• The history and culture of Chamarel is interspersed with legends and stories that give the village and area an aura of mysticism, but also ties it very closely to the history of slavery and maroonage on the island. The geographic location and topography of Chamarel is such that it was auspicious for runaway slaves. Located at 250m+ altitude and nestled in a valley, it provided along with Le Morne and the surrounding forested areas an ideal place for hiding. This history of resistance paved the way for this village to become a preferred place of settlement upon the abolition of slavery and has led the village to become known by some of the locals as “the Valley of the Blacks” [1].  This in turn has fuelled a number of stories surrounding these times of oppression.


    [1] Rosabelle Boswell, Le Malaise Creole: Ethnic Identity in Mauritius. New Directions in Anthropology, 2006.

Madame Bell

Legend has it, that in an area known today as Madame Bell, resided a woman who owned slaves. It is said that the spirit of the slaves roam at night in the area along the pathways. Jean-Pierre Lenoir, whose family has close ties to Chamarel and author of Bel Ombre, entre mer et montagne has reported that, upon spending the night in a small cabin he shared with his wife that was built on one of these pathways, he was woken up in the middle of night by the sound of bells, coming from the forests that spread over several tens of kilometres up until Bel Ombre, and where there was no church. The confusion and fear was further augmented by his dog who started barking incessantly at the pathway until the bells stopped. The legend was confirmed by a villager and friend the next day[1].



As a place of resistance and maroonage, the valley and forests of Chamarel have aptly lent themselves to local Rastafarianism, a religion based party on the premise of Black resistance and pan-Africanism. Since the 1980s, it is  quite natural, that Rastafarians established themselves in Chamarel and set up a place of worship in an area known as Triangle or La Rosselière[2]


[1] Jean-Pierre Lenoir, Bel Ombre, entre mer et montagne, Editions du Corsaire

[2] “Chamarel: le Nyahbigni Tabernacle profane”, Le Mauricien, 20 February 2016

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