When you talk about colonization, one of the thoughts that springs to mind is how far so many European countries have gone, all in the pursuit of glory. Whether you want to talk about the British Empire or the French’s seafaring adventures, there is no denying that some of the most pivotal and landmark discoveries around the world were made by people right here.
If you want to talk about the British Empire, then it would be so hard to forget that the borders of the Empire, was without a doubt the largest and the grandest. It had built walls around the whole Empire and had no interest in focusing on matters outside of these walls. So, even if to the vast world outside it seemed like a place that was nonchalant about the violent situations that raged on endlessly, there is no denying that the Empire was a force of tremendous good.
Even outside of it’s walls the Empire could be seen to comment on wrongdoings, invest in trade and infrastructure and conduct dialogue over deadly conflicts, aiming to sort out all of the crisis, as much was possible on their behalf. It is not always possible to win every single battle for so many Empires, but can you really say that the British Empire was one of them? I would have to say that, judging by it’s legacy, that you cannot.
The actions of the people that made up the Empire might be open to debate but there is no denying the legacy of it – the Empire has done a lot of good in this world. But the picture is starkly different for the French and the Dutch. When you think of the dodo bird, you think so many things. You ponder about how it is now extinct and how it is a rather wonderful flightless bird that laid eggs.
Discovered by the Dutch first in 1662, the bird counts Mauritius to be it’s native home. Mauritius is a land deep in culture and positive frivolity, and was repeatedly colonized by Europeans. However, the first time that the land was colonized was infact in the Middle Ages, by Arab sailors. In Europe, the only Empire that really had a huge impact geographically was the British Empire. The rest of the European Empires saw constant fighting breaking out to colonize lands and claim it as their own but were never really very successful.
In Mauritius, the first ship to anchor down was a ship sent by the Dutch East India Company, not the East India Company. Their legacy in looting the land revered throughtout time, unlike the East India Company’s adventures in the region – they were attracted to the land because of it’s resources in ebony, ambergris, tobacco and rearing cattle. They went very far but they could never completely cross out all of the political exploitation that kept on happening in the country, partly due to Dutch trading influence.
The Dutch were deeply attracted to the land and was interested in colonizing it. This was the general thought of the day amongst all European Empires but the picture was starkly different on the ground. Conditions in the country were very tough, much like how it was for the East India Company in India: there were cyclones, drought, plague and floods, and a Dutch East India Company that was ill-prepared to handle them.
The Company had recruited slaves with no morals, there were pirates bent on looting the land, so after the Dutch found it difficult to invest in the land, or lost interest in it completely, in preference of neighbouring Central African countries, which to them seemed far more lucrative and appealing, the slaves were allowed to run free to destroy the country. The slaves, for their part, were never ashamed of what they had done because the hard labour they were made to do, alongside convicts, left them with a bitter aftertaste about Mauritius.
The French, who came right after the Dutch in Mauritius, did plenty for the country later on, not only turning it into a productive colony but a place that became a pride for the rich land. However, this dream was to not last because they eventually grew very bitter about how successful the East India Company was proving to be in India. After losing out on any possibility to gain something from India, and gain a strong foothold there, they raided Madras. Although, the shockwaves of this episode wasn’t felt until later, the consequences for the Kings who orchestrated it all was very dire.
The British never found it hard to recover though, and went out to once again expand the Empire’s horizons across the seas. Furthermore, the East India Company was responsible for abolishing slavery in Mauritius, in exchange for a lot of money. To address the incident that took place in Madras before, several slaves were transported from the town to Mauritius and sent to work in extremely harsh conditions in sugar plantations. They did not have much of a life but formed most of the population in the country, and the French East India Company was very successful in ensuring their Kingdom survived amongst it all. Today, Mauritius is independent, rapidly industrialising, busy reforming it’s trade and agriculture ties, and famous for the dodo bird.