Sega tambour Chagos


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Inscribed in 2019 (14.COM) on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding

© National Heritage Fund, Mauritius, 2018

Sega tambour Chagos is one of the types of Sega music of Mauritius, with origins in the Chagos Archipelago. Like other Sega music, it is born from slavery and sung in Chagossian Creole particular to the islands. Sega tambour Chagos is a gentle, vibrant and rhythmic performance of music, song and dance based on the ‘tambour’ – a large, circular instrument that is heated and then played to produce throbbing beats – which provides the basic rhythm. The lyrics consist of everyday experiences, often composed spontaneously, including narrations of sadness, happiness and rebellion. Sega tambour Chagos is also accompanied by traditional food and drink. Nowadays, new lyrics have been created associated with the nostalgic past and motherland, rooted in an experience of dislocation to ensure young people do not lose their roots and pride. However, despite efforts to safeguard the element, there are numerous threats to its viability. For example, while elder generations continue to perform the element in its traditional form, young people are moving towards other forms of music. One major threat is the passing away of elders familiar with the landscape associated with the practice. Equally, with their displacement to a new land, people have faced challenges such as poverty and a lack of community cohesiveness, leading to some loss of memory and interest in the practice.