Mauritius Islands: The Case of Ras Natty Baby

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Mauritius: The Case of Ras Natty Baby

After more than two years in jail, the support for Ras Natty Baby seems to have abated with little fresh information on his website, and a loss of media interest. This, according to Daniel Brown, editor-in-chief for www.mondomix.com, journalist at RFI and vice chair for Freemuse:

In April 2003, Mauritian singer Ras Natty Baby was arrested, accused of smuggling heroin. After 11 months of “preventative detention”, the star musician was refused bail. 25 months later, the silence around Ras Natty Baby’s detention grows and thickens.

Ras Natty Baby faces a sentence of up to 20 years in prison and there is no time limit to his current “preventative detention”. Suspicion of drug trafficking automatically suspends all constitutional rights.
Is the government using its panoply of “anti-drug laws” against Ras Natty Baby in order to silence an outspoken and popular composer who has not hesitated to lambast the authorities for their policies?

Born in the island of Rodrigue (700 km from Mauritius), Ras Natty Baby pioneered a music style called “Seggae”. This draws its inspiration from Rastafarian philosophy, local Sega rhythms, reggae and the harsh social and economic realities that surrounded the singer. In the Petite Rivière community where he lived, he set up his Natty Rebels, a band that enjoyed widespread success as a modern expression of a Creole people which has felt marginalised and repressed for decades.

More disturbingly for the authorities, Ras Natty Baby dared break out of the ghetto by singing in French and English. In his popular album “Seggae time” he calls on the youth to reclaim its rights, pinpoints the walls between the North and South, denounces a life full of illusion and repression.

The Cuban musician Gorki Luis Águila Carrasco was arrested the same month as Ras Natty Baby. In March 2005 Gorki was released after a well-orchestrated international campaign denouncing his incarceration (see http://www.freemuse.org/sw3956.asp). Similar pressure needs to be put on Mauritian Prime Minister Paul Bérenger and his government to bring them to reason.

Read the full story in Mondomix: What’s become of Ras Natty Baby?


Ras Natty Baby

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