Tribute to a great Mauritian poet: Salam to Dev Virahsawmy

On November 8th, 2023, Dev Virahsawmy, a distinguished linguist and authentic Mauritian passed away. Teacher, politician, poet, a man who pursued multiple passions throughout his whole life, including the one we wish to highlight today: our mother tongue, “Kreol Morisien” (Mauritian Creole).

Through his numerous literary works, this author reveals his struggles, his state of mind, his passion for his island… His poetry, also composed in English and French, highlights the linguistic mosaic of Mauritius, a nation where several Mauritians with different languages ​​coexist harmoniously. His writings, full of emotion, reflect essentially the rich diversity of Mauritius. It is important to note that Dev Virahsawmy also penned remarkable Creole songs, among which some protest songs that still echo in the minds of the older generation.

A passionate advocate for Mauritian Creole, he campaigned tirelessly for the integration of the Creole language as an educational tool in our schools, firmly believing that this would significantly contribute to the education of a larger number of young Mauritians. With an unyielding determination and a fervent dedication to education, he embarked on a lifelong mission to combat illiteracy. Today, Dev Virahsawmy’s influence permeates every corner of Mauritius: entire generations of men and women who have been very lucky in benefiting from his dedication and passion for literature and teaching in general.

Dev Virahsawmy bequeaths the translation into Creole of several sacred books including the Bible, the Bhagavad Gita, the Quran to name but a few. His artistic soul was his inspiration to translate into Creole several works of international authors including Shakespeare, and The Little Prince by St Exupéry, and the musical comedy by Tim Rice: Zozef ek so palto larkensiel – translation of Joseph and the amazing technicolor Dreamcoat. This extensive collection of works will be cherished in the memory of many Mauritians for years to come.

Throughout his career, Dev Virahsawmy has received numerous distinctions for his contribution to Mauritian literature and culture. His diligent work promoting Mauritian identity has inspired more than one, even transcending our borders. Beyond the inspiring journey of this born patriot, we will primarily remember his tireless fight against illiteracy. Until his final days, he will keep embodying the essence of patriotism, leaving behind as legacy, a collection of literary works, made available to all Mauritians at the Cardinal Jean Margéot Institute in Rose-Hill, Mauritius.

Since he is no more, a new chapter of Mauritian literature unfolds. In honor of his legacy, let us keep on planting seeds to cultivate a more educated, more inclusive Mauritius. From his garden where he must be contemplating us, let us hope that he is surrounded by all the beautiful flowers adorning his literary work: “Les to zarden koze” (Let your garden speak).


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