A Brief History of Seychelles

According to historians, Vasco de Gama came across islands as he was traveling from India to East Africa in 1503. These islands then became known as the Amirantes. In the year of 1608, the East India Trading Company came across land that was in abundance of resources after getting caught in a storm. Despite reporting the island they inhabited for a short time, the British took no claim over the land.

The Isle de France which is now known as Mauritius had been occupied by the French since 1715 and by 1742, an administrator by the name of Bertrand-François Mahé de La Bourdonnais sent an expedition under the command of Lazare Picault to chart the islands northeast of Madagascar.

By November of the same year, the boats Elizabeth and Charles had anchored in Mahé at Anse Boileau and Ile d’Abondance was born. However, due to the fact that the mapping was so poor, Picault headed back to the island in 1744 and renamed it Mahé after La Bourdonnais. The islands ended up being forgotten two years later once La Bourdonnais was replaced.

The Seven Years War between England and France in 1754, reminded the authorities of Mauritius and its neighboring islands and thus two ships were sent to claim them once more. Under the command of Corneille Nicholas Morphey, the largest island was renamed Isle de Séchelles in honor of Viscount Jean Moreau de Séchelles. This name then became Anglicized as Seychelles and was then used as the name for the entire group of islands; Mahé becoming the largest island once more.

After the French Revolution, a Colonial Assembly was formed by the settlers on Mahé In 1790. It was decided that they would run their colony themselves, according to their own constitution.

In 1794, Jean-Baptiste Queau de Quincy took command of the colony, making Seychelles a haven for French corsairs. Despite trying to stay under the radar, in 1794, three British ships arrived under commodore Henry Newcome to Mahé. He gave Quincy an hour to surrender.

Alas, the British didn’t feel the need to claim Seychelles due to the fact that they believed it to be a waste of resources. This made the island a neutral ground to British and French folk alike, supplying newcomers.

If you fast forward to the British rule of Seychelles, around 2.400 men women and children were brought to the islands over a period of thirteen years from 1861.

The main town had been known as Victoria since 1841 and was growing exponentially. By 1879 there were a range of businesses in town; two auctioneers, five retailers, four  liquor stores, an attorney and a watchmaker to name a few.

When Seychelles wanted to become a colony in its own right, the Mauritian governor of the mother colony sent a petition to London but Seychelles did not become a Crown Colony until 1903 when Sir Ernest Bickham Sweet-Escott became Governor. The French language remained dominant and the botanical gardens were created along with the clock tower residing in the heart of Victoria.

But just like the French, the British saw Seychelles as the perfect place for exiling political prisoners.

It was not until 1964 that any new political movements were created, giving birth to the Seychelles People’s United Party led by France-Albert René. The party rallied for socialism and independance from British rule. The late James Mancham’s party called the Seychelles Democratic Party, represented businessmen and planters and wanted closer integration with Britain.

When the elections began in 1966, SDP won. Further elections in November 1970 brought about a new constitution, putting Mancham as Chief Minister. With elections in 1974, both parties ended up campaigning for independence. After that election the British agreed to allow Seychelles to become independent under the Commonwealth on June 29th, 1976. Sir James Mancham became the first President and René as Prime Minister.

René, however was not satisfied and threw a coup d’état on the 5th of June. 1977, overthrowing Mancham while he was overseas. This resulted in Seychelles becoming a one party state for the next 16 years. A number of Seychellois were displaced and exiled within these times

On December 4th, 1991, President René  announced the return of the multiparty system.

This failed to remove President René and his political party from the Presidency and the now SPPF, remained in power for the next 22 years.

By 2016, and after years of losing presidential elections, the opposing party SNP joined forces with other oppositions in the National Assembly elections. This resulted in a 15 to 10 district win for the newly formed LDS, and the first time in 38 years that there was a new party that claimed the majority of parliament.

A Brief History on Food and Dance

Two main things most people would associate with Seychelles could be argued as food and dance. These two things almost always go hand in hand and are incredibly popular among Seychellois and tourists alike. The traditional music and dance shows the culturally diverse background of our nation’s history.

Seychellois Dance

There happens to be a plethora of different traditional dances that are practiced in Seychelles but I will be writing about my three favorite.

The Moutia is a fan favorite with its percussion and string instruments. It contains foreign influences from when Seychelles had been colonized by the French in the 18th century followed by the British in the 19th. They brought about the guitar and violin which play a large part in Seychelles’ music today.

The Sega dance is the most popular of dance styles; the go to when learning Seychelles’ dances. With its characteristic hip-swaying movements, it is believe that it began with the slave population on the islands of Reunion and Mauritius. Sega music is traditionally performed with hand drums and rattles. while the feet remain planted on the floor in a rhythmic shuffle.

Kanmtole music is always fun to listen to. It bears a resemblance to the French Royal Court’s contredanse as well as Scottish square dancing. Accompanied by an accordion, violin and banjos, the contredanse was a French version of English country dances integrated with steps typical of the French court. Dating from the early 19th century, the kanmtole is a lively blend of all these dance styles.

Other musical styles in Seychelles include hip-hop, country, modern jazz, rock, ballads and choirs performing traditional popular, sacred, ancient and evangelical music. It’s thanks to Seychelles’ diverse past that these music and dance styles have evolved over the centuries to give the nation its rich musical heritage.

Seychellois Cuisine

Fish is definitely a big player in Seychellois cuisine and fishing happens to play a large part in our Blue Economy. Fish can be prepared in several ways, including, but not limited to: steamed, grilled, baked, boiled, fried, salted, smoked and wrapped in banana leaves. However, fish isn’t the only sea dweller that locals enjoy to catch and eat.

Other big ‘fish’ that were consumed in most Seychellois homes back in the day, included dolphin and turtles which were known as manze rar; rare food. These meats have since been forbidden by local authorities and marine parks, but some still risk it for that old Creole feeling. Sharks however, are fair game. One thing Seychellois can pride themselves in is using every part of the animals they consume. For shark you can make soup, salads/chutneys, curries and more with different parts respectively. Shark chutney, a personal favorite, typically consists of boiled, finely mashed skinned shark, and cooked with lime and bilimbi juice. Fried onions and spices are mixed along with it and makes this a perfect side dish or samosa filling.

Another type of meat that is popular in Seychelles is bat meat. Bat curry is something that can be found in authentic creole restaurants who can gain access to these creatures and is a great delicacy. Other curries can be found in almost any crock pot on the island! These curries can vary from salty to spicy, coconut cream enriched to tangy. Rice is also available with any meal.

Growing up, my family would enjoy eating a dish called ‘ladob’. Depending on the ingredients, I always found it to have a strange smell and was never fond of it, whether it was in savory or dessert form. The savory version usually had salted fish along with plantain, cassava or breadfruit with salt and boiled with coconut milk until soft. Its dessert dish omitted the fish (thank goodness!) along with the salt. It could be cooked with plantain, bananas, corossol, sweet potatoes, cassava or breadfruit and was seasoned in coconut milk with sugar, nutmeg and vanilla pods.

A few delicacies and specialty dishes include:

Bouyon bred
Kari bernik
Cassava pudding
Satini reken
Kat-kat banan
Salad palmis
Tec tec soup
Kari sousouri

Find more information on Creole cooking here.

A Brief History Lesson on Folklore

The history of folklore in Seychelles, stems from fantastic storytellers and singers that pass on rich Seychellois culture through fables, proverbs and songs.

Since the first settlers, Seychelles has been responsible for its own history and culture that it puts out. Folklore plays a large part of that. Old sayings, riddles and stories were a way of explanation and entertainment for children and adults alike. Like most educational stories, these had morals to them that would teach children a proper way to live as they grew up.

Apart from theses fables, ghost stories were and still play a large part in Seychelles legends. Tales of superstition and spells were a means of Instilling fear in disobedient children, as most spooky stories do. Despite the fact that not all the tales of ghosts and ghouls might be real, the reactions that they would receive were enough for people to believe in.

Small innocuous superstitions that were told to children, including myself were that whistling in the house was bad luck as well as having your feet swept would make sure you never married. A majority of other superstitions can be found linked to money; if you happened to sweep money, you would lose what you earned or sweeping after 6 would result in sweeping your money away.

Other superstitions include:

– If a cockerel sings during the day, it announces a visitor
– Dropping a fork during dinner announces a male visitor, dropping a spoon announces a female visitor.
– If you eat from the pot, it will rain on your wedding day.
– Do not start a project on a Friday, you will surely fail.
– Do not play with fire, you will wet your bed.
– Do not give someone money through the window or you will be ruined.
– Do not allow a baby to stare into a mirror, he/she will not grow teeth.
– Do not lend your broom to anyone, it will rob you of your luck.
– Do not count stars, you will get warts.
– Pointing at vegetables will stop them from growing
– Staring at a pregnant woman will result in an eye infection
– If you get pimple around your mouth, someone likes you

If one thing is for certain, superstitions can be funny to read about and even make you cautious!

Travel Essentials

When you are making your way to the beautiful islands of Seychelles, make sure you have fully researched all necessary items and papers you may need as well as other essentials when arriving.

Visas

Visas are not a requirement for tourists to come visit however you will need a valid passport from date of entry to exit from Seychelles, a return or onward ticket, contact details for your stay as well as sufficient funds for your duration of your stay. Once you have presented this information, a Visitor’s Permit will be issued to you upon arrival by the Department of Immigration. This Permit is free and valid for up to a month and can be extended to three months. After the three month duration, renewal of the Permit will cost SCR 5,000.

duty free

Now that you’ve made it through customs, you should head over to the Duty Free, but not before being aware of what you can buy and how much. Each person is allowed the following.

  • 2 liters of spirits
  • 2 liters of wine
  • 200 cigarettes or 250g of tobacco
  • 200ml of Parfume or Eau de Toilette
currency

Once you’ve left the Duty Free you probably want to change currency. The Seychelles Rupee is the local currency; coins come in 5, 10, 25 cents and 1, 5, 10 Rupees. The notes are available in 25, 50, 100 and 500 Rupees. When exchanging foreign currency, it is highly advised to do so at banks, authorized money changers or other licensed operators. Do no exchange money with random individuals as it is a criminal offense!
If you prefer to handle your money in card form then you should know that Visa and MasterCard are accepted anywhere with a card machine. ATM’s can be found in a variety of places around Mahé, Praslin and La Digue and dole out cash in Rupees only.

public holidays

Another thing that might be important to note is Public Holidays due to the fact that a majorty of businesses in town are closed for business on those special days.

Official:
New Year – 1st & 2nd January
Labour Day – 1st May
Constitutional Day – 18th June
National Day – 29th June

Religious:
Good Friday – 14th April
Easter Sunday – 16th April
Corpus Christi – 15th June
Assumption Day – 15th August
All Saints’ Day – 1st November
Immaculate Conception – 8th December
Christmas Day – 25th December

Find various medical practices here, information here, and transport here.

 

Is It Time Yet?

When people think of Seychelles, they think of sandy beaches and crystal clear waters. They think of a rich culture and traditions, food and art. What they forget about is the perfect time to visit. This doesn’t mean that it’s not beautiful all year round, but certain people prefer certain things.

The golden rule of traveling to anywhere in the world is that you make sure you know what the weather is going to be like. You need this information so you can pack accordingly of course.

Now just because we have gorgeous beaches doesn’t mean they can’t get a little rough at times, which is why it is important to take into account the wind patterns and their effect on the seas.

We have two opposing trade winds that are in charge of the weather here. From May to October you can get the south-east winds coming in that bring about a relatively dry period on the islands. The southern beaches of Mahé get rougher during this time as well and it is always advisable to be on the safe side when going swimming.

The north-westerly winds begin in November, making December to March the wettest times of year and April being the calmest month of the year. The northern beaches of Mahé tend to get rougher during these months.

Another factor that plays into the interests of tourists, is events occurring around specific months. Sailing and snorkeling are a year round thing that no one ever really misses out on. Diving however, is preferable around March to May and September to November. The fishing season becomes popular around October all the way to April and hikes are recommended during the dry season. The bird watching on Bird Island has a couple of popular times; April is the peak breeding season making May to September the nesting months followed by migration in October.

Find a selection of excursions here.

Catch of the Day

If you’re big on fishing on the open seas, then Seychelles is the best place. Not only is there a wider variety but the fish almost always tastes better than anywhere else in the world. However, fishing isn’t just that; you have to be more specific and figure it exactly what it is that you want to do.

Big Game Trolling

With Big Game Trolling, it is all about the adrenaline coursing through your veins as you come face to face with some of the fastest and largest predators of the Indian Ocean. Feeling the almost violent struggle of the larger catch is enough to get you going. Sailfish happens to be a fan favorite in Seychelles as it is one of the most reliable fishing grounds for such. These intense creatures are in abundance all year round so you can most likely be lucky in catching one without venturing far out to sea. Other large game include, Yellowfin Tuna, Black Marlin,, Dogtooth Tuna, Bluefin and Jobfish to name a few.

Bottom Fishing

If you want to go a more traditional route of fishing then you should try Bottom Fishing, a big favorite among locals. To achieve this method, one needs a strong handline, 4-6 hooks with bait and a heavy sinker. This allows a wider range of catch seeing as that it is able to capture any species of fish around. If you are looking to catch as many different species of fish as you can, then this is the sport for you.

Fly Fishing

Fly Fishing can be achieved from either a boat or the from the shallows around the inner islands. The Outer most islands remain untouched by this sport. The variety that is available is as wide as that associated with Bottom Fishing.

Jig fishing

Jigging is considered an active fishing method due to the fact that it requires a lot of snapping and jerking of the rod tip. This is to make sure that the bait looks injured enough that game fish is wiling to bite. A normally long, thin jig is dunked into the water and retrieved quickly through short pulls up to the surface.

Popping

Popping is more on the extreme side of fishing and to be successful in your endeavors you must have a skipper with this experience who can position the boat in such a way in rough waters. A strong tackle is also important as well as reels that can withstand drag power of 20kg upwards.

Spin Fishing

Spin fishing is a technique wherein a spinning lure is used to entice fish into biting. This is done in both the open seas of Seychelles as well as in the flats. Depending on the type of fish you are willing to go after, your equipment should be chosen to carry the weight and speed of your catch. Spin fishing is distinguished between fly fishing by the type of rod and reel used.

For a list of fishing operators please click here.

‘I Do’

Destination weddings are in high demand as of late, especially where islands are concerned! If you’re ready to tie the knot then you should check out the Seychelles Islands as your ideal wedding location.

These gorgeous islands have be a hot spot for romance among many celebrities who have fallen to the beauty of the white, sandy beaches and crystal clear waters. As paparazzi snap their photos and magazines gossip on their vacations, Seychelles becomes more and more tantalizing to those who wish to get away with their significant other. The Seychelles Archipelago began gaining such endorsement when the newly-wed Duke and Duchess of Cambridge chose to honeymoon here.

Where honeymoons on the various islands are popular among celebrities, so are the actual weddings; beach weddings to be exact.

Various hotels deal in special packages for those who are ready to commit, including seven nights stays for most. Depending on your budget, it is always important to check up on these things prior to booking a plane ticket.

The best time of year varies on Mother Nature. The weather in Seychelles varies due to trade winds. From the months of October to April, you can find the winds coming in from the North which allow for more gentle breezes and safer swimming in the South. The only downside is that these months are more susceptible to rain especially around November to January.

From May to September, expect a drier climate. The winds head in from the south east and normally affect the beaches on the Southern parts of Mahé, making the waters to rough to swim in. The northern coast is relatively calm during these periods. The seas also make boat trips rougher when crossing between islands so flying is more advisable to those with sea sickness during these times.

Depending on where you stay, a hotel can most definitely organize a hairdresser and florist for the wedding package. However, if you prefer to plan yourself you can find a list of Beauty and Hairdressers and Spas and Fitness.

One must always be aware of the legal requirements that are needed before getting hitched, especially in a different country. It is always important to be prepared so your wedding can go as smooth as possible. A full list of legal requirements and rules can be found here.

 

Wedding Requirements

Before tying the knot, make sure you are made aware of the legal requirements for marrying in Seychelles.

  1. Church weddings without a civil ceremony  are not recognized as being legal and the parties must therefore contract a civil wedding prior to the religious ceremony.
  2. Persons wishing to organize their own wedding must apply to the Seychelles Civil Status Office in Victoria on Mahé for a civil ceremony and the relevant church body for the religious ceremony.
  3. Civil ceremonies may be conducted around the hotel property with permission from both
    the hotel and the Civil Registrar. Weddings outside the hotel property can only be
    performed in private and authorised places. The authorisation needs to be obtained from
    the Civil Registrar.
  4. The Civil Status Office must be made aware of a wedding date at least eleven calendar
    days in advance. The eleven-day period may be exempted by applying for a Special Licence, normally issued within two days from the date of application at a charged fee.
  5. Plan your wedding at least two months in advance to allow for the processing of documentation.
  6. The couple must be present in Seychelles at least 2 days prior to the civil ceremony.
  7. Weddings can also be performed in the Civil Status Office on Tuesdays and Thursdays
    between 0900hrs and 1100hrs, in the presence of two witnesses provided by the parties
    themselves.
  8. Couples wishing to marry outside the Civil Status Office will be required to pay a fee. This
    fee applies to ceremonies held on any weekday on Mahé or one of the Inner Islands (Inner Islands include: Anonyme, Bird, Cerf, Cousine, Denis, Frégate, La Digue, Moyenne, North, Praslin, Round, Ste Anne, and Silhouette). The transportation cost for the Registrar officer must be covered by the couple to travel to these islands. Civil Status Officers can also be found on both Praslin and La Digue.
  9. Couples wishing to marry on one of the Outer Islands, including Alphonse or Desroches, will
    be required to pay a different fee plus the transportation cost to these islands for the Registrar officer.
  10. A fee is charged for ceremonies held after 1700hrs on a weekday or at any time on a Saturday and Sunday.
  11. Legally conducted marriages in Seychelles are recognized under European laws.
  12. There are no nationality requirements that need to be fulfilled.
  13. A special stamp (apostille) is required to validate the marriage certificate obtained after the
    civil ceremony for all nationalities except for British nationals. This stamp is available at the
    Registrar’s office located at the Supreme Court for a fee of SCR140.
  14. The couple must produce the following documents:
    – Birth certificate or certified copy thereof
    – If either party is divorced, the decree of divorce must be produced
    – If either of the parties is a widow or widower the death certificate of the former spouse must be produced
    – Legal proof in the case of a name having been changed
    – Copies of the first 2 pages of both parties’ valid passports
    – Document to show that there is no impediment or lawful hindrance to the intended marriage (If this cannot be obtained, an affidavit has to be signed in Seychelles after a solemn declaration has been made to that effect)
  15. All the above documents must be originals or copies duly certified before departure from
    one’s home country and must be translated into either English or French if the translation
    has not already been made.
  16. French law requires that French nationals wishing to get married abroad follow certain specific procedures. For information concerning these, contact either your local
    municipality or the Seychelles Civil Status Office or the French Embassy in Seychelles.

Seychelles Civil Status Office
PO Box 430, Victoria, Mahé
Tel: +248 4 29 36 13 / 4 29 36 04
Fax: +248 4 32 10 46
Email: info@civilstatus.gov.sc
Opening hours: Mon-Fri: 0800hrs-1130hrs & 1300hrs-1500hrs
Closed on weekends and public holidays.

French Embassy of Seychelles
1st Floor, La Ciotat Building
Mont Fleuri, Mahé
Tel: +248 4 38 25 00
Fax: +248 4 38 25 10
Email: marie-may.confiance@diplomatie.gouv.fr
Opening hours: Mon-Fri: 0800hrs-1300hrs & 1400hrs-1700hrs

Paint Me A Picture

Art is one of the best ways to express yourself in the world, a way to make your mark and say “Hey world, look at me.”

In Seychelles we are home to a vast majority of artists who continue to grace our nation with gorgeous pieces of work. From sculptors to painters and poets to writers, we have it all.

There are an array of studios found all over Mahé which are open to the public to view. There you can catch a glimpse of the artists mind and see what they brought to fruition through pure determination.

Sculptors in Seychelles can almost be evenly divided in half by topic; sculptures of women and figures can claim some where others decide to reclaim waste and turn it into art instead.

Painting on canvas however usually always has the same theme. The beautiful landscape of Seychelles can always be depicted with broad brushstrokes and bright colors. When the lush nature isn’t being captured, the people of Seychelles are seen in various day to day poses that enrapture the realness of Seychellois culture.

Art has proven to be a great way for people to express themselves and be seen or heard. Chatterbox has begun hosting an open mic night known as “Word Up” where people of all ages can speak their minds through slam poetry or smaller poems. Based on certain topics, these stories can shed light on what people are feeling at the time about the subject and open people up to new opinions and views.

This is the power of art; it connects people through various mediums and topics and either starts a conversation or continues it. It’s supposed to make you wonder and ask questions and evoke emotions that you might not have been aware were there.

The artists of Seychelles also wish to do this with their work and so far seem to be succeeding in such.

Find a list of galleries and information, here.

Weekend Wildin’

Lately it’s been difficult to find a certain activity to do during the weekend, but once you find somewhere that suits you, then you should be set!

In the day time, a variety of activities can be done such as zip lining and water sports found on separate parts of the island of Mahé respectively.

Zip Lining at the Constance Ephelia Resort in Port Launay is a great way to bring out your inner dare devil. Have your body safely secured and whiz through an exhilarating view of lush green forests and feel as if you are truly flying. It’s an experience that everyone should have at least once in their life!

Other outdoorsy activities can include hiking up gorgeous mountains and capturing incredible views, golfing to your heart’s content or horse back riding on a beach as the sun sets.

The water sports found mainly on Beau Vallon beach, are perfect for a sunny day. The crystal clear waters make activities even more enticing. With Mamila you can enjoy several different things such as jet skiing, canoeing, banana boating and parasailing. They’re a sure fire way to cool off from a hectic week!

Other water based activities can include boat charters, which you can find out more about here, or fishing.

A majority of the locals and tourists end up on Eden Island on a Friday night. Here on the man made island you can find a variety of restaurants and bars to wine and dine in. Specific restaurants and bars include but are not limited to Bravo, 1770 Brewery Ltd, Grand Havana, The Maharajas and The Boardwalk.

The latter is also a focal point for entertainment after certain hours. On the weekends The Boardwalk becomes a perfect place for dancing and drinking with friends. Other nightclubs/bars are Katiolo, Rogan’s Irish Bar and The Barrel Nightclub.

If  dancing isn’t your thing then maybe gambling? Casino’s on Mahé are a great way to sit and hang out with friends while trying to get lucky with games. At the Gran Kaz casino you can enjoy cocktails while betting and playing cards to live music. Amusement Center is usually more crowded due to it’s more affordable drinks and fun atmosphere on the weekends.

Our island may be small but I assure you that we have our fair share of entertainment to keep everyone busy!