Preserving Creole Music in Reunion

A. J. Samuels

Just like the diverse ethnicities and rich culture found in Reunion, the country’s music is a similar mixture of influences, both indigenous and foreign. Despite being deeply tied to France, the modern forms of music here keep Creole culture and history alive.
Located in the Indian Ocean, off the eastern coast of Madagascar, the volcanic island of Reunion is an overseas territory of France. The population here is mixed though, and includes descendants from French colonialists, slaves from Madagascar and mainland Africa, and laborers from Southeast Asia. An example of this cultural amalgamation can be found in the island’s music. With a focus on dance, music here is seen as an aspect of social cohesion, bringing a variety of outside influences to bear on its own style. In Reunion, genres such as jazz, rap, reggae, zouk, ragga and dancehall are extremely popular, however the two main types of music now native to the island are Sega and Maloya.
Sega, a style that was widely spread during the time of slavery, mixes European and African music, and is generally of a more cheerful and lighthearted character. Maloya on the other hand, originally sang by slaves about their mistreatment, are songs of lament. Having a strong African element, Maloya is characterized by a chant-like rhythm, complemented by percussion. Maloya was banned from Reunion for many years because of its association with Creole culture and the Communist Party of Reunion, but it has now re-emerged. and has been transformed into a festive part of the Reunion culture that has been past down from generation to generation, with the changes reflecting the times.
One of the islands’ most famous Maloya groups is Ziskakan, who have fought hard to keep the Creole language and Maloya musical traditions alive. With the addition of Indian instruments and modern techniques, they have created a unique ‘rebel’ style called Electric Maloya. They are widely respected for their militant promotion of culture through arts such as poetry, theatre, music and dance. The lead singer, Gilbert Pounia, founded the band in 1979. Considered a storyteller as well as a musician, Pounia is of Tamil descent and has combined his lead role in Ziskakan with political activism for the protection of Reunionais cultural heritage. His persona and his music embody the island’s Creole identity, and he and his band have developed a following beyond the shores of Reunion. Since music is such a central part of Reunion’s history and lifestyle, there are also many festivals that occur here every year, with the biggest being the Sakifo Festival.

culture trip left arrow
 culture trip brand logo

Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip

meet our Local Insider


women sitting on iceberg


2 years.


It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.


I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!

culture trip logo letter c
group posing for picture on iceberg
group posing for picture on iceberg

Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.

map of volcanic iceland trip destination points
culture trip brand logo
culture trip right arrow
landscape with balloons floating in the air


Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.


Holiday Sale Offers on Our Trips

Incredible Savings

Edit article