For most of the world’s history, the Seychelles Islands remained untouched, shrouded in mystery and intrigue until it was stumbled upon by explorers. The story of this blossoming nation began a mere 250 years ago with the French establishing the first settlement on the tiny island of Ste. Anne.
Scattered in the middle of the Indian Ocean, the archipelago made its first appearance in 1503 when Portuguese explorer, Vasco da Gama, spotted the peaks of some islands on his journey from India. Soon after, the islands often sheltered lost ships and soon became a popular pirate hideaway.
However, it was not until August 27, 1770, when the first 28 settlers arrived upon “Telemaque” ship on Ste Anne Island that the country came into existence. 15 white colonists, 7 slaves, 5 Indians and 1 black woman were the first known inhabitants of Seychelles. Although the settlement bore little fruit, it paved way for the successful settlements that followed, all of which contributed to what is known today the Seychellois Creole culture and population.
August 27, 2020, as Seychelles commemorates its 250 anniversary, the history of the first settlers which resonates in the faces of its people, in the rhythm of its dances, the beat of its music and even in the flavours of its cuisine.
Our creole culture is the result of collective contribution from the original settlers with their vast ethnic backgrounds from the European settlers to the African slaves. Although the blend of races came to create what is now known as the Seychellois Creole culture, certain aspects of our European and African heritage are unmistakably visible, each in their unique way.
Our mother tongue, Creole, stems from a mixture of the European languages, namely French and English, and African dialect. The fierce movement of our moutya dance tells the tale of our African ancestors dancing around the campfire to the beating of drums after a day’s labor to escape their worries. Large colonial style houses with wide verandas echo European architecture, whilst our delectable cuisine bursts with the flavors bestowed upon us by our African ancestors.
Although Seychelles is a relatively young nation, as with every other country, it still faces the danger of its heritage being lost in the rise of Westernization. Therefore, it is our mission to keep the legacy of our ancestors alive through practices that are passed down from one generation to the next.
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In celebrating 250 years of Seychelles, we vow to embrace our heritage and preserve our culture. We must honor the roots, which have allowed the branches of the future to thrive.
Even though an important milestone for Seychelles as a country, the commemorations will take place in a somber mood with various small activities organised for the occasion; starting with a symbolic commemoration to mark the day will take place on Ste. Anne Island followed by an official commemoration at one of Seychelles Heritage village, the Domaine Val De pres.