Abolition of Slavery Day, also known as Abolition Day and celebrated annually on February 1st, marks the end of slavery in Mauritius. In 1833, the British parliament passed the Slavery Abolition Act, which took effect in 1834, leading to the liberation of enslaved Africans in most of the British colonies across the Caribbean and South Africa. Mauritius, which was a British colony, officially abolished slavery in 1835, becoming the last colony to do so. The planters were compensated with 2 million pounds sterling for their loss of slaves. Eventually, Mauritius, which was originally colonized by the Netherlands, France, and Great Britain, gained independence in 1968.
History of Abolition of Slavery Day
Mauritius, a tropical island with a population of 1.2 million known for its luxury destinations and beautiful landscapes, beaches, lagoons, and reefs, has a complicated history involving slavery. The island's early history is poorly documented, with the earliest known dates shrouded in mystery. It was discovered by Arabs and Malays in 1507, before being visited by the Portuguese in 1510, who named it "Cirné." In the 1640s, the Dutch brought the first slaves to the island and named it after their head of state, Maurice, Prince of Orange. The Dutch treatment of slaves was harsh, and any resistance was met with dire consequences.
Abolition of Slavery Day timeline
Colonial administrator and explorer Pedro Mascarenhas discovers the island, as part of the Mascarene Islands, consisting of Mauritius (largest), Réunion, and Rodrigues.
The island is renamed Cirné, but the Portuguese do not settle there.
The Dutch Claim the Island] Wybrant van Warwijck, the first Dutchman to land on the island in 1598, renames the island in honor of their head of state, Maurice, Prince of Orange, and Count of Nassau.
The island, which become a French colony after the Dutch abandon it, is renamed ‘Ile de France’ under the French East India Company.
This is after defeating the French in battle at Cap Malheureux.
Under the treaty, Mauritius, Seychelles, and Rodrigues are confirmed to belong to Britain.
On August 1, the Slavery Abolition Act is passed by Britain, forbidding every form of slavery throughout its colonies.
Mauritius adopts the Indian rupee because the influx of the currency had already begun circulating throughout, resulting from immigration from India.
On March 12, following a series of Constitutional Review conferences between 1961 to 1965, Mauritius becomes an independent state within the Commonwealth.
Abolition of Slavery Day FAQs
When was slavery abolished in Mauritius?
In 1835, slavery was abolished in Mauritius by the British empire. However, before this, there was already an escalating discontentment about slavery globally.
Why was slavery abolished in Mauritius?
The decrease in global profits was a major factor in the abolition of slave trade as using paid labor became more cost-effective.
How is Abolition Of Slavery Day celebrated in Mauritius?
Although events are held throughout the country, commemorating freedom of slavery on ‘Abolition of Slavery’ day, February 1, many specifically gather at the foot of Le Morne mountain for festivities. Le Morne is said to be surrounded by caves, a secure hiding spot for fleeing slaves in the past.
How to Observe Abolition of Slavery Day
Lend your voice
Although slavery has been officially abolished, modern-day slavery is very prevalent; disguised in forms of forced labor, debt bondage, forced marriage, and human trafficking. Speak up against these vices and make the world a better, more secure, and happier place
Go down memory lane
With the abolition of the slave trade, the world was transformed. Celebrate the ushering of peace, unity, and equality the day brings by delving into history. Keep yourself abreast with your roots.
Join the conversation on social media
It's a significant holiday that binds us together. You could join in on social media conversations and updates using hashtags #SlaveTrade #AbolitionofSlaveryDay #InternationalDayfortheAbolitionofSlavery
5 Important Facts About Mauritius
Mauritius was colonized by different colonies
The island in question has a volcanic origin and has a rich history of colonization. It was first settled by the Netherlands, followed by France and then Great Britain. These colonial powers all left their mark on the island, shaping its culture and history. However, in 1968, the island gained independence and is now a sovereign nation.
Le Morne signifies freedom in Mauritius
Le Morne is a peninsula located at the very southwestern tip of an Indian Ocean island. Historically, it has played an important role in the island's past as it was a sanctuary for enslaved people who had escaped from their captors. The peninsula served as a symbol of freedom and hope for those who sought to escape the brutalities of slavery.
Mauritius derives its name from a prince
In 1598, a Dutch admiral by the name of Wybrand Van Warwijck was the first to set foot on an island located in the Indian Ocean. He named the island "Mauritius" in honor of Prince Maurice of Nassau, who was a ruler of the Dutch Republic at that time. The name "Mauritius" was chosen to pay homage to the prince, who was a respected leader and well-known figure in Dutch history.
The symbol of Mauritius
The dodo, a flightless bird and an iconic symbol of Mauritius, was once found exclusively on the island but became extinct in 1681 as a result of human activity.
Sugarcane is Mauritius’ main export
It takes up a large percentage of the island.
Why Abolition of Slavery Day is Important
It drives equality
It reminds us to fight against all forms of racism and discrimination. It also serves as a reminder of the importance of perseverance and the fight for freedom and basic human rights.
It preaches the need to speak up
It creates awareness about slavery, modern-day slavery, and its long-lasting impact on our world. It invites people to speak up about injustice by drawing attention to the injustice of the past.
Strengthens the fight
40 million people worldwide are victims of modern slavery, and delving down memory lane brings that fact to the fore, charging us to do better and be better as humans. Why not celebrate the day by learning more about modern-day slavery and what you can do to help?
Abolition of Slavery Day dates