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The 1999 Mauritian Riots - The Impact of Kaya's Death


kaya's death, mauritian riots 1999

BACKGROUND

The 1999 Mauritian Riots took place across the whole country, following the death of seggae artist Kaya in police custody.


The riots, the largest to take place in the history of the island, lasted around 4 days between 21st-25th February in 1999. Hundreds were injured, and there was mass looting and damage to property.


What began as protests to show discontent towards the authorities later revealed deeper, underlying ethnic tensions.


WHO WAS KAYA AND WHAT WAS ‘MALAISE CREOLE’?

Kaya (born Joesph Réginald Topize) was a Mauritian musician, famous for pioneering the ‘seggae’ genre.


Kaya identified as a Rastafarian and was heavily influenced by Jamaican Reggae (his stage name was inspired by Bob Marley’s best-selling album, Kaya) but reggae itself did not completely fit his personal reality as a Mauritian artist. He began to fuse reggae with local Mauritian sega, creating a new form of Mauritian music called ‘seggae’. His songs focussed on Mauritian expression, roots, culture, and society.


He was from the predominately Creo