In the district of Port Louis, lies the 1,640 m2 site where the modern indentured labour diaspora began. In 1834, the British Government selected the island of Mauritius to be the first site for what it called ‘the great experiment’ in the use of ‘free’ labour to replace slaves. Between 1834 and 1920, almost half a million indentured labourers arrived from India at Aapravasi Ghat to work in the sugar plantations of Mauritius, or to be transferred to Reunion Island, Australia, southern and eastern Africa or the Caribbean. The buildings of Aapravasi Ghat are among the earliest explicit manifestations of what was to become a global economic system and one of the greatest migrations in history.
Ce site de 1 640 m2 situé dans le district de Port Louis est l’endroit où commença la moderne diaspora des travailleurs sous contrat ou « engagés ». En 1834, le gouvernement britannique choisit l’île de Maurice pour en faire le premier site de sa « grande expérience », l’utilisation de travailleurs libres plutôt que d’esclaves. Entre 1834 et 1920, presque un demi-million de travailleurs sous contrat arriva d’Inde à l’Aapravasi Ghat pour travailler dans les plantations sucrières de Maurice ou pour être transférés de là à l’île de la Réunion, en Australie, en Afrique australe et orientale, dans les Caraïbes. Les bâtiments de l’Aapravasi Ghat sont l’une des premières manifestations explicites de ce qui devait devenir par la suite un système économique mondial et l’une des plus grandes vagues migratrices de l’histoire.
في هذا الموقع الذي تبلغ مساحته 640 1 م2 والقائم في مقاطعة سان لويس ظهر الشتاتُ الحديثُ لما يعرف بالعمّال المتعاقدين. ففي العام 1834، اختارت الحكومة البريطانيّة جزيرة موريشوس كأول موقعٍ لإجراء "تجربتها الكبرى"، أي استخدام العمّال الأحرار بدلاً من الرقيق. وبين عامي 1834 و1920، وصل حوالي نصف مليون عامل متعاقد من الهند إلى آبرافاسي غات للعمل في مزارع السكر في موريشوس أو للعبور إلى جزيرة ريونيون وأستراليا وأفريقيا الجنوبية والشرقية والكاريبي. كما أن موقع آبرافاسي غات يشكل أحد أوّل المعالم الجليّة لما سيشكل في فترةٍ لاحقةٍ جزءاً من النظام الاقتصادي العالمي وأحد أكبر تيّارات الهجرة في التاريخ.
Ааправаси-Гхат – иммиграционный терминал (город Порт-Луи)
Этот участок портового района в городе Порт-Луи, площадью 1640 кв. м, послужил местом, где зародилась современная диаспора завербованной рабочей силы. В 1834 г. Британское правительство выбрало остров Маврикий в качестве опытного полигона для «великого эксперимента» по использованию «свободных» рабочих для замещения ими рабов. Между 1834 г. и 1920 г. почти полмиллиона завербованных рабочих было доставлено из Индии в Ааправаси-Гхат для работы на плантациях сахарного тростника на Маврикии, или для перемещения на остров Реюньон, в Австралию, Южную и Восточную Африку, или на Карибские острова. Постройки Ааправаси-Гхат относятся к самым ранним и явным свидетельствам того, чему суждено было стать одной из крупнейших миграций в истории человечества.
Este sitio de 1.640 m2, situado en el distrito de Port Louis, es el lugar donde comenzó la diáspora moderna de los “trabajadores contratados”. En 1834, el gobierno británico escogió la isla de Mauricio para aplicar en ella por primera vez lo que llamó “el gran experimento”, o sea la utilización de trabajadores libres en vez de esclavos. Entre 1834 y 1920, llegaron desde la India a Aapravasi Ghat casi medio millón de “trabajadores contratados” para trabajar en las plantaciones de caña azucarera de Mauricio, o ser transferidos a la isla de la Reunión, Australia, el África Meridional y Oriental, y el Caribe. Los edificios de Aapravasi Ghat son uno de los primeros exponentes materiales de lo que llegó a convertirse en un sistema económico de envergadura internacional, causante de uno de los mayores movimientos migratorios de la historia de la humanidad.
Aapravasi Ghat – 1.640 vierkante meter groot – ligt in het district Port Louis. Hier begon de moderne diaspora van contractarbeiders. In 1834 koos de Britse regering het eiland Mauritius uit als het eerste gebied voor ‘het grote experiment’ om gebruik te maken van ‘vrije’ arbeidskrachten in plaats van slaven. Tussen 1834 en 1920 kwamen bijna een half miljoen contractarbeiders uit India naar Aapravasi Ghat om op de suikerplantages van Mauritius te werken of om overgebracht te worden naar andere landen. De gebouwen van Aapravasi Ghat tonen de eerste expliciete manifestaties van een mondiaal economisch systeem en van een van de grootste migraties uit de geschiedenis.
Outstanding Universal Value
Located on the bay of Trou Fanfaron, in the capital of Port-Louis, the Aapravasi Ghat is the remains of an immigration depot, the site from where modern indentured labour Diaspora emerged. The Depot was built in 1849 to receive indentured labourers from India, Eastern Africa, Madagascar, China and Southeast Asia to work on the island’s sugar estates as part of the 'Great Experiment’. This experiment was initiated by the British Government, after the abolition of slavery in the British Empire in 1834, to demonstrate the superiority of ‘free’ over slave labour in its plantation colonies. The success of the 'Great Experiment' in Mauritius led to its adoption by other colonial powers from the 1840s, resulting in a world-wide migration of more than two million indentured labourers, of which Mauritius received almost half a million.
The buildings of Aapravasi Ghat are among the earliest explicit manifestations of what would become a global economic system. The Aapravasi Ghat site stands as a major historic testimony of indenture in the 19th century and is the sole surviving example of this unique modern diaspora. It represents not only the development of the modern system of contractual labour, but also the memories, traditions and values that these men, women and children carried with them when they left their countries of origin to work in foreign lands and subsequently bequeathed to their millions of descendants for whom the site holds great symbolic meaning.
Criterion (vi): Aapravasi Ghat, as the first site chosen by the British Government in 1834 for the ‘great experiment’ in the use of indentured, rather than slave labour, is strongly associated with memories of almost half a million indentured labourers moving from India to Mauritius to work on sugar cane plantations or to be transshipped to other parts of the world.
The setting of the property was altered by the construction of a road that cuts across it. At present, less than half of the Immigration Depot area as it existed in 1865, survives. However, original structural key components still stand. These include the remains of the sheds for the housing of the immigrants, kitchens, lavatories, a building used as a hospital block and highly symbolical flight of 14 steps upon which all immigrants had to lay foot before entering the immigration depot. However, the property is vulnerable to the development in the buffer zone, some of which is unregulated.
The property represents the place where indentured immigrants first arrived in Mauritius. Archival and architectural drawings of the complex at the time of its alteration in 1864-1865 give evidence of its purpose as an immigration depot. The surviving buildings reveal significant aspects of the history of the indentured labour system and the functioning of the immigration depot.
While there was little detailed documentation of conservation work undertaken prior to 2003 , the more recent work, including the removal of the undesirable additions of the 1990s, has been based on archaeological investigation and detailed archival documentation, including the complete set of drawings of the Immigration Depot at the time of the complex’s remodelling in 1864-1865.
Prior to the launching of the recent conservation work and restoration work, two technical reports for the conservation were prepared respectively in December 2003 and May 2004 by ICOMOS-India. Complete photo documentation as well as architectural documentation of the site were undertaken before initiating the conservation works and during the conservation process. These were compiled as part of the periodic conservation reports of the property.
Protection and management requirements
The Aapravasi Ghat site is owned by the Ministry of Arts and Culture. The property is protected as National Heritage under the National Heritage Fund Act 2003 and the Aapravasi Ghat Trust Fund Act 2001. The Buffer Zones are regulated by the Municipal Council of Port-Louis under the Local Government Act. Day-to-day management of the site is the responsibility of the Aapravasi Ghat Trust Fund. The Board of the Trust Fund consists of representatives of key institutions such as the Prime Minister’s Office, the Ministry of Arts and Culture, the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, the Ministry of Tourism and the National Heritage Fund. A technical team of the Aapravasi Ghat Trust Fund reviews all conservation works at the site with International experts.
The Management Plan of the Aapravasi Ghat site (2006-2011) addresses the strategy and the vision for the long term sustainable development of the property. One of the key objectives expresses the need to put legislative back-up in place for the Buffer Zones and to establish a clear management structure. It involves setting up a legal protection for the Buffer Zones through the promulgation of a Planning Policy Guidance. The objective is to orientate development towards the valorisation and revitalization of the area, which holds attributes associated to the outstanding universal value of the property. The key objectives also include the development of a comprehensive Conservation Plan, the need to foster links with the local community in the Buffer Zones, the implementation of a Visitor Management Plan and the setting up of an interpretation centre for the property. Research objectives focus on the Buffer Zones and on intangible heritage with a view to produce an inventory of intangible heritage related to indenture.
In order to protect the setting and context of the property, it will be necessary in the medium term for progress to be made with putting in place adequate tools to facilitate the management and conservation of the property and its buffer zone and to allow engagement with inhabitants of the surrounding town in order that the relationship between the property and its buffer zones is better understood.
In 1721 the French took formal possession of Mauritius. Because of its sheltered position, Trou Fanfaron, became the landing point for the first French settlers who begun the construction of Port Louis in 1732, using labour from India, Africa and the Malagasy. Large defensive walls and a hospital with foursquare walls around a court were some of the earliest constructions. The hospital still exists in the buffer zone.
The hinterland of Trou Fanfaron became the cosmopolitan commercial centre of Port Louis: in the 18th century Malagasy, African and India freemen settled there and they were joined by merchants from India and China in the 19th century. A "Mauritian" style of architecture soon begun to emerge, based on walls of stone with lime mortar or latanier wood, and roofs of argamasse mortar over shingles (a technique imported from India) or latanier leaves. The lime mortar included yoghurt, egg whites, butter and "gingely" oil - a recipe that is still in use today, and being used for restoration work on Aapravasi Ghat.From the mid 18th century sugar plantations were developed on the island, worked by slaves.
In the early 19 century, the British were expanding their influence in the Indian Ocean. At the end of 1810, the British marched into Port Louis and the French surrendered. Under the British, sugar production increased, Port Louis was transformed into a free port, roads were built and trade flourished. With the abolition of slavery in 1834, the system of indentured labout was introduced by the British government to maintain a supply of labour, particularly for the sugar plantations. Thousands of people begun to arrive each year from India and were housed initially in a depot in Port Louis until they could be dispersed to the plantations. th The nominated site is the remains of this depot. Aapravasi Ghat is located on the east side of the bay of Trou Fanfaron. There were three main phases for the history of reception arrangements for immigrant labourers.
In the first phase from 1834 to 1849, when immigration began and the system of indentured labour was first established, it appears that there was initially no fixed immigration depot and several buildings in different locations around the bay were used for disembarkation by arriving labourers. Around 1840 a building later converted into a smallpox hospital served as the immigration depot. Its location is not known. In 1843 there is a written reference to ‘old stone buildings' being used and these have been identified with part of the Military hospital complex built in the 1740s. At least three other buildings are also known to have been used.
The site of Aapravasi Ghat was chosen in 1849. An old French building built before 1775 then existed on the site and this seems to have formed the core for other structures subsequently added. A plan of the site drawn up in 1849 shows the additions made. As with most plans it is not clear if all of what is shown was constructed. The plan shows six buildings around a yard the whole complex adjacent to stone steps leading down to the harbour. Almost immediately it became clear that the new structures were inadequate to cope with the numbers of immigrants arriving: there were at time as many as 1,000 men, women and children in the depot at any one time. The space was enlarged in the 1850s and a new landing space created. Further enlargements were approved in 1856.
By 1857 all available land had been built upon. Further land was then acquired and the site improve by installing privies, roofing the buildings in French tiles rather than tin to give better insulation and ventilation and constructing a wharf wall along the waterfront. All this was completed by 1859. The Protector of Immigrants describes the complex in detail in his report for 1859. He mentions large buildings some with bitumen floors, tile roofs, and planked walls, and says that 600 people can be accommodated "without the slightest inconvenience". The newly improved depot was photographed in 1859.
In the 1860s further changes were made to separate new and old immigrants and to provide separate toilets and bathing places. All the changes between 1864-5 are documented.
In 1864 the construction of a railway cut the immigration depot into two and walls were constructed along the edges of the tracks. Further minor modifications were made up to 1923.
Indentured immigration declined during the 1870s and finally ceased in 1923. The buildings were put to other uses. Many survived until a bus station was constructed in the 1970s and a motorway (the M2 national road) was put through the site in the 1980s. Others were demolished to ‘tidy up' the area. In the 1990s part of the site was landscaped as a commemorative space.
In 1865 the depot consisted of: Gatekeeper's office, Surgery, Kitchens, Immigration office, Sirdars' sheds, offices of the depot Keeper and Store Keeper, Immigrants' Sheds, privies and steps leading to the wharf. Of these only the gatekeeper's office, surgery and wharf steps survive. There are archaeological remains of the kitchens, sirdars' quarters, part of the immigration sheds and privies.
During the 1980s awareness was fostered by determined local residents of the importance of the site. A practice was inaugurated of holding a religious ceremony at the site every November to honour the jehaji bhai spirit. The remains were proclaimed a national monument in 1987 and in 1988 the site was vested in the Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture.
In 1999 a project was started to renovate the remaining buildings on the site together with a study of the extensive archival evidence that is extant. In 2001 archaeological excavations were begun by the Mahatma Gandhi Institute. This project led to some controversy and it was agreed that a legal framework for the development should be put in place. In 2001 the Aapravasi Ghat Trust Fund was established. This has led to more intensive archaeological work being carried out and a project to reverse inappropriate work carried out in the 1990s. In 2001 the name of the site was changed from Immigration Depot to Aapravasi Ghat. To some sections of the population in Mauritius this change has signalled the association of the site with Hindu indentured labourers rather than all indentured labourers, as some were not Hindu but Muslims.Source: Advisory Body Evaluation