Updated: Jan 11
Yearning to find the tie to India
The Beginning: Abolition Of Slavery
Slavery was abolished by the British in 1833. Labor was badly needed in the colonies. Indentured labourers were therefore imported from India to the British colonies mainly, from 1830's to 1917. More than 450,000 Indians ended up in Mauritius on a 5 year contract to work in the sugar cane fields. Some of them came alone as teenagers. Others came as families. Most of them were trying to escape poverty and famine. It took up to two months to travel to that tiny little island of the Indian Ocean. The travel conditions were very poor. Some of them would die during the trip but most of them survived. Among those are my ancestors of both of my parents.
A New Life in Mauritius
Life was very hard for these people. Working from morning until dawn.
Food was rationed. They lived in camps. I often wonder what their evenings were like. I believe that a lot of that evening time was spent thinking about how the rest of the family was doing back in India and telling stories to their children about their native land. Despite the hardships and pain, most of them decided to stay and never went back to India. Their ultimate goal was to make sure that their children and descendants would have a better life. Their sacrifice for me cannot be forgotten!!
A Yearning to Reconnect to India
I knew that I was of Indian descent and my mother had done a lot of genealogy. A few years ago, I went through the records. With more research, I was able to find almost a dozen photos of my indentured ancestors at the Mahatma Gandhi Institute Archives in Mauritius. I learned a lot about one of my direct ancestors, Minchee, coolie number 289080. In 1862, she came to Mauritius with her parents at the age of 4 years. Her dad died when she was 12 and she herself passed away in her 30's. Before she died, she had a daughter, who turned out to be my grandmother's maternal grandmother. Since then, I have worked hard to learn more about my ancestors. Maybe one day, I will get to reconnect with those who stayed back in India!