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Franco-Mauritians are people of French origin who reside in Mauritiusmarker. They number more than 24,000.

Origins

The first Franco-Mauritians arrived to colonise Mauritius after the Portuguese and Dutch abandoned the islands. They set up sugarcane plantations, then imported slaves from Africa and Madagascar to work for them. They soon became the richest ethnic group in Mauritius. After the British took over Mauritius, the Franco-Mauritians were allowed to retain their language and customs. Although there are a minority of individuals amongst Creoles that have both French and Afro-Malagasy origins, they do not identify themselves as Franco-Mauritian.

Social status, education and wealth

Franco-Mauritians have always been potential employers for all citizens because they create many more jobs than there are Franco-Mauritians. However, Franco-Mauritians have an advantage: Franco-Mauritian businessmen, when asked about employing their own kind in upper management positions, often refer to the benefit of a shared culture and an inherent trust emanating from familiarity with the employee’s family.

Consequently, Franco-Mauritians have had an historic inside track to management positions. But owing to a nationwide focus on merit and a higher education standard, more and more Mauritians occupy positions previously reserved for Franco-Mauritians. During much of the colonial period Franco-Mauritians had the advantage of a quality education because they could afford to send their children to school. In the early 20th century, other ethnic groups began vying for enrolment in the country’s most prestigious school, the Royal College in Curepipe. In response, many elites transferred their children to Catholic missionary schools, the best of which were dominated by Franco-Mauritian pupils. But the state gained control over these schools, so when competition for enrolment increased in the 1970s, Franco-Mauritians were forced to compete for admittance with all Mauritians based on merit alone. Yet again the elite anticipated this, and today the majority of their children attend a small number of French private schools, which are known for providing a quality education and, despite English being the country’s official language, many other Mauritians also attend. Because Franco-Mauritians have manoeuvred so well, securing the education necessary to maintain their privileged place in the labour market, others continue to perceive them as elite managers who favour kinship ties over merit when it comes to hiring. In spite of some changes, this perception is not far off from reality. On average, the Franco-Mauritian community is indeed well off, and when told this its members often defensively point to poverty in their own community, but it is hardly comparable to that of the country’s other communities. Besides, those they point to tend to receive financial aid from wealthy fellow Franco-Mauritians(Whole paragraph taken from "Still standing, the maintenance of a white elite in Mauritius" by Tijo Salverda PhD )

The Franco-Mauritians have remained the wealthiest population on the island, despite the Indo-Mauritian majority. The majority are still screened off from the general population, living in large house or mansions in the upper plateau, that is the Plaines-Wilhems and the Moka districts. However, there are now many middle-class Franco-Mauritians all over Mauritius.

Culture and Marriage

Marriage is at the core of any minority’s capability to maintain a distinguished group profile in a multi-ethnic society. Clearly, for Franco-Mauritians, marrying outside the community has never been well perceived and has often led to disinheritance and virtual banishment. Skin colour was once the predominant marker of group identity and corresponded largely with class boundaries, thus marrying outside the community was considered marrying down. This hasn’t always reflected reality owing to island-wide social stratification, but Franco-Mauritian endogamy is persistent – though marrying white foreigners is not considered a breach – because it still pays to be part of the Franco-Mauritian community. By marrying ‘white’ you keep your stake in the island’s richest economic network and increase your chances for a prosperous life. Because love does not always conform to economic reasoning, marrying outside the community is not completely unheard of. Furthermore, Franco-Mauritians are more conscious today of the racist connotations of their marriage politics and defend their marriage patterns by instead referring to class, which in theory leaves open the choice to marry ‘outside’ . In practice, however, it is still an anomaly, and not only because of the economic aspect. Love simply does not easily find its way outside the Franco-Mauritian community. Social life is strictly organised. For example, the community maintains several white-only sport and social clubs, like the Dodo Club. The national rugby team is virtually all-white, as the only islanders playing the sport are members of Franco-Mauritian clubs. A nightclub catering to Franco-Mauritian youngsters tends to refuse entrance to anyone else. In these ways, the ‘irrational’ facet of partner choice is eliminated by the limits of social life: the elite tend to date the elite. This guarantees ethnic separation and intensifies the high visibility of whiteness in an overwhelmingly non-white society which creates other problems.(Whole paragraph taken from "Still standing, the maintenance of a white elite in Mauritius" by Tijo Salverda PhD )

Demographic factors

Most Franco-Mauritians are Roman Catholics.

However, an increasing number of the baby-boomers have drifted away from the religion which it perceives to be intransigent and inflexible to the reality of a changing world.

Notable Franco-Mauritians



References



See also




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