Ismail Serageldin

Statements & Reflections

Reflections on Mauritius


Situated far from any major land mass, the island of Mauritius has been blessed by natural beauty and a population of 1.2 million that draws the best from many ethnic sources, to produce a multi-lingual and culturally rich society with a very distinct identity.

Mauritius has benefited from wise economic management over the past decades and has developed a highly educated population that draws the best from Asia and Africa and Europe, and remains distinctively Mauritian.

In tourism, they have gone for the high end tourists who come to outstanding and meticulously managed resorts that combine palm trees and beaches, with a backdrop of mountain ruggedness for the desiring hiker.  [pictures]

The capital city of Port-Louis is on the northwest side of the island, and is charming.  Here are some shots [see pictures] of the center of town and the special museum that presents Mauritian history (discovered by Arabs in the 10th century, and successively colonized by the Dutch, the French then the British, becoming independent in 1968 and declared a republic in 1992).  The Museum is named after the Mauritian blue penny stamp, one of the rarest and most valued among the stamp collectors of the world. The Museum also celebrates Mauritian legends (Paul and Virginie being a famous literary story). [see Picture]

The land that had the most famous of extinct birds (the dodo), Mauritius has the best international program for protecting biodiversity in such places as Ile des Aigrettes.  This small island is a natural preserve where rare species can flourish and no predators (like cats and rats) have been allowed for generations. In that preserve a statue of the dodo sits among the trees [picture], while real life skinks (lizards), giant tortoises  and the rarest of living birds, the pink pigeon, [picture] are to be found.  An occasional statue of a skink is also provided. [see pictures].

I was there to meet the President, Prof. Ameenah Gurib-Fakim, a distinguished scientist in her own right. I gave her the complete series of “Horizons” my program on science for public TV, and she gave me a beautiful model ship, one of the really distinctive Mauritian hand-made historically accurate replicas. [see pictures].

The President had organized a two-day symposium on Science, Nature and Art, and I was honored to participate as an opening keynote speaker and as participant on the subsequent discussion panels. [see pictures].   The PowerPoint of the opening keynote address can be found by clicking here. 






Dodo statue


Pink pigeon 

Skink statue


With President, Prof. Ameenah Gurib-Fakim










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