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Report: Culture

Triton’s creole blues calls for Unity

Bwongwongwong

Mauritian bluesman, Eric Triton, scratches the surface of the idealistically portrayed rainbow island of Mauritius. His soulful songs call for unity and often blame politicians for communal rifts. Despite being vocal about the wrongs of the island, he is firmly convinced that Mauritius is the world’s “beacon of light” for tolerance.

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Eric Triton, born in Mauritius, probably started stringing a guitar with his left hand, even before tottering around Cité Père Laval.

His deep, soulful voice is instantly recognised by all Mauritians and foreign fans. Triton has been playing music and collecting guitars for some 30 years, playing Creole blues in Africa, Europe and, of course, his native Indian Ocean island.

Eric Triton has released three albums: Blues dan moi in 1999, Nation in 2004 (produced by Universal) and Tritonik Project One in 2012. He is currently working on his next album: a DVD – De Triton à Tritonik – about his artistic journey will be released in June this year.

Since December 2012, he also hosts two exciting radio shows at the public Mauritian Broadcasting Coorporation (MBC): one about the life of jazz musicians and the other devoted to interviews of local artists. The shows are deliberately in Creole in order to share his passion with an audience that would not otherwise tune in to culture programmes in English or French.

Talking to RFI in his Quatre-Bornes hometown, Triton scratches the surface of the idealistically portrayed rainbow island. Firmly convinced that his songs are meant to create awareness about the problems plaguing the island, Triton nonetheless shares his pride in being Mauritian.

Triton has much to say about the local politicians and how they spend taxpayers’ money. “I respect religion and believe faith is a personal affair. However, spending taxpayers’ money on religious festivities in the name of promoting culture or preserving cultural heritage is simply wrong!” Triton says it matches the aim of politicians to divide and rule, while striving to reap votes in the process.

“Culture is something that we share together, we eat the same food – chinese food, Creole food, Indian food – we walk on the same streets and travel in the same buses. And for me it is important to care about what we do together everyday.”

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The eighty million year old Mauritius Island has no indigenous population. Europeans came mainly from France and Britain to colonise the island, while slaves came from Africa and Madagascar. The island was also drew people from China and India. After centuries of cohabitation, a melting pot was born. “My grandmothers are from India and China," says Triton. "My grandfathers are of African descent and I am 100 percent Mauritian and proud of that mixture. I can’t be Indian, or Chinese or African.”

“Unity is my mission,” says Triton. "Music is my religion and it is the best support to spread messages of hope and create awareness about what is going on.” He is very critical of the currently popular tempo, be it in sega (the local musical genre) or elsewhere, which have no interest in conveying a message.

“Mauritius Island is very small and we have some very rich people. I cannot understand why we can’t resolve our problems.”

Triton has widely traveled Africa, mainly the eastern and southern parts of the continent. “Pfff, no, no, no, our situation is not as bad as theirs,” says Triton. "Especially Burundi," he adds.

“Mauritius can be that little light that the whole world will come and see and use as an example, and say wow, they can work together, this is magic! Something like world music, you know.” As if echoing his hopes, during his recent visit to India with his band for a series of concerts, the newspapers wrote that Mauritius is the link between Africa and India. “I was so proud to read this.”

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