L'exode

Families on ferry
Several families are ferried to their waiting ship to take them to Australia, March 1968.
Source: Lindsay Harris

The mass exodus (l’exode) of Mauritians and Rodriguans was driven by political change occurring on the islands. During the 1950s and 1960s, many people disagreed over the future of Mauritius, which also encompassed the island of Rodrigues. Indo-Mauritian leaders favoured independence from Britain, while many Franco-Mauritians and Creoles wanted to remain a part of the British colony. For them, independence meant an end to British protection of minorities, and government by the Indian majority would threaten their social and economic position.

These polarised visions of the future led to violent clashes. A state of emergency was declared and British troops were commissioned to maintain order. In this period of fear, violence and economic instability, Mauritius gained its independence on 12 March 1968. This set off a series of panic-driven departures from the islands, with many Mauritians, mostly from the Franco-Mauritian and Creole communities, emigrating over the next few years to Australia and other countries. They continued to leave their homeland right up to the early 1980s.

Image Gallery

Place du Quai Independence Day 1968 Paruit family and friends