In Mauritius, almost everyone smokes … but the law is very strict, even disproportionate. it is possible to be locked up in prison for a year for just having few seeds or a single joint or to come across as Pablo Escobar if you have more than 6 grams on you. The sentences are all the same whatever the type of product therefore some prefer to sell hard drugs, which are more profitable and less bulky, which means that you will find more hard or synthetic drugs than natural ones.
Mauritian weed is a pure sativa with vigorous growth and a long flowering period of up to 6 months for certain plants, which makes its cultivation difficult, long and dangerous. The helicopters from above tell the police on the ground where the plants are so it becomes easy for the police to find the cultivation spot and uproot the plants or chop them. The locals have, by now, started to cultivate the seeds from abroad which give plants ready in less months, they are less visible they say. We can easily say that today, on the island, the Mauritian landrace cannabis plants are endangered if not lost, at least on the island. Mauritian is a variety related to zamal but less “manipulated” therefore having a more wild shape and you can see it in its structure. It expresses several phenos, lavender, wood, and citrus and more aromas while it shows 2 main architectures, one being more conical and talled and the other less tall and more bushy, growing sideways.
Mauritius is a former English colony and when slavery was abolished in 1833 in Jamaica, Bermuda and Mauritius, they wanted to replace the slaves by workers from their greater former colony, India. The first slaves arrived at the Aapravasi Ghat the port of the coolies of all the islands of the whole world. The Indians coming with their food, clothing and their priests, the sadhus with their ganja, they came from the state of Bihar, in the northeast of India (The Hindus brought with them the sadhus, priests and their ganja culture included.) And the slaves said to themselves: how could these people who, like us, have been uprooted from the places, keep their clothes, their food and their gods? While we have nothing! The ganja in Mauritius is called “gandia”. In the old days it was also called “jatta”.
In mauritius it is dangerous and rare to find good weed these days. It is usually sold by the “pouyah” a gram, which costs between 50 and 75 Euros depending on the quality. The leaves are also smoked a lot and are called “grenaze” because the plant is often harvested well before its flowering due to the risks of farmers and growers getting caught by the police.You don’t want to mess around with the police. There is zero tolerance towards both weed and any other drug. A joint containing the ground up leaves costs 5 euros, sometimes when arriving on the island and having not smoked for a few days, smoking a spliff with just the dried and ground leaves can give you a very strong high and your eyes get on fire. Mauritian grass is very potent. Probably the joint contains the small leaves, those closer to the buds. I am not objective because I am Mauritian but I find that it is one the best weed that I have smoked.
Aapravasi ghat is a UNESCO listed port with a stone porch
To ensure the continuity of slave labour, after the abolition of slavery in 1835, in all the English colonies the crown had to find a solution. They had to first have an experience in Mauritius, with a new workforce, directly coming from India to replace immediately the black African slaves who became free. It was at that time, in 1835, that the creation of free immigration with its precarious rules came about. The engagement began, therefore, first in Mauritius in 1835 and much later in the Reunion island in 1860. This probably means that the weed and the seeds that the Indians brought with them stopped in Mauritius first and after to the Reunion island after 25 years.
The first wave of Indian workers came from the northeast state of India, Bihar, then successively from Calcutta, Bombay, then around 1845 from China and new travelers from East Africa such as Kenya and Madagascar, coming to mingle with the local population: fresh free slaves ….
From all these people, there was going to be born a mixture between Hindu and African, or European Dutch sailors stranded, English colonists with Chinese and vice versa.
In the ashrams, the only link to the Indian roots were these communities of meditation and religious discourses, people smoked there the “djatta” or ganja which gradually became “gandia” with creole patwa mauritian. At that time the governance in place did not care about this sacred plant of Shiva.
Cannabis has made this long journey combining over the years this sativa from NorthEast India crossed with a sativa from the south of India then later around 1850 the Malagasy strains which come from Africa, this may be why we can find several sativa differences with this strain. This is also linked to several micro climates present on the island such as the high plateaus (highlands) where the temperatures are cooler or the plains or bushes present where the climate is drier or in humid forests.
CHAMAREL “the land of seven colors, and LE MORNE BRABANT, 2 places where fleeing slaves, called Maroons, had taken refuge long before the abolition of slavery, Dutch slave communities from 1598 to 1715, then d French slaves in 1800 and British slaves in 1830, mixed with the local population they quickly experience the effects of this mystical plant and their descendants nowadays in the 1960s for example with the sharing in the world of rasta culture, saw the birth of this kind of community, as in Jamaica where the movement was born with surely the same mystical instructors and the same original strains of cannabis since all the Indian coolies went through the port of Aapravasi Ghat before going to the Caribbean.
In 1975, 1980 a mestizo rasta singer by the name of KAYA fan of Bob Marley created a unique style of mixing “sega” local music from the slaves and reggae to create “seggae”, a ternary Afro Indian reggae (youtube : kaya seggae)
in 1999 at the height of his career during a demonstration and concert for the legalization of cannabis KAYA was arrested after lighting a spliff on stag. Locked up in prison he will be found dead in a cell the next day. He was a very popular and beloved singer advocating the mixing of Mauritians. Clashes, riots and social unrest ensued throughout the island with several deaths. Among them another rasta singer Berger Agathe as if a plot was aimed specifically at the rastas especially those who were listened to by everybody…
Period 1999 – 2000 to 2005
At that time we could still find the good local herb, well cured and sold by the bud or a gram for 500 Rupees (10 euros) which is called a “pouyah” or “mass” or “pouyah of “gandia” and you could also have luck and find a little Moroccan hash from Europe and the Zamal too through the family and of course the hard drugs from Kenya and Asia.
Today, from 2010 – 2020
The law has become more severe than ever. The local weed is uprooted and destroyed by the local police guided by the helicopter teams that search the plantation from above. The dealers prefer the easier heroine, more profitable, the synthetic and chemical drugs are wreaking havoc because the dose is very cheap, around 100 rupees (2 euros) while cannabis has become rare and costs between 1500 rupee per gram (30 Euros) not fully ripe buds and 4000 rupees (100 euro) per gram from hydroponics grows.
You can read in the newspapers of very old installations and grows in cupboards and the police still think that it is a job of lab experts of mafia. For “a bulb, a ventilator and three pots you can be sentenced to years of prison. This is just to give you an idea of how harsh the situation and punishments have become. The rasta men of the hilltops have kept seeds of crops and plants in guerrillas all year round in several places, often harvesting buds that are barely formed. But the pistils with leaves that are often used for smoking are surprisingly potent. A joint of dried leaves and pistils contains already good amounts of THC and you can definitely feel its effect.
My friend rasta (R.I.P.)
My friend rasta called “little yen”, cultivated since the 60’s, and his father and his grandfather too, using the scrog method in chicken cages or in 2 litre bottles (what an idea!). He was not cultivating many Mauritian local sativas because they would get too tall and would take too long to finish. He switched to more indicas from Europe. Over time, now, on the island there is only skunk or Johannesburg hybrids on the market or Dutch seeds. I spent good evenings with him smoking the chillum, I had a hard time having his few seeds that were certified to be 100% local landraces from the preservation of his grandfather who used to grow the sacred herb from the 1950’s. These seeds are a heritage for the generations to come and they are his legacy that he wanted to give me to keep this local strain alive. From his grandfather, to his father, to him, to me and on to you in whom I believe to ensure that this plant continues to exist and is known in the world and savored by all lovers of a pure sativa.