Ellie Dyson reports on the Mauritius Open-Air Festival held on Sunday 15th July.

Mark Twain once wrote, “you gather the idea that Mauritius was made first, and then heaven; and that heaven was copied after Mauritius”. Having attended the ninth Mauritius Open Air Festival (MOAF) event, we would have to agree! The UK’s largest exhibition of Mauritian culture and food was held in Trent Park, and the event was packed with delicious smelling food-stalls encapsulating the main stage, where the very best of Mauritian musical talent performed.

Mauritius, an island positioned in the Indian Ocean off the southeast coast of Africa, is known for its diversity, due to its placement within the ‘Vasca da Gama’ trading route. Sega music is one such example of the fusion of cultures. Featuring influences from Indian culture and Calypso music, it is an expression of the soul, and there will always be someone dancing wherever it is played.

Even the Island’s enviable weather made an appearance. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky to stop the fierce intensity of the sun, which only added to the lively atmosphere. But of course, it wouldn’t be Britain without needing the umbrellas!

The diverse culture must be mentioned again when describing the national dishes, which derive from India, Africa and China. Clouds of barbeque smoke wafted over the lines of customers, who were eagerly anticipating delights such as jerk chicken, Dal Puri, noodles and deep-fried goodies. Plus, you couldn’t get any fresher than coconut water straight from the source.

2012 Masterchef winner Shelina Permalloo was in attendance, representing her business ‘Lakaz Maman’. Translating as ‘Mum’s House’, her Mauritian street food and traditional sweets were in high demand.

The festival catered for all ages, with the fun-fair being a main attraction for the younger generation. For everyone else, it was the rum that was making heads spin!

The day ended with songs being performed by one of the country’s leading artists, Alain Ramanisum, whilst the sun set over the stage.

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