Mauritius has several constitutions, some
of which are not in amity with the United
Grand Lodge of England. Being a small
island, it follows that Masons, sometimes
from the same family, may belong to
For this reason, although they do not visit
one another’s Lodge, nevertheless they meet
socially. Once a month they have a lunch
under the umbrella of Dodo 50, a gathering
that exhibits the ideology of fraternity as a
common denominator. I was invited to such
a lunch. Nothing Masonic is discussed, but
speeches of topical interests are encouraged.
As the attendees consist of distinguished
members of the community – and ladies
are occasionally invited – the tone of the
assembly is both stimulating and educational.
After the lunch, I was invited to visit
the Samuel Barbé Museum, which is in
the Loge La Triple Espérance. The latter
is under the banner of the Grand Orient
de France, but of course was in amity with
us previous to the 1877 modification of the
Constitution by France. The Lodge became
dormant in the 1950s and a few brethren
from various constitutions met to revive it.
When it came to choose whether it should
be French or English constitutionally, the
vote was a draw. It was Samuel Barbé, a
pharmacist and friend of my family who
had originally encouraged me to become
a Freemason, who made the casting vote.
Loge La Triple Espérance is the oldest
Lodge on the island and dates from 1778.
It was interesting to see relics, paintings etc
of our past brethren on display, including
the portrait of Lord Moira who, in 1813,
as the Deputy Grand Master of the UGLE
and Governor-General of India, visited the
newly captured colony.
Also among the portraits is that of Sir
Robert Farquhar, a Freemason and the
first Governor of Mauritius following its
capture by Britain in 1810. Some months
earlier, in a minor naval skirmish – the
Battle of Grand Port – which is recorded
at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, both the
French and English commanders were
The nearby elegant house of Jean de
Robillard was turned into a hospital where
Rear-Admiral Victore Duperre and Admiral
Sir Nesbit Willoughby convalesced alongside
each other and shook hands, symbolising
the beginning of an entente cordiale. Later
it was found that they were both Freemasons.
Today, the house is a naval museum and
contains portraits of both men.
In all, the museum and the rebirth of
Loge La Triple Espérance typify what
can be achieved when brethren have
determination and conviction, just as
with the dogged persistence of establishing
the Grand Lodge that has taken some
hundred years in the founding.
When I asked the MW Grand Master what
was in the pipeline for future development,
he said: “Mauritius is destined to play an
outstanding role in the development of
Freemasonry both within the neighbouring
francophone group of countries which
includes Madagascar, Reunion, Commoros,
Seychelles, Rodrigues and the Anglophone
countries including South Africa, India,
Australia and New Zealand.
“Mauritius, by the diversity of its
Masonic culture and its unique geographical
position, almost in the centre of the Indian
ocean, is an enviable situation to bring
together the Lodges and Grand Lodges of
the region. Mauritians are trilingual with
English and French as common languages.
“Our society is multi-racial, pluriethnical
and multi-religious. Our Lodges
practice no less than eight different Rites:
Emulation, York, Ancient and Accepted
Scottish Rite, Scottish Rectified Rite,
Scottish Standard, Irish Standard, Modern
French Rite and Egyptian Rite. In the name
of the Great Architect of the Universe,
we unite Christians, Muslims, Hindus
and Buddhists in prayers.
“From that perspective, I think we are
unique in the world and I foresee Mauritius
as a showcase of the universality of
Freemasonry for the world. We are hoping
to increase our membership by twofold in
five years and have a Grand Temple. As you
see we are a little Grand Lodge with great
ambitions. We are also pragmatic and know
that to succeed we need to work hard”.
The Grand Lodge of Mauritius is a new
venture, but it is rooted in the bond of
friendship not only fraternally, but that
which exists between the multi-cultural
people who inhabit the island. Giant strides
have already been taken along the way.
I can only urge anyone who may be going to
the island, and has the opportunity, through
the proper channels, to visit and experience
the hand of friendship themselves.
The Phoenix Masonic Hall,
Web site created by Mark Griffin