Wednesday, March 16, 2016

The postmen of Mafate, heroes of La Réunion

From an article on SébPhilatélie, remastered, published Thursday February 6th 2014.

If you are interested on postal services in the French Overseas, La Réunion has got legendary postmen: the ones whose rounds took days of walking to reach the isolated settlements in the island's calderas. The inhabitants of the Cirque of Mafate continues to receive mail thank to this walking postman.

Watch for reruns on France 1ère and France Ô, both public channels who broadcasted in overseas territories for the former and to the Metropolitan French public for the latter: an example on March 2013 on Réunion 1ère. Reporter Jacques Pavet followed current postman Cyril Maillot walking 30 kilometers a day through mountain paths, tropical forests and plains, carrying fifteen to twenty kilograms of mail, banknotes to serve the inhabitants or any necessary packets (medicine, lottery tickets,...).

Bat'ker, Le Facteur de Mafate, 2008, album: Lé Gadianm (clip on youTube posted by Booster Label).

The postmen of Mafate are part of the folklore réunionnais, an island reputed in Metropolitan France among hikers. In 2008, Bat'ker, a band of La Réunion, wrote and performed a song and a clip, Le Facteur de Mafate. The website Réunionnais du monde published an interview with Irvin Pausé, postman from 1951 to 1991, who estimated he had walked five times around the Earth with the Mafate rounds.

These walking postmen are presented from time to time on national television in France like an episode of Faut pas rêver, a geographic documentary on France 3 in 1995, or a side-report in the mid-day news on TF1 in May 2012 with Cyril Maillot's predecessor and a meeting with retired Irvin Pausé in his shop. An important enough subject so that Angelo Thiburce, who walks in another sector of Mafate, has got a page on the Wikipedia  in French after his retirement.

But, because La Réunion is an overseas département, the stamps of Metropolitan France have been used since départementalisation in 1947. And no stamp on the postmen of the Cirques has been issued yet.

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