Le Morne Brabant is a mountain in the Indian Ocean, southwest of Mauritius. It was the refuge of the maroon slaves between the 18th and 19th centuries, where they gathered in caves and at the top of Le Morne. This place, nicknamed the “Republic of the Maroons”, is today a symbol of the suffering of slaves and their struggle for freedom.
The island was first populated by the Dutch in 1638, by a Dutch governor and about twenty families. At the end of the 17th century, 200 Dutch people lived on the island, with between 500 and 1,000 slaves from Madagascar, Africa, India, and Java. However, they abandoned the island in 1710 because it no longer offered enough resources, which were degraded by climatic conditions.
The French then took possession of the island and renamed it “Isle de France”. In 1721, fifteen settlers and a priest settled there. The island quickly prospered thanks to large sugar plantations administered by settlers from France and Bourbon island. In 1810, the island was taken over by the British and officially became part of the British Empire in 1814.
Classified as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO since 2008, Morne Brabant is a mountain in southwestern Mauritius that rises to 555 metres, whose inaccessible summit covers an area of more than 15 hectares and is home to unique endemic vegetation. The myth attached to the mountain refers to a collective suicide of brown slaves who took refuge on the top of the mountain during the colonial period. But the versions diverge over time.
The most widespread version is the one around 1835, the year of the abolition of slavery. A British troop had come to announce the news of the abolition of the brown slaves. But the latter, believing that they had been arrested, rushed into the void. Other versions prior to the abolition period already mention the presence of brown bands on the mountain or in the vicinity of the Morne Brabant. But in all versions, the maroons often chose death over enslavement.