Taste of the Mauritian Sega (Pronounced Saygah). The Sega is a dance
which originated from the ritual music of Madagascar and the mainland
of Africa, and it is the Musical Expression of the Mauritian Way of
Life: Joy, Carefree and Lively.
Originally sung by men and women who had been sold as slaves but whose
souls had remained sensitive to music, the Sega is nowadays a folksong
which has integrated itself within the framework of our folklore.
It is a cry from the soul trying to transcend the miseries and heartaches
of life, while at the same time expressing the universal human desire
for joy and happiness. It tells the joys and sorrows of the peasants
and the fishing folks. It is a nostalgic heritage of the villagers.
Its beats, gripping in intensity, now provide entertainment to Mauritians
of all walks of life in towns and villages. Today the Sega and its beat
are a part of every Mauritian's life.
to your favorite Sega Songs...
The original instruments are fast disappearing, making way for the more
conventional orchestra ensemble. However, all along the coastal fishing
villages the traditional instruments are still being used: The Ravane,
which is a wooden hoop over which has been stretched a piece of goat
skin; the Coco, (Maracas) which represents the percussion section; the
Triangle, a triangular piece of metal which tinkles when tapped with
an iron rod. The traditional guitar which was a single string instrument
with an arc attached to an empty "Calebasse", has been replaced
by the more sophisticated Hawaiian and electric guitar.
Stimulated and inspired by local rum, the fishing folks gather around
a camp fire and give full vent to their emotions. Very often they dance
without any music at all and are accompanied only by the sound of the
Ravane, the tinkling of spoons, the rattling of seeds in a tin, and
the clapping of hands of spectators who eventually join in the melee.
The dance itself is the rhythmic swaying of the hips to the pulsating
rhythm of the Ravane. It starts with a gentle swaying, to a slow and
solemn tune, which gradually rises, consuming the dancers and setting
their bodies jerking, stretching and swaying with animated movements
to keep pace with the ever-increasing tempo. The beat creeps inside
you and as your body responds to the rhythm, you are carried to heights
of ecstasy, generating a vibrating force that shakes the "lead"
off your feet and inspires you to a high-spirited and unrestrained way
of dancing. Tiring perhaps, but ex-hilarating! Never mind if your movement
does not follow the rhythm ... just carry on dancing and you will be
amazed how rhythm and movement synchronize afterwards.
A few hints for dancing the sega
The man usually stands in the dancing area with hands on the hips
waiting for the girl to shuffle towards him, wiggling, hip-balancing
and waving a colourful handkerchief invitingly. Then the partners
face each other with a waist-and-shoulder grasp and ... the improvisation
(i) Just let yourself go -- as long as you do not step on your partner's
(ii) When you hear "En Bas! En Bas!" (Down, Down) bend your
knees and lower your body gently downwards
while swaying your hips to the rhythm.
(iii) We do not advise the women to wear mini-skirts. A colourful
full- length patterned skirt and blouse is preferable.
(iv) Men are free in their choice of costumes. Open-neck or bushshirt
will do, but formal wear can be a handicap.
We do hope you will enjoy the Sega. The Sega is usually sung in Creole
(a pidgin french which everybody speaks on the island). We considered
giving you the English version of the music but we feel that by so
doing it will lose its local colour.