Inscription of Mauritius’ Indenture Immigration Records on UNESCO’s Memory of the World Register
A plaque marking the inscription of the Indenture Immigration Records of the Republic of Mauritius on UNESCO’s Memory of the World International Register was unveiled last week by the Minister of Arts and Culture, Mr Santaram Baboo, at the Aapravasi Ghat World Heritage Site in Port-Louis.
The inscription of the Indenture Immigration Records of the Republic of Mauritius in the Register places Mauritius on the World Documentary Heritage Map, and will among others, lead to improved conservation of the documentary heritage; encourage its preservation and digitisation; and promote its dissemination by making the documents accessible to users.
The Indenture Immigration Records of the Republic of Mauritius, covering the period 1834 to 1930‟s, provide a unique and comprehensive documentation of the “Great Experiment” undertaken in Mauritius by the British, during the 19th Century.
In his address on the occasion, the Minister of Arts and Culture, Mr Santaram Baboo, emphasised the importance of the Indenture Immigration Records which bear testimony to the making of our history and to the arrival of almost half a million men, women, and children who consist more than 80% of our ancestors who passed through the Aapravasi Ghat World Heritage Site.
He further underlined that the Indenture Immigration Records should be preserved as they have an invaluable role to play in our history and are also considered as priceless assets adding that over the past 30 years or more, these records have played a key role for tens of thousands of Mauritians who have retraced their ancestry and origins.
Minister Baboo recalled the inscription of Aapravasi Ghat and Le Morne Cultural Landscape on the World Heritage List and the inscription of the Sega Tambour on the UNESCO Masterpieces of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity which he said shows the special place that Mauritius occupies in modern world history.
He also placed on record the election of Mauritius to form part on the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage of UNESCO, owing to the work achieved on the protection and preservation of the country’s cultural heritage and commitment to the registration of property, tangible and intangible, on the World Heritage list. According to him, this election is a success for Mauritius recognising culture and heritage as an example for regional, continental and Small Island States.
This recognition has also put the country on the international map of cultural heritage and international tourism as tourists and even Mauritians are more and more willing to discover and share our rich and diverse heritage, he concluded.
Aapravasi Ghat was inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List on 16 July 2006. It is among the oldest surviving immigration depots associated with indenture. This architectural ensemble stands for the “Great Experiment” initiated by the British Government to demonstrate the superiority of ‘free’ over slave labour after the abolition of slavery in the British Empire in 1834.
The Aapravasi Ghat symbolises the Great Experiment and the first large-scale use of indentured labour in the modern world. The World Heritage Site is associated with the story of more than 457,000 indentured labourers from China, the Comoros, India, Madagascar, Mozambique and South East Asia who were recruited to work on Mauritius’s sugar plantations between 1834 and 1910.