Unshackling Slaves: Liberation and Adaptation of Ex-Apprentices
The 1st April 1839 was a momentous date in Mauritian history. It was the day appointed for the freeing of praedial apprentices, commonly known as field slaves. Freed slaves left the plantations to begin new lives, marking the beginning of a social and economic revolution which would see massive waves of indentured immigrants replace the former slaves in the expanding sugar sector of Mauritius. Within a few years, the ex-apprentice population had slipped from the national consciousness. The comprehensive collection of documents in this volume - the first in a series of Collected Documents on British Mauritius - will serve as an aide-memoire of this vanished community. From the drama of the post-emancipation exodus, the subsequent decline of the ex-slave population is charted to their twilight years at the close of the 19th century, through the utilization of official despatches, private letters, statistics, and the petitions generated by ex-apprentices themselves. The book highlights a fascinating and little known chapter of Mauritian history and will be of interest to all those who wish to learn more about our collective past.