Seychelles Creolization Festival a resounding success

Tourism Tattler was invited by the Seychelles Minister of Tourism and Culture, Alain St. Ange to attend the 2013 Festival Kreol, which took place in Victoria, Mahé from 25 to 31 October. Tattler journalist and photographer couple, Jeannie and Keith Burns covered the event and described their experience as “A Mosaic of History, Religion, Culture and Destiny”.

The Seychelles has a tiny population of just 85,000 people and it is estimated that nearly half of its citizens work abroad, but I’d not be surprised if they all returned home for what appears to have become an annual pilgrimage to join their cousins from the Vanilla Islands of the Indian Ocean, Rodrigues, Trinidad-Tobago and the Caribbean, in celebrating the 28th Festival Kreol in the smallest capital city in the world, Victoria.

Getting caught up in the happy, relaxed way of island living is contagious and the friendliness transmitted through the festival is quite unique as Creoles share friendship during this time and are encouraged to show respect for the creole language and culture and to carry the Creole heritage forward into the future.

Seychelles-Walk-of-FameThe official opening took place on the evening of the 25th October 2013. The Minister of Tourism and Culture, Mr. Alain St. Ange, welcomed the dignitaries, musicians and all performing artists and said that the Seychelles ambition is to hold a key position in the promotion of Creole Culture and Heritage. He appealed to everyone to live their Creole heritage every day, not just during the festival. He asked the neighbouring states to support their artists so as to continue promoting Creole culture. He said that a new cultural revolution is beginning in the Seychelles. The revolution includes the recognition and contribution of local musicians, which was acknowledged by the unveiling of the ‘Walk of Fame’ – where plaques of Seychelles musicians are embedded in paving stones along the front of the National Cultural Centre.

The old courthouse will house the cultural offices, so providing necessary support for musicians. This year the festival has been modified to include more people in activities, and include commerce in the form handicrafts.

Minister St. Ange thanked everyone who had contributed to this year’s festival and concluded in saying that the country’s vision is to amalgamate Tourism and Culture.

Didier Robert of Le Reunion (member of the ministry) said that a festival like this brings people closer, as they already share a common culture. “We are proud of this culture that unites us despite our differences. We are a mix of Indian, African and European heritage. This in turn makes us citizens of the world”.

Monique Bellepeane, the Vice-President of Mauritius, said that above all it is a celebration of island living and is one of the oldest events held for the Indian Ocean Commission (I.O.C.). She concluded by quoting Mauritius President Ramgoolam; “Our country of origin does not matter because when we think, we think in Creole.”

President James Michel of Seychelles, declared the Festival officially opened. He said that Victoria, the Creole Capital of the World is blooming during this time of the year and Seychelles was the pioneer in its quest to celebrating creole culture worldwide. He said that Reunion and Mauritius have always been valuable partners in this quest.

He welcomed Haiti and Martinique and asked all Creole Nations to join Seychelles in this initiative. “Millions of Creoles share friendship during this time and it is important that the creole language and culture is respected. In the past there were even reprisals at some point for those practising creole culture. We need to keep strong as Seychelles carries the Creole Flag forward into the future, for ourselves, our children of today and for generations to come. What began as a small spark twenty eight years ago, has now become a powerful blaze and is burning in the Seychelles peoples’ hearts and we will transmit that to our children” concluded President Michel.

This festival is held to show what the Creole Culture is about and celebrate the identity they share. The program enables individuals or groups to express themselves and present their achievements in all the arts.

Seychelles-Creole-Band-DanceAn amazing variety of talent was shown, with groups of singers, dancers and musicians keeping the crowds entertained. The rhythmic beat of the ‘Sega’ music, authentic to the Islands, set the atmosphere alight. As a visitor I could not help moving in time to the music and join in their celebrations! The colourful skirts of the women dancers and the bright floral shirts worn by the men made a striking picture. The energy and passion of these artists sent out a positive vibe. There is an amazing depth of talent, as displayed by the various groups who took to the stage. One who deserves mention is David Philoe who has been in the music industry for over 40 years. What an entertainer!

A resident Seychelles band The Big 5, are world class, they plan to tour the Indian Ocean Islands and Africa in the near future. There was a strong contribution by the Le Reunion Artists, in music, song and dance. They had the audience clapping & swaying in time to the beat! Individuals who performed, to name one, a young girl, Sandra – the winner of the 2013 Seychelles singer of the Year Award – received a standing ovation. A visiting singer from Haiti had the crowd off their seats. Then the Sega dancers, in their brightly coloured skirts moved with such energy, agility and rhythm.

Read more on the Seychelles in the magazine Cover Story on page 05 and under the Destinations section from pages 16 to 22.

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