The eyes of the global carnivalistas are this weekend on the Seychelles


(Posted 25th April 2015 and reporting from Beau Vallon Bay)

When the Seychelles’ Minister for Tourism and Culture, Alain St. Ange, last year responded to my questions after a successful Seychelles Carnival 2014 parade, what would be next, he with that broad trademark smile on his face answered ‘When you come back next year you will see, it will be bigger and better than ever before’ and going by the opening ceremony at the Stade Popilar he had made no empty promises.

Royalty and political heavyweights from other Vanilla islands were assembled on the main VIP balcony of the stadium, from the King of the Ashanti in Ghana to Her Royal Highness, the Chief Maiden of the Kingdom of Swaziland to the Deputy Prime Minister of Mauritius and the President of the Regional Council of the French Region of Reunion where they were joined by President James Alix Michel for the opening gala.

Carnival heavyweights Brazil, Notting Hill and Germany are joined by many acclaimed troupes from around the world, who have all come to the paradise islands of the Seychelles to strut their stuff, bring the crowd to their feet and thrill the spectators when later today the parade waltzes through the city centre of Victoria.

A total of 31 carnival troupes and country representatives, among them a group of Masai from Kenya, performers from Zambia and drummers and dancers from KwaZulu Natal are ready to rumble and if the opening night ceremony is anything to go by it will be fun galore when the foreign performers are joined on the streets of Victoria by some 30 local floats showcasing what they schemed up and prepared over the past few weeks.

The show on stage kicked off with the official carnival songs of past events before guests were treated to an explosion of colours, movements and sounds from those lined up to give the crowd which filled the stadium a sneak preview of what they can expect during the parade.

From the more serious performance of the Swedes to the thrilling display of the dancers from Mauritius and Brazil and of course those from Africa was the night filled with constant camera flashes which lit up the stage even more.

The Seychelles of course is more than just their most visible festival of the year and visitors to the islands can choose from many resorts, some of them among the most fancied in the whole world. Magnificent beaches await those who, after watching the carnival parade and mingling among locals during the after parties, come back to their hotels at the crack of dawn and take a walk along the beaches. This weekend of course will all be about the Carnaval de Carnivals, the Carnival International de Victoria 2015 which in the short space of just 5 years has already gained global recognition and is now ranked as among the top five carnival shows. It is for the carnival that the Prinzengarde from Duesseldorf has taken their costumes out of the mothballs and flown to Mahe and it is for the carnival that Zambians, Swazis and Kenyans have travelled to Victoria, to be part of what has become a rainbow of nations helping to celebrate alongside a nation which like no other is a reflection of the rainbow and brings all cultures, religions and ethnicities together in harmony.

The Ashanti King in his opening message appealed to the world to take the Seychelles as an example of how to learn to live together in peace and a YouTube upload of his entire speech, perhaps a little shaky, will be made available in due course. It was a moving recollection of how his ancestors a hundred and fourteen years ago were exiled by the British usurpers and how they ended up in the Seychelles where the local people accorded them respect and a home in exile before decades later they were allowed to return home to Ghana. Here, more than in any other address, it became apparent that Seychelles is an integral part of Africa and heritage and connections like the Ghanaian one have left an imprint on life across the archipelago.

That all said, the staff of the Seychelles Tourism Board were once again magnificent, from meeting delegations and VIP’s off the plane, fast tracking them through the airport and whisking them off to their respective hotels as they had to deal with over a hundred media representatives on top of it all.

All eyes are now of course on this afternoon’s parade and be sure to watch this space to read about it and enjoy the pictures due here overnight.