Seychelles – a lesson in diversity

21 July 2015

Seychelles – A colourful infusion of culture, art and life

The cosmopolitan Seychellois are a vibrant blend of people, an infusion of different races, cultures and religions. At different times in its history, people of African, European and Asian origin went to Seychelles, bringing with them their distinct traditions and customs and contributing to the way of life and to the vibrant Seychellois culture.

Seychellois culture and language

Today, the approximately 90,000 strong Seychellois population continues to reflect its multi-ethnic roots. Traditionally, the islands have attracted a broad diversity of people from all corners of the earth including; freed slaves, European settlers, political exiles, adventurers, traders of Arab and Persian origin as well as Chinese and Indians. Practically every nation on earth has been represented in this melting pot of cultures, each one contributing its special influence to today’s vibrant yet tranquil society. One can see these influences at work throughout the domains of local art, cuisine, music, dance and architecture.

The national language is Creole, adapted from 17th Century French, and like many people, peppered with influences from Africa and Madagascar. There are however three official languages in Seychelles: Creole (as mentioned), English and French. Many Seychellois are also fluent in Italian or German.

Seychellois architecture

The architectural design of some of the grand old houses with their steep roofs are representative of a style adapted for comfortable living in the tropics. The architecture displays influences from Seychelles’ French and British colonial heritage and modern architecture attempts to assimilate traditional styles with practical features designed to capture the island breezes.

Art and music

Local artists continue to exhibit diverse styles that echo the multi-ethnic backdrop of the islands and bear testament to the various influences which have come to bear. Creole music and dance have their roots in African, Malagasy and European cultures with rhythms traditionally accompanied by simple drums and string instruments which, today, include such recent imports as the violin and guitar.

The traditional moutya is an sensual dance derived from the days of slavery and still features today, together with the sega with its colourful lyrics; the kanmtole, reminiscent of a country reel, and the Kontredanse, an import from the French court.

Renowned for its diversity, The Seychelles Islands offer visitors a rich cultural experience. There is so much more to the islands than meets the eye.

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