Mauritian Creoles, constituting about 27 per cent of the population, reflect mixtures of African, French and Indian origins across a broad range. The Creole language, a patois of French and Afro-Malagasy languages, is spoken by virtually all Mauritians and is the ‘ancestral language’ of 36 per cent of the population.
Black Creoles especially have been subject to discrimination. Many neighbourhoods are ethnically segregated, with low-status Creoles invariably in the poorest housing.
The Creole language was long considered socially inferior to French and English. Yet it has since gained status. Since the mid-1980s it has become a language of instruction for the first three grades of primary school.
Declining world sugar and textile prices have hurt the predominantly Creole lower class of Mauritius.