250TH ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATIONS SUBDUED DUE TO PANDEMIC RESTRICTIONS
(Posted 28th August 2020)
2020 was a year that Seychelles Tourism was looking forward to for several reasons. First was a new arrival record anticipated, reaching the 400.000 arrivals figure for the first time ever. Secondly and perhaps more important, has the country been building up to the 250th anniversary when the islands were first settled on a permanent basis.
Years of planning and preparations unfolded and today was to be the day when, with the actual date calling, a megafest of activities and events was to unfold for tourist visitors and locals alike.
It was on the 27th of August of 1770 – if records can be believed – when 15 French, 5 Indians and 7 Africans laid the foundation of what has today become an independent nation of just under 100.000 inhabitants, united by the Creole language and the truest rainbow nation anywhere in the world.
They were at the time no doubt more concerned with making a living and surviving from day to day than looking 250 years ahead, when they started the first permanent settlement of what was later on to become the Seychelles.
Changing hands between British and French a few times was it left to the United Kingdom to give the archipelago its independence on the 29th of June 1976, when the paradise islands become an independent nation.
Before then was it a checkered history going back into the 16th century, when Western seafarers caught sight of the islands – but before then undoubtedly others had seen the islands and made landfall.
Down History Lane (Courtesy of Wikipedia)
The recorded history of Seychelles dates back to the fourth of the Portuguese India Armadas led by Vasco da Gama. On 15th of March 1503, the scrivener Thomé Lopes (No relative of mine, but who knows) noted the sighting of an elevated island, doubtless one the granitic islands and almost certainly Silhouette Island. The first recorded landing was by the men of the English East India Company ship Ascension, which arrived in Seychelles in January 1609. The islands were claimed by France in 1756. Seychelles remained uninhabited until the first settlers arrived on board the ship Thélemaque, which arrived on 27th of August 1770. Captain Leblanc Lecore landed the first colonists, comprising 15 white men, eight Africans and five Indians.
The Seychellois Creole language developed as a means of communication between the different races. The British frigate Orpheus commanded by Captain Henry Newcome arrived at Mahé on 16th of May 1794. Terms of capitulation were drawn up and the next day Seychelles was surrendered to Britain. Following the fall of Mauritius to British forces, Captain Phillip Beaver of the Nisus arrived at Mahé on 23rd of April 1811 and took possession of Seychelles as a permanent colony of Britain. The Seychelles became an independent republic in 1976. Following a coup d’état, a socialist one-party state ruled the country from 1977 to 1993 when the country returned to multi party politics.
The Seychelles Tourism Board has been working on a virtual celebration of the event, so that the story can be told as best as possible in this pandemic enforced use of the cyberspace.
Mrs. Sherin Francis, CEO of Tourism Seychelles and Chairperson of the Anniversary Organizing Committee, during a ceremony held yesterday on the island of St. Anne, where the settlers first arrived, was quoted saying: ‘This celebration should be taken as a time to reflect on the journey that we have undergone and look towards the future on how we can continue to have this unity as a small nation that has achieved a lot during this short period of time. There is a debate that we have prepared as well as a series of documentation, all of which will give the public the chance to appreciate this event. Later on during the year, we will have other activities, such as the launching of our book and the unveiling of a monument, which had to be postponed or were delayed due to the pandemic. As Ste Anne is the place that this event took place, it was important that we at least carry out a small symbolic ceremony here to honour the date and the place. The event is historical and important.‘
From ATCNews it is Happy 250th Anniversary to all our friends on the islands and all the Seychellois across the world.