Chagos Islands Culture
We had our own variety of music and traditional dance moves named the Sega, before being deported from the Chagos Islands to make way for the US Army.
Every Saturday night would bring with it, our organised traditional ‘Sega Ravanne’ in the yard. Using our handmade instruments like the ‘maravanne’(rattle), ‘moutia’ (hand drum), ‘ravanne’ (goatskin drum), triangle, empty bottles and anything else we could find, we would turn it into a good rhythm that night. The ladies would be singing with their amazing and powerful voices, whilst the men would be beating on the drums with tenacity. The children would frolic and dance away the night.
Saturday came to be symbolic for us. It was a way for all the Chagossians to gather and eat, drink and dance till the next morning as one big family. We would enjoy a fresh; very rich cuisine, including our famous ‘seraz’. We grew fruits and vegetables and reared animals, also manufacturing our own liquor. Our traditional rum ‘baka’ is very popular to this day. We were joyous and care-free.
The Catholic faith is predominant. The Catholic Church is profoundly rooted in Mauritius as well as in the United Kingdom. The Church of England and the Assemblies of God are also present in both Mauritius and the United Kingdom; our Christianity is a part of our community spirit. There are also a small number of Hindus within our community. Religion, respect of traditions and family are the pillars of the Chagossians lifestyle.
Chagossians shared the same languages of the Mauritians and Seychellois which is known as Kreol. One can easily differentiate us by our unique accent; which we naturally developed on our land. Mauritius and the Seychelles official language is English. Chagossians were bound to hear and to speak kreol (a mixture of French and varied African dialects) only due to lack of opportunity at the time to go to school.