In the 17th century, slaves were deported from Africa, Madagascar and the pristine islands of Mauritius, Réunion and the Seychelles in the South Western corner of the Indian Ocean to work on coffee and sugar cane plantations. They gathered secretly to escape their daily woes by singing, dancing and beating rhythms. This gave birth to the Afro-Malagasy-inspired sega, or (t)chega music.
During the course of the 19th century, the Creole population’s gradual adoption of Western instruments and traditional melodies of old Europe (quadrille, waltz, polka, schottische, romance, mazurka) together with the cultural impact of hired workers from India, laid the foundation for contemporary sega. This crossroads of influences kept expanding, especially in the 50s, when the first gramophones hit the market and all sorts of records were played, from pop to jazz, soul, rock and roll, and even Cuban and Brazilian music. For sega music, this hailed the beginning of an intense period of creativity which would linger on into the 60s and 70s when amplified instruments appeared and violins and accordions were replaced by electric guitars, bass guitars, drums and keyboards.
Record production boomed, an abundance of micro-record labels emerged and immensely talented arrangers honed their skills. These included Marclaine Antoine, Gerard Cimiotti, Eric Nelson, Claude Vinh San and Narmine Ducap, who went on to explore the many facets of sega. Psychedelic keyboards, fuzz guitars and bouncy bass lines came to complement the manic ternary polyrhythms of drums, ravannes, bongos, claves, triangles and maracas, and created a unique style. FolkWelt and Bongo Joe Records have carefully selected and compiled some gems from this golden age of sega from Mauritius, the Seychelles and Reunion.