Ti Frere - The History Of Mauritian Sega

Jean Alphonse Ravaton, popularly known as "Ti Frère", meaning "little brother" in Mauritian Creole), was born on April 22, 1900, in Quartier Militaire, in the district of Moka. His father of Malagasy origin was also a singer, he hosted large private parties called "bal bobesse"; these receptions were organised on Saturday evenings. Ti Frère grew up in this atmosphere of Creole's typical sega. He was apparently illiterate but able to improvise a song at the slightest request.

In 1925, he sang his first séga, Tamassa. This song was recorded on a 45 rpm in 1948, by the company Damoo sound & music. It is the first 45 rpm recorded in Mauritius. At that time, sega was considered vulgar music and was not suited to the then society. Ti Frère popularity became bigger and bigger. Consequently, he was crowned "King of the Sega" in 1964. Despite that, Ti Frère lived in abject poverty. He was forced to change trades several times to earn some money (cane cutter, bus driver, rock breaker, forest ranger, hunter, horse supervisor).

Later, with the introduction of the modern sega, Ti Frère sunk into oblivion. In the 1990s, Ti Frère's state of health deteriorated. He became blind. He was decorated with an MBE (Member of the Order of the British Empire). Ti Frère died penniless at the age of 92 in 1992 but his songs survive. Among the most popular, Anita, La grain café, Roseda, Papitou, Maa Bole Maa, Charlie Oh, Baré, Ki ti baliyé la, etc.