Friday, 28 July 2006


Thinking about “Mauritianism”, it occurred to me that there is no such thing as “True Mauritianism”. Well, it’s the case where citizenship is concerned but not at all when you start digging deeper into the origins of the Mauritians.

You’re told that before the arrival of the first settlers, the island was inhabited. Does the absence of men make a place uninhabited? That’s what history tells you. What about the animals and birds living on the island then? Surely, they are to be considered Habitants of the Island.

The Mauritius Dodo, more commonly just Dodo, was a metre-high flightless bird of the island. It is currently extinct and it lived on fruit and nested on the ground. The origin of its extinction is controversed since many think that it was brought about by the Dutch, who were the first settlers, while others think that it was caused by a natural disaster which might have occurred even before the arrval of men on the island. The point is, the Dodo is extinct.

“Dodo”, such a funny name you’d think. You wouldn’t be wrong! The etymology of “Dodo” is one of controversy – the bird seems to be controversy prone.

According to Encarta, "dodo" comes from Portuguese doudo meaning "fool" or "crazy". David Quammen, author of "Song of the Dodo", points out "that 'dodo' was an onomatopoeic approximation of the bird's own call, a two-note pigeony sound like 'doo-doo'."

“Fool” or “Crazy”, the Dodo is also portrayed as a clumsy, not very intelligent bird (which is an understatement I am told!). From artists' renditions we know that the Dodo had blue-grey plumage, a 23-centimetre (9-inch) blackish hooked bill with a reddish point, very small – useless - wings, stout yellow legs, and a tuft of curly feathers high on its rear end. Dodos were very large birds – Fat - , weighing about 23 kg (50 pounds).

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Of course, this is not the Dodo, this is a very dangerous dog. Please see the do below:

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

The last known Dodo was killed less than a centuary after the species' discovery. A Dodo egg is on display at the East London museum in South Africa. From genetical researches, it now appears that the Dodo was a close relative of pigeon species that are to be found in Africa and especially South Asia.

No one took particular notice of the extinct bird until it was featured in Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (1865). With the popularity of the book, the Dodo became a household word: "as dead as a Dodo" is a common expression – poor Dodo.

Since 2002, following “Ice Age”, directed by Chris Wedge and co-directed by Carlos Saldanha there’s been a renewal of the interest in the Dodo.

The animated movie featured Dodos at their best. Their Tae Kwon “attacks” made them memorable and movie forums have been full of questions about their origin and whether they truly existed.

Here are a couple of memorable quotes of the movie:

*Dodo: This is our private stockpile for the Ice Age. Sub arctic temperatures will force us underground for a billion, billion years.
Manfred: So you got three melons?

*Dodo: If you weren't smart enough to plan ahead, then doom on you. Other Dodos: [chanting] Doom on you. Doom on you. Doom on you. Doom on... Manfred: Get away from me.

*Dodo: Tae Kwon Dodos, attack

*Dodo #1: Prepare for the Ice Age.
Dodo #2: Protect the dodo way of life.
Dodo #3: Survival separates the dodos from the beasts.

*Dodo #1: [lecturing about a crater] Now don't fall in. If you do, you will definitely...
Dodo #2: [runs in] Intruders. Intruders... oops. [trips and falls into crater]
Dodo #2: ...Burn and die.

At one point, in the French version, they sing "I believe I can Fly"!

It’s terrible though, the fate of the Dodo when you think of it. It does not occur to many but when you medidate over this you realise that the Only True Mauritian is the Dodo and it’s extinct!

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Anita said...

I watched a BBC special not too long ago that claimed the name "dodo" came from the Dutch "Dod-aarsen" meaning "stupid ass," and they claimed the dodo became extinct because the Europeans brought pigs over to eat because, as you mention, the dodo was too fatty. The dodo, being a ground-nesting bird, found it impossible to keep their eggs safe from the swine and thus were wiped out. I love stuff like this.

It's so bizarre to me how people can be willing to move somewhere else and refuse to adapt the customs there at the expense of destroying the environment. I guess a few hundred years ago they didn't know as much about environmental invaders as they do now (not like that stops the US from polluting like crazy).

waz said...

howdy Fitena,
we and the subsequent generations after us will eventually become the true mauritians! dont u think so?
already, with our different ethnic gps together with their own values (norms, ect.) intertwining, mingling, fusing and co-existing with each other, won't u say the ultimate product is our true mru id? especially, with us all talking creole....

ChickyBabe said...

C'est marrant! This post reminded me of an ex-boss of mine who always referred to his business as "dead as a Dodo" when it was very slow. Strange how posts trigger memories!

Adeline said...

thanks for the education fitena!

Fitèna said...

Anita welcome!
I've read some materials on this BBC theory. I guess its right that the Dutch would have called it so because the Dodo did exist when they settled on the island and it was fat because they kept it in captivity!
I read something in Soul Mountain -by an author whose name I can recall at the moment - about how man is the absurdity of man is that we take thousands of years to create and a second to destroy!

waz, doing great! We sure will! But I believe that origins remain, no matter what! Because it matters to know where you're from in order to who where you're going in such or such direction!

CB, I thought you were going to tell me that the Dodo reminded you of your boss in a physical way! lol! Did anyone have any idea why he used the expression? Or did they wonder who Dod was?

Adeline, you're very welcome! :-)


Claire said...

That superdog pic made me laugh. Crazy the stuff one can buy for a pet these days...

Fitèna said...

Claire my thoughts exactly. And this is really nothing compared to the pics I posted on International Days! Check them out they're really worth the click!


Adeline said...

hey Fitena, come check out my study of Mauritius. My goodness, it sounds like you have been keeping your country a a a beautiful secret!

Correct my "facts"

Aulelia said...

What about the Dodo in Alice in Wonderland?

Fitèna said...

Welcome Aulelia!
Through that particular Dodo many came to know of the existence of this creature though it was thought to be a fictional one. After Ice Age I read some questions about whether it has truly existed on some forums!You'll find all about this particular dodo in here's_Adventures_in_Wonderland)


Aulelia said...

Thanks for the welcome -- your blog is so nice. Thanks for the link too, that Dodo on wikipedia was MASSIVE! His behind is bigger than mine and that is saying something.

Fitèna said...

lol aulelia! I wouldn't know that would I? I guess you'd be kind enought to send me a picture to compare! lol!


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