Wolmar is a coastal village in the West of Mauritius, the tiny African island 1100 kilometres off the East coast of Madagascar.

Mauritius is a country so small that you can feel the legacies of colonialism close to your skin. Today for the first time since the pandemic has come to designate our present, my sister and I drove down the west coast, past Flic-en-Flac beach to Wolmar. Wolmar is a smaller, shabbier beach in comparison to its cousin which is an all time favourite. The sand at Wolmar isn’t particularly white or refined, the beach is littered with rocks and clumps of rotting seaweed that have been coughed up on the shore, but it has a charm that feels endemically Mauritian - even though one could argue that there is no such thing, as ours is a history that begins with colonialism.

Out of the corner of my eye I watched a beautiful trio of Creole youth, two men and a woman, posing animatedly for a photoshoot, children of varying shades of brown flitted across the beach shrieking with laughter, their parents pleasantly exasperated. The occasional elderly white couple lumbered through contentedly, the air filled with the comforting sound of chatter, and of course the perennial hum of a Gloria ice cream truck. For just a moment, it felt like I had the permission to forget the terror of the Omicron news cycle [1] (which incidentally sounds like the name of a villain from the Marvel-verse), vaccine inequity, economic inflation and the drove of mass family Covid-19 casualties flooding my Facebook newsfeed.

We walked the length of the coastline, crossing the estuary into the private beach area of the 5-star hotel Sugar Beach Resort [2] and suddenly we were in white country eerily reminiscent of HBO’s The White Lotus, a disquieting satire of wealth, whiteness and histories of exploitation situated in modern day Hawaii. The difference couldn’t have been more stark; here the sand was spotless against the backdrop of the hotel’s French neo-colonial architecture, touted on the hotel's website as being aplantation-style resort [that] masterfully balances old-world opulence with modern comforts’, an aesthetic which is equal parts polished, imposing and sterile—the kind my mother would have praised for its properness. ‘Mous dan dile’ is the Kreole version of the idiom ‘fly in the buttermilk’; I was instantly conscious of my colouredness and the further we walked the heavier my feet felt. My sister, weighted by similar feelings of unease, turned to me and suggested we walk back from whence we came. As we crossed the estuary once more, we passed a lonesome Creole hotel security guard in a white pressed uniform stationed at the border between the two Mauritius’, and an Indo Mauritian family apprehensively deliberating whether or not they were entitled to venture to the “nicer” side of the beach, ‘Kapav marse me pa gagn drwa assize laba’ (We can walk but we’re not allowed to sit down over there).

Image Credit: Incredible Mauritius

We climbed back into our trusty Hyundai i10, Stromae’s Santé [3] playing on the radio, and continued our serendipitous journey in search of sustenance—hospitality I had hoped to find in the embrace of a local ‘Snack’, a small Mauritian eatery. On our quest for the food we never found, we drove past the second largest private hunting grounds in Mauritius, slowing to catch a glimpse through the wire fence of the magnificent deer held hostage in Domaine Wolmar. Eventually we were met with stretches of gated community developments, the likes of AKASHA in Tamarin village, one of many IRS, RES and PDS luxury villa complexes, schemes designed to facilitate the acquisition of property by non-Mauritian citizens, a large number of whom are South African elite (e.g. take a gander at the advertisement on Pam Golding Properties). AKASHA promises ‘a sense of community’ for a tidy sum of €610,000 ($741,465) give or take, which according to its official English website and French Facebook page is a ‘true tropical Eden’ whose name is a bastardisation of the Sanskrit word extracted from Hindu mythology, ‘Dans la mythologie hindoue, Akasha désigne la beauté originelle du monde’ (In Hindu mythology, Akasha denotes the original beauty of the world).

Bellies bloated from disappointment with notes of bitterness, we drove homeward passing towering edifices of commercial centres, such as the recently constructed Coeur Cap Tamarin, that on one hand create opportunity for employment but on the other erode economies of local small businesses and  present consumers with a reproduction of unending sameness, that is to say, platitudinous permutations of the same overpriced branded stores, inconsistently good cafés and fast food outlets that exist in malls across a country intent on cannibalizing itself—which begs the question, what is the price of modernity? But don’t fret, all is well in Mauritius as the “Honourable” Louis Steven Obeegadoo would say [4].


[1] Here at The Metric we would like to take a moment to commend South African scientists and medical personnel for their excellent diagnostic capabilities and the transparency with which they treated the detection of Omicron. This has resulted in the unfair condemnation of several southern African countries by the global community (Auerbach, 2021) despite there being a lack of clarity as to whether infection with Omicron causes more severe disease compared to infections with other variants, including Delta (WHO 2021). It should be noted that in general infectivity and deadliness (i.e. virulence, meaning a diminished ability to cause severe symptoms in the body) are two opposing forces in viral mutations. The more deadly it is, the less likely it is to spread to more hosts because people will die before passing it on (Grubagh, Petrone & Holmes, 2020), and it may be that Omicron is the first step in the transition of Covid-19 toward an endemic level of disease (McCallum, 2021).

[2] Sugar Beach Resort in Mauritius coincidentally shares a name with Sugar Beach Resort in St Lucia, a property of the Viceroy Hotel group; Viceroy meaning ‘a ruler exercising authority in a colony on behalf of a sovereign’.

[3] Santé (signifying a generic toast to the health of an individual/group) is a celebration of the Have-nots made invisible by society, i.e. service workers behind the scenes of our daily lives who are often underappreciated and/or abused.

[4] Mr. Obeegadoo is the incumbent Deputy Prime Minister, Minister Housing and Land Use Planning AND Minister of Tourism who publicly disavowed the Covid-19 crisis in Mauritius during a press conference delivered on the 24th November 2021 despite our hospitals being in distress and cemeteries bursting at the seams.

[5] Credit for the cover image of Wolmar beach goes to the Defimedia Group

The credit for this article goes to my sister Tasneem who suffers through my relentless refusal to take the wheel in her valiant attempts to make me more independent.