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Saturday, February 09, 2013

Ahhh ... La Gloire De Mayotte Fabuleux-- Know Anyone Who's Ever Been To The French Département Of Mayotte?

A friend of mine just got back from Mayotte. He was only at Dzaoudzi Airport, across the channel from Mamoudzou, his plane having stopped briefly on a trip between Moroni on Grande Comore and Dar es Salaam in Tanzania (a stopover itself on the way to half a dozen other places on an inconvenient and circuitous route to Florida). And there is no convenient way to get to Mayotte from America, take my word for it. But people do go there. It's a couple of islands in the Indian Ocean between Madagascar and Mozambique. There are no hotel chains... always a very good indication that you might be onto someplace worth going to visit. Mayotte is part of a larger small chain of Islands, the Comoros, but Mayotte's 50,000 people voted to stick with France when the rest of the islands formed an independent country in 1974. There was another referendum in 2009-- since the population had grown to nearly 200,000-- and 95.2% of the voters decided they'd rather be part of France than part of the Union of Comoros. 97% of the people there are Muslims. Before being taken over by France in 1841, Mayotte had been conquered by Madagascar and a succession of Afro-Arab sultanates.

The Comoros, which has been chaotic and politically unstable, claims sovereignty over Mayotte and the UN has tended to agree. In 2011 France vetoed a Security Council resolution giving Mayotte back to the Comoros. It's now France's 101st département. That's an unheralded victory over Sharia Law, which is being eased out in favor of the French civil code. (Someone needs to tell American Islamaphobe Bryan Fischer.)

French is the official language of course, but more people speak Shimaore, Shindzwani, Kibushi and Shingazidja than French, at least as a primary language. On the other hand, the currency is the Euro and Americans don't need visas to go there. The tourist attraction is unspoiled nature and unspoiled beaches. Tourists go for the snorkeling, scuba diving, whale watching and sailing. It's always hot and tropical but the best time to go is between June and October when is relatively cooler and free of the cyclones that plague the islands during the rainy season (November to May).

Mayotte... that's all there is

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