GRAND PARADE THE GRANDEST YET
(Posted 24th April 2016)
(The two key drivers of the Seychelles Carnival, Tourism and Culture Minister Alain St. Ange and Sherin Naiken, CEO of the Seychelles Tourism Board)
It was a perfect day in Victoria, Seychelles’ capital city, when the parade of the Carnival International de Victoria went underway at 3 p.m. sharp.
A few clouds on the sky above, a cooling breeze from the ocean and a changed routing which provided much more space for the VIP’s, invited guests and media made for the type of conditions one normally hopes for but rarely gets.
Vice President Faure stood in for President James Alix Michel who after the official opening at the Stade Popiler had to travel abroad and former President Sir Mancham joined him and other dignitaries to enjoy the 2 hours long juggernaut of carnivalistas waltzing, dancing and – in some cases – somersaulting along.
23 foreign troupes of carnival’s best from around the world, led by Brazil, followed by the German ‘Karnevalsvereine‘ from Duesseldord and Cologne, the latter joining for the first time but arguably not the last, were joined by groups from Notting Hill, China, South Korea, Vietnam, Italy, Indonesia but also from co-hosts Reunion and South Africa, Kenya and Zambia, to name but a few. Dozens of local floats from the Seychelles took part too, their quality vastly improved over the years and in particular costumes now fit for textbooks and floats skilfully decorated, in part as a result of Notting Hill’s workshops, teaching Seychellois tailors and decorators how to go about this demanding business.
Spectators lined the new route like never before and already an hour before the parade started were the sidewalks packed, babies, kids, parents and grandparents all lined up to see this annual spectacle. The police showed off with their friendliest faces and kept smiling throughout as everyone else was on their best behaviour too.
eTN’s Nelson Alcantara critical look took even himself by surprise, one wonders what it was he saw, but needless to say, the lady copper next to him, full of smiles herself, probably made sure that his smiles too returned on the double.
And then the grand parade began,a two hour juggernaut of creativity and
carnivalista passion unrivalled in its global reach and variety.
Having carnival troupes from all over the world at the Seychelles Carnival makes it unique and provides spectators with an experience which in this format is not found anywhere else and no wonder did Seychelles’ Tourism Minister call the event the United Nations of Culture, prompting this correspondent to add the United Nations of Carnivalistas. The sheer variety of displays, costumes and performances have catapulted the Seychelles Carnival into the top 5 in the world, no doubt giving those who promoted the concept some well deserved satisfaction while putting their critics into place.
The parade mix between local and foreign displays too was well arranged and kept the audience cheering on their favourite local participants. Both the official opening and the parade brought out a combined thousands of Seychellois and also attracted hundreds of tourists who left the beaches to see this juggernaut, many of them in fact on the islands for that purpose of seeing the parade.
On Sunday, today, the Children’s Carnival is taking place, creating the next generation of Seychellois carnivalistas and Freedom Square is the place to be, filled with music, food and drink stalls to take care of that peckish feeling and that dry throat after cheering on the kids when they perform on stage, something many have rehearsed for since last year’s Carnival ended.
Also today will the Seychelles Tourism Board bring the Carnival to the second largest island of Praslin to showcase what many Pralinoise were unable to see, another first in the now 6 year history of this high profile showcase. There, at the La Pirogue Restaurant, will select groups of foreign participants do their thing, dance and sing and no doubt will tourists staying on Praslin also take the opportunity to cram into the venue for a glimpse of the world of carnivals coming to the Seychelles.