CHAGOS: Cultural Heritage Across Generations comes to Crawley Museum
Saturday 5th May saw the CHAGOS: Cultural Heritage Across Generations project provide the inaugural exhibition for the recently reopened Crawley Museum.
The project has previously run events and community workshops in Mauritius and the UK. The exhibition in Crawley Museum features displays about the history of the islanders, including the forced eviction and ongoing legal battles.
But most of the displays are dedicated to the rich cultural history the Chagossians have maintained despite the hardship they’ve faced.
Notable displays included those dedicated to sega music and dance unique to colonised plantations in the Indian Ocean diet including plants which exhibit medicinal properties, and of course coconuts. Displays on coconuts ranged from how the Chagossians made use of every aspect of them, from being the key ingredient in Chagossian cuisine, to using the ashes of coconut husks to produce soap.
Coconuts have been central to Chagossian culture owing to the Chagos Islands previous use as a coconut plantation, used mainly to produce coconut oil.
Films and photographs were also on display.
During the afternoon at Crawley Civic hall Sabrina Jean, Chair of the Chagos Refugees Group in the UK, and Dr Laura
Jeffery from the University of Edinburgh welcomed and thanked everyone for coming.
Saradha Soobrayen read her poetry which reflected on displacement, hardship and life in exile. Traditional Chagossian food was then served including coconut stews (seraz), sautéed Moringa Oleifera leaves (bred murum) and coconut chutney (satini koko). Lastly the Tambour Chagos Junior UK dance troupe performed (see picture).
The exhibition is available to visit at the Crawley Museum until the 27th May 2018.
The CHAGOS project aims to protect and share Chagossian cultural heritage via its website chagos.online, and you can keep up to date with the progress of the CHAGOS project on the project Facebook page.