"They ordered us to whiten our skin
and learn French posthaste,to ease the burden of French employers …"
In Maloya,the rhythms,the instruments, and the roles,are descended directly from the slavery times.
This “dance of the Blacks” always impressed the old time listeners with its unsettling blend of “melancholy,lasciviousness and the anguish of the lost homeland”.
Initially, maloya was performed within a ritual framework called servis malgas or servis kabaré.
In these ceremonies animals were sacrificed as offerings to the Malagasy or African ancestors
who were being thus honoured. The songs were used to initiate communication with the ancestors and to lead some of the participants in a state of possession.
Maloya had back then also an aspect of social regulation within the communities of sugar plantation workers. Historically performed in the family circle and the close neighbourhood,
some of the servis became with time increasingly public or semi-public.
The Maloya was sung,carried and transmitted by the majority of the poor uprooted Malagasy,
African, Indians and was also popular among the poor Whites .
Until the 1960s, maloya was also performed during festive evenings (maloya balls)
with dancing and the songs improvisations were well aimed social criticisms and commentary.
This form of emanation through the centuries of the darkness, was always forbidden, suppressed and oppressed by the French rulers of the island.
On December 25, 1975, on the waterfront of St. Pierre, at the initiative of the Southern Cultural Front, the first public concert of maloya was held.