his hips and calling out to customers: ‘Mo tangalé fine allé, mo tangalé pa pou retourné…’

It is the powerful voice of a female singer, maybe Linzy Bacbotte or a remake version, a stirring voice reminiscent of Marie-Josée Clency’s, the queen of sega. Indeed, Mauritian sega is very popular in Réunion, Seychelles and elsewhere due to the talented singers, the originality of the lyrics, an artistic creativity which has flourished freely in independent Mauritius for decades.

Political emancipation has had a positive psychological impact on folks; it has created a proper environment for self-expression despite the economic hardships the population put up with in the first two decades since independence. Singers have made the best of that freedom, unrelentlessly coming up with new lively songs depicting different facets of everyday life experiences in colourful language.

Barring rare incidents of censorship, sega singers have enjoyed total freedom in Mauritius at a time when their counterparts in Réunion were staggering through the French cultural assimilation process, Seychelles’ authoritarian government kept a suspicious Big Brother eye on free speech much as dictatorial regimes in Jamaica and Barbados.

Mo tangalé fine allé…‘ is most probably of Mozambican origin just as the character of the Lakasunga figure in Zulu legends in South Africa. ‘Mo tangalé pa pou retourné…’ is a joyful rendering of a lover parting with a girl, an antithesis of the heart-broken damsel pining for the heartless young man who dumps her. No wailing, no tears, a farewell song to the lover, this is the first impression the song conveys. It recalls one of Marie-Josée’s songs which invites the English to take back her husband ‘Repran mo mari anglé’. Read More… Become a Subscriber



Mauritius Times ePaper Friday 26 August 2022

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