(Posted 06th January 2023)
Alain St Ange, the former Seychelles Minister for Tourism, Civil Aviation, Ports and Marine, has announced the upcoming launch of his new autobiography, “Alain St. Ange, My Journey”. I caught up with Alain to understand a little more about his new venture.
I’ve personally been at a conference in Uganda and heard your speech where you stated, “we are all Africans”. Were you always aware of your slave heritage?
Yes. As a family, we were always aware that we had at least one heritage line descended from a slave. Whilst researching for this book, we’ve since identified that we have in fact, two lines directly descended from former slaves in Seychelles.
How do you feel today about where you have reached in your life, knowing that only six generations before you, that you have ancestors who were freed and had to take the names of those who freed them?
I’m extremely proud of my heritage, knowing what I know today about the lives that my ancestors endured and lived. I’m also extremely proud of what I’ve achieved and experienced in my own lifetime and know deep down that many of their traits including the tenacity with which my ancestors approached their own lives with, has shone through in many of my own experiences.
The macabre chapter of Seychelles history and world history cannot be undone. The more I dug into the lives of my ancestors, the more I realised how hard their lives were. I am humbled to be one of their descendants.
Today, I’ve realised that the Seychelles Carnaval International de Victoria Melting Pot of Cultures reflects perfectly with my own family’s unique melting pot!
I can see that your book has allowed you to document a lot of history that will otherwise be lost to time. Can we expect this to be a historical resource?
Whilst a lot of emphasis has gone into the historical documentation to ensure that those who came before us are properly acknowledged for the important roles that they each played in our family and in Seychelles as well, this book also documents a more personal journey with the stories behind the events. I’ve included details around relationship breakdowns caused by politics, challenges and hardships faced by those before us, and the ability of our parents and grandparents to work the soil and create a solid foundation for the family.
This will be your 10th book that you’ve published or co-authored, demonstrating your love of writing and the continued commitment to documenting Seychelles’ history. What inspired you to write an autobiography now?
My first book was “Seychelles, what next?”, published in 1991. When researching for this book, I was arrested by the then one-party state Government of Seychelles as Seychelles State Security was concerned whether the book was going to be “for” or “against” the then President, Albert Rene. This incident was reported in the Indian Ocean Newsletter No. 462, 19/01/1991.
I was then living in self-exile in Australia and realised the importance of documenting history for future generations. I have since published and co-authored two further political books on Seychelles, a book dedicated to my father Karl St Ange, one on the history of State House and four tourism coffee table books highlighting the unique selling points of Seychelles.
My autobiography “Alain St. Ange, My Journey” chronicles my life from the La Digue Island boy, who was brought up to become a loving father and grandfather, and who rose through the ranks with hard work, tenacity, and an un-wavering passion for Seychelles.
This is a personal story, not only about a life that I’ve been proud to live, but about my family that helped shaped me into the man I became.
My love for history is why I’ve attempted to place on record not only my life, but also the family tree from which I descended as well as that of my wife Ginette St.Ange née Michel. This work is inspired by the desire to continue to document and preserve the rich history of our families for future generations. It’s said that most of us will be forgotten within 4 generations; hopefully this book can help our descendants understand where we came from and to not forget those that came before us.
Can you share some more details around your new book?
The book documents my life from birth, to education, through to my employment years including my time at the Ministry of Tourism. It includes details on my self-exile following termination of employment by Albert Rene in the early 1980’s, and subsequent re-employment into the Seychelles Tourism Board following a call by the Islands’ Tourism Private Sector Trade, through to my appointment as Minister of Tourism by James Michel.
The book covers my bid for the UNWTO (United Nations World Tourism Organization) position and the subsequent saga that ended with a court case against the Seychelles Government. The book ends with a section dedicated to Politics in Seychelles, from the family’s participation in the colonial era, right up to my own bid at the last Presidential elections.
Alain St. Ange, My Journey documents the construction of the ‘Cabanes Des Anges’ Hotel at La Digue in 1972, including never-seen-before photos forwarded by previous guests from the 1970’s, until it was acquired under duress by the Government of Albert Rene. This section includes extracts documenting what transpired in the recent sessions of the TRNUC (Truth & Reconciliation Committee).
A lot of the book has been dedicated to documenting and preserving the family historical lines from the different branches of my extended St Ange (Saint Ange) Family of Seychelles, including the Mellon, De Charmoy Lablache, and Savy families. I’ve also taken the opportunity to document and preserve the rich heritage of the Michel and Hunt families (through my wife, Ginette St.Ange née Michel).
This section includes as many birth and death certificates that we could find, their final resting places where available, as well as photos and some of their individual life stories. It was important that they weren’t forgotten, and my book gave us the repository to properly preserve their legacies.
Interspersed throughout the book are all the major events that I lived through and documented as seen through my eyes. These events include the construction of the US Tracking Station, the reclamation of Victoria, the first and only visit by Her Majesty QE Elizabeth II, the construction and opening of the Seychelles International Airport, the subsequent first aircraft landing in Seychelles, the first Seychelles festival in 1972, the launching of tourism in Seychelles, independence of the Islands from Great Britain in 1976, the Military Coup in 1977, and the return of multi-party democracy in 1993.
The book is written in an easy-to-read format where each photo speaks a thousand words and supported by little anecdotes providing a real sense of the time.
Do you have a launch date yet?
We are in final discussions with publishing houses, and I am still finalising details around the final size of the book which will impact on the final costs.
More information will be shared as soon as we go to print.
ATCNews expresses thanks to Alain St. Ange to permit us publish the interview as breaking news.