Located at the southwestern coast of Mauritius, this mountain is held close to the heart of Mauritians because of the formidable tale attached to it.
Le Morne Brabant has been registered as a UNESCO world heritage site in 2008 because of this very story.
For those who are unaware, our ancestors were brought to Mauritius as slaves and indentured labourers from Africa, India and China. Centuries ago, some of the slaves evaded capture and hid in Le Morne Brabant for days. After the abolition of slavery, On February 01, 1835, some soldiers and police went in search of these slaves to inform them that they were free men and women. The slaves misinterpreted the arrival of the police and were terrified of the idea of being caught by their ruthless masters. They jumped from the top of the mountain, choosing to be dead and free rather than being alive and owned. As a tribute to them, a cross has been built on the public beach situated at the foot of the mountain.
Le Morne Brabant is only 555m above sea level and it takes about 1 hour and 30 minutes to get to the summit. However, the steepness and loose gravels on the way up to, add a little spice to the difficulty level of the climb. For these reasons, the trail is closed during rainy days.
The views on the blue lagoon throughout the climb can only be described as picturesque. I climbed this mountain in summer when it was about 32°C. When we would get tired, the thought of how our ancestors went through this path barefoot, without food or even a single drop of water kept us going. I remember how other hikers got discouraged about halfway up and went back saying that the descent will be more challenging as it was about to rain. However, when hiking and travelling, it is more reliable to trust your instinct than following others.
We continued our way up and the satisfaction of reaching the top of the summit despite all the challenges we faced from the start of the journey, was fulfilling. Just like the slaves won over their masters, we won over our fears and doubt.
A true feeling of victory.
The cross is often a religious symbol but the one at the top of the summit is a sign of recognition for the choice of freedom made by the slaves. Though many would find it controversial and offending, I climbed the cross to express the respect I have for my ancestors. As I stood there with my hands stretched out, the winds blowing all around gave me a sense of freedom and joy. The freedom to be true to yourself, despite others trying to impose their thoughts and beliefs on you. The joy of reaching your final destination. Maybe that’s how my ancestors too, felt in that moment when they jumped.