Festival Kreol

Every year for the past twenty six years, the people of Seychelles come together to pay homage to their culture.

The Festival Kreol is held every end of October and always represents beautiful Creole culture through food, art, music and more.  The week long celebration from the 20th of October to the 30th, is bursting at the seems with fun events. Restaurants also participate with special deals and activities to commemorate this week.

Despite the festival taking place in Seychelles on Mahé, Praslin and La Digue, the week long celebration recognizes and welcomes all Creole cultures from across the globe.

The itinerary for this years Festival Kreol is as follows

 

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!

Read All About It

Extra! Extra! Find out all about the beautiful Seychelles archipelago through a myriad of books; from art to local stories to scientific finds in bookstores in Victoria.

There is no friend as loyal as a book, said Ernest Hemingway and he is definitely not wrong. Books give a deeper insight into a topic that helps you to understand it better. On Mahé you can find novels and art that give you that edge. William McAteer has written a series of novels based on the rich and interesting history of Seychelles, starting with the first bout of settlers and the slaves they brought with them. His books bring about a new found knowledge in how the Seychellois culture was cultivated and made unique to its islands.
Find books by McAteer here for purchase online or at the Chanterelle and Antigone bookshops in Victoria.

Books that focus on art are also a big deal in Seychelles. Besides descriptive words, pictures play a powerful part in our lives. A famous artist on Mahé by the name of Michael Adams is responsible for a gorgeous book based on sketches of Seychellois’ he had been drawing since he arrived in Seychelles in 1972. ‘Island Souls‘ is a beautiful representation of Adams’ initial thoughts and views of the island when he first arrived and can be found at Chanterelle for purchase.

If you are more invested in the flora and fauna of the islands then perhaps a guidebook or scientific finds is what you need. There is a large accumulation of these types at the bookstores and even more at the one located at the airport.

Seychelles books are a great addition to your holiday and even your coffee table where they can be a proper conversation starter. One of the things we pride ourselves on as a nation is our beauty and culture and it is our honor to share them with everyone.

“There is no friend as loyal as a book.”
― Ernest Hemingway

 

La Digue Lounging

Get your luggage ready for some great activities to keep you busy while vacationing in the Seychelles Islands, specifically La Digue.

In this post I will be splitting up itineraries between three different holiday lengths on La Digue as well as appealing to people of all tastes.

4 DAYS LONG

Take it easy for your short holiday with these small suggestions.

  1. Beaches: Like every itinerary before, beaches are at the forefront of every trip to the islands. The pride of La Digue is Anse Source D’Argent and it’s not difficult to see why. This beach is an ideal spot for weddings and honeymooners. The clear turquoise water is relatively calm and perfect for swimming and snorkeling.
  2. Hiking: Get your hiking shoes on and head on over to the highest point on La Digue called Nid d’Aigle. You’ll be spending an average time of 3 hours on this trail, to and from, depending on how fast or slow you walk. Capture the most spectacular views of La Digue and neighboring islands from this point.
  3. Art: A definite must see on La Digue is the art gallery of George Camille, a famous artist here in the Seychelles Islands.

1 week vacation

One weeks seems like enough time to do some more activities and delve into the deep rich history of the island.

  1. Beaches: Go and relax on one of La Digue’s many secluded beaches for prime tanning and privacy.
  2. L’Union Estate: This piece of land covers over a third of La Digue and is a big tourist attraction. Here you can find an accumulation of local life activities and places of interest. The coconut farm which is found here shows demonstrations of extracting oil which is a staple in most Seychellois homes. Another tourist favorite is the tortoise park where you can take pictures with the giant land tortoises.
  3. La Digue Cemetery: Another small tourist attraction is the cemetery. This plot of land isn’t relatively spooky but it is home to many of the first settlers on the island.
  4. Ox Ride: Ride in style on carts pulled by large oxen, something that was very common for newly weds leaving the church back in the day. It may be a slow mode of transport but it is an experience, once you reach your destination you can carry on by foot or the preferred transport: bicycles.
  5. Eustache Sarde’s House: This beautiful house is one of the last remaining homes made out of timber in the whole of Seychelles.

2 weeks stay

Try different things while you extend your stay.

  1. Beaches: Lengthen your summer tan on the various beaches La Digue has to offer.
  2. Veuve Reserve: Find out more about La Digue’s endemic animals and plants at this small but beautiful nature reserve in the forest.
  3. Island Hopping: Find yourself a boat charter and check out the other islands that surround La Digue. Find out about their specific history and facts!
  4. Restaurants and Bars: Entice your taste buds with delicious creole cooking from a large variety of restaurants and bars.
  5. Helicopter Rides: See the island from a birds eye view with a lovely helicopter ride that takes off from La Digue.
  6. Lafet La Digue: This event more commonly known as the Feast of Assumption in English, is a major event that is marked in every Seychellois’ calendar from every island. On the 15th of August everyone comes down to celebrate the Virgin Mary and partake in the open-air mass and procession. The festivities continue with street parties, live music shows and food-stalls for both locals and visitors alike.

Find a full list of beaches here.

Find the Mahé itinerary here and the Praslin itinerary here.