Mauritius celebrates Abolition of Slavery Day, or simply “Abolition Day” on 1 February. This looks back to the time in 1835 when slavery was abolished in Mauritius.
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Slavery came to Mauritius in the mid-1600’s with colonisation by the Netherlands. About 100 slaves from Madagascar were brought to Mauritius by the Dutch in the earliest days of colonisation, and many more followed. They were harshly treated, and whenever they rebelled, the punishment was extremely severe.
However, in the early 1700’s, the Netherlands gave up on its colony in Mauritius and abandoned it to the French. The new French rulers soon brought yet more slaves. In 1810, the British seized control of Mauritius, and already by that time, seven out of every 10 people in Mauritius were slaves.
Finally, on 1 February, 1835, slavery was abolished in Mauritius. The government paid the plantation owners to compensate them for their loss, but the decree to end slavery was not optional.
Today, Mauritius looks back to the end of slavery and all of the social and economic changes it brought with it. It was, in many respects, the beginning of “modern Mauritius”.