The guest presenter at our November meeting was Geo Fradgley, who kindly stepped in at the last minute when our booked talk on China was cancelled by the speaker.
The subject of Geo’s talk was the Republic of Mauritius, an island nation in the Indian Ocean off the S.E. coast of Africa. It was discovered in 1598 by the Dutch, who named it after their own head of state Maurice Prince of Orange.
Mauritius comprises of one main island and several small islets, and also lays claim to other island groups. The main island is about the size of the Isle of Wight, has a tropical climate and white, palm-fringed beaches, and is home to some of the world’s rarest plants and animals, but human habitation and the introduction of non-native species have threatened its indigenous flora and fauna.
An example of this is the famous Dodo, hunted to extinction in the 17th century by sailors whose ships plying the Spice Routes frequently stopped here to take on fresh water.
The population of 1.3 million is multicultural, consisting of Hindus, Muslims, Chinese, Malays, Africans, French, English and other Europeans, and their official language is English, but with a lot of Creole French too. These nationalities reflect those of Mauritius’ various invaders over centuries, some of whom decided to settle here.
Their clearing of the land to grow crops like tea and sugar cane wiped out much of the natural vegetation, and over-fishing of tuna around the coast has damaged the reefs and depleted fish stocks. There is a big conservation scheme on a neighbouring islet to re-introduce as much original flora and fauna as possible and to preserve it for the future, including colourful birds and exotic flowers as well as fruit bats and giant tortoises and snails.
Geo says it is a very relaxing place to visit, especially if you stay on the eastern side of the island, away from the capital Port Louis and all the busy tourist areas in the north and west. The people are very friendly and laid back, and by and large live in harmony with one another, whatever their race and culture.
Maybe we could take a leaf or two out of the Mauritians’ book…….?
Future meetings include our pre-Christmas meal at Acorn Village, an evening with the Phoenix Handbell Ringers and the Christmas Social in the Vine Lounge. If you would like to find out more, please visit the Join Us page on this website by clicking here.