Radiodiffusion Internasionaal Annexe

John Kenneth Nelson
March 8, 2009, 8:35 am
Filed under: Mauritius

Z’Enfant Misère

Mauritius is an island nation off the coast of the African continent in the southwest Indian Ocean, about 900 kilometres east of Madagascar. First settled by the Dutch who then abandoned it, the island was taken by the French who lost it the English in the Napoleonic Wars in 1810. Over a century and a half later, Mauritius gained independence in 1968.

The island of Mauritius – as well as the islands of Réunion, Seychelles, Comoros, Mayotte and Rodrigues, along with parts of Madagascar – are best known for Sega music. Sega evolved out of the culture of the Western Indian Ocean islands, in the mid-18th century that were influenced by an influx of polka and quadrilles from Europe. The music’s traditional form was largely improvised and intensely emotional and expressed the tribulations of a subjugated, initially enslaved, people. It was also used as a dirge and as part of traditional exorcisms.

Although John Kenneth Nelson is considered one of the first big names in Sega, there is very little information available about him. He was included on Playasound’s Air Mail Music series compilation “Les Mascareignes” that was released in 2002. He also is credited as playing on Harold Nelson’s album “L’Amitié des Îles” that was released in 2007, which was the same year that he passed away at the age of 57. A street in the capital city of Port Louis, where he and his family has lived for over forty years, now bears his name.

Catalog number C. 47002 on Disques Capricorne of Madagascar. No release date listed.