CELEBRATING HERITAGE – AN INTEGRAL PART OF THE SEYCHELLES CULTURE
(Posted 21st April 2016)
Coming to the Seychelles always allows for a lot more exploration and discovery than ‘Just the Carnival‘ which in itself of course has become a brand of its own and is, no doubt, the archipelago’s most high profile event across the year.
However, anyone not going into greater depths while on the islands will arguably miss the point and miss out big time, like a visit to the Heritage Foundation offices yesterday revealed.
It was the day when the Seychelles Heritage Week came to a close and a series of activities took place across the main islands to celebrate history and culture, allowing a peek into past days with an eye on the future.
In particular school children, now on holiday here in the Seychelles, were brought on board and it is understood that a number of school based heritage clubs do exist to bring the archipelago’s illustrious past to the attention of the next generation.
A major function was held at Venn’s Town, often written about here, where the first ever school for children of freed slaves was built in the 1870’s, a site popular with tourists for the view but more so with history buffs who come to see the well preserved ruins. It is now only a matter of time before, when additional facilities are complete, like a visitor reception centre, that UNESCO is expected to inscribe Venn’s Town, aka Mission Lodge, into its list of World Heritage Sites.
Among the many activities were notably a game day where pupils were able to learn the traditional games being played by their forebears and ancestors, keeping the memory of such traditions alive.
New information boards were put up at several places which should make it into the ‘must visit‘ lists of visitors to the islands, as there is truly a lot more to the Seychelles than just sea, sand, sun and fun.
In the recent past has the Heritage Foundation developed the Praslin Heritage Route, giving locals and tourists alike an insight of what was, what is and everything in between and, on the main island of Mahe, published a booklet of sites of interest in the island district of Port Glaud, the first of more planned to eventually cover the entire island.
In a related development has the Acting Director General of the Department of Culture, which oversees the National Museum, also confirmed that the location of the new proposed Maritime Museum has been decided. Besides the Natural History Museum, which also contains a small but interesting Herbarium, will the new facility broadly concentrate on all aspects of shipping and seafarers over the centuries. It will be built on Hodoul Island which is near the Marine Charter Marina in Victoria.
Meanwhile is the Natural History Museum, just a stone throw away from the famous Clocktower, open for visitors and an ongoing exhibition of some 20 species of sharks will give visitors an insight into the rich marine life found offshore. Several school groups were visiting including one from Praslin as part of their holiday activities to learn more about the island’s past.
Another section houses the exhibits of how the islands were initially formed by granite and coral, and reportedly, in the case of Silhouette, there is now an open question if it may after all be a volcanic island. The oldest piece of rock, taken from an offshore drill, was in fact dated back some 180 million years.
The Aldabra Atoll also features in the museum but it is understood that many exhibits are kept in storage due to the very limited space available, perhaps a reminder for government that a new state of the art museum would now be overdue to widen the range of displays and more comprehensively feature the archipelago’s natural attractions. It would no doubt be a crowd puller from among tourists, especially those who arrive on cruise ships and are keen to cram in as much as they can during the day visits.
All this goes to show, that when coming to the Seychelles, for the Carnival International de Victoria or any other major event like the Festival Kreol, there is a lot more to discover and explore, one only has to know where to look.
Seychelles, truly Another World.