Island culture

A lively cosmopolitan culture
Culture vivante Ile de La Reunion

Reunion Island's captivating natural environment is not the only thing it has in abundance...

Reunion Island, enriched by the mixing of its population during the course of its history, has an exuberant and diverse culture, expressed through its creole language as well as in music and dance.
Reunion Island's captivating natural environment is not the only thing it has in abundance... It's beauty has influenced artists, whose inspiration takes many forms: poetry, literature, theatre, dance, sculpture, etc.

The main means of expression is creole.  This very visual and gently undulating language is widely spoken among the population and is constantly evolving. It is intimately linked to the history of the island. From the first decades during which Reunion Island was populated, the inhabitants, who came from all over the world, had to invent a language to communicate. The foundation of this was French at the beginning of the 18th century, a time of real economic and demographic movement. Creole is now taught from school through to university. It is used in traditional storytelling and fonnkèr (poetry), which is going through something of a revival. The language has also experienced a boom in children's literature. For example, cartoons: The Adventures of Tintin and Astérix have been translated into Reunion creole.

It also inspires music, in particular the island's two iconic styles, Maloya and Séga. The first sounds similar to a ternery blues and was created covertly by African and Madagascan slaves to transcend their suffering. Today everyone is borrowing from it and enriching it, sometimes blending it with rock or reggae, etc.  As regards Séga, it is more European in rhythm and instrumentation, but always very lively. The dancers twirl sensuously, keeping rhythm with the tempo. This upbeat vibe permeates all Reunion festivities, thanks to hundreds of bands and a sizeable recording industry. The notoriety of certain artists is not just restricted to the island: Danyel Waro, Davy Sicard, Salem Tradition, Granmoun Lélé, Meddy Gerville, Ziskakan, Baster, René Lacaille, Nathalie Natiembé, Zong, Pat'Jaune… Take your place on the dance floor !