If you want to learn about the history of Mauritius, then visiting Aapravasi Ghat is a must. Located in Port Louis, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is among the oldest surviving immigration depots associated with indenture.
Aapravasi Ghat was part of the ‘Great Experiment’ initiated by the British Government after the abolition of slavery in the British Empire in 1834. The ‘Great Experiment’ demonstrated the superiority of ‘free’ labour over slave labour in its plantation colonies. Aapravasi Ghat depicts the story of more than 462,000 indentured labourers coming mainly from India (97.5%) but also from China, the Comoros, Madagascar, Mozambique and South East Asia. They were recruited to work on the sugar plantations in Mauritius for a period of five years.
The success of the Mauritian experiment led to the migration of more than 2.2 million indentured labourers around the world, including the Caribbean, South America, the South Pacific and Southeast Asia, which represent not only the development of the modern system of contractual labour, but also the memories, traditions and values that these men, women and children carried with them.
Two-thirds of these indentured labourers remained permanently in Mauritius. The other third returned to their homeland or migrated to other lands. Approximately 70% of modern Mauritians are descendants of these indentured labourers.
These days, you can visit the partial remains of three stone buildings from the original Aapravasi Ghat, peruse documentation and artefacts including pipes and medicine, as well as watch a ten-minute film featuring the testimonials of the workers’ descendants.