SAAD ZAGHLOUL IN THE SEYCHELLES

Julien DURUP(A Student of History)

Saad Zaghloul Pasha ibn Ibrahim was an intelligent Egyptian national hero who arrived in exile in the Seychelles on 9 March 1922 on board the Clematis, a British man- of-war. Soon after his arrival he was known simply as ‘Pasha’. Pasha was born in July 1859 in the village of Ibyana, in the Nile Delta, from parents of modest means and his father died when he was only five years old. As a peasant, he managed to elevate himself to the rank of Pasha- title which was abolished by Egypt in 1950s.  

He started his post-secondary education at Al-Azhar University in Cairo, where he became a politician and was arrested and imprisoned by the British. After his incarceration, he practiced Law and became very active in nationalist movements. In 1918, he led a delegation in Paris which demanded complete independence from Britain.

The British in turn demanded that Pasha end his political agitation. When he refused, they exiled him to Malta along three other nationalists. This banishment caused the ‘first populace revolution’ in Egypt, and forced General Edmund Allenby, (“the bloody Bull”), to return him back to Egypt, where he was welcomed as a hero. At the end of 1921, he was rearrested and sent to the Seychelles, where he arrived with W Makram Ebied Bey, a cabinet minister ,who acted as interpreter and secretary. Four more ministers followed them and they were: M F Barakat Pasha, M A Barakat Bey, M E Nahas Bey, and Sinnot Hanna Bey along with a valet and cook for Pasha. They were lodged in three bungalows at Bel Air and Saint Louis. Pasha and his secretary were at Bel Air, and the remainder at Saint Louis.

During all his exile, his wife (of high birth) Sophia Moustafa Fahmi, preferred to stay behind to continue the struggle, and for that, she was later known as the “Mother of Egypt”. Sophia spoke many languages including French and was the daughter of Moustafa Fahmi Pasha (who was born in Crete of Turkish parents). Moustafa Fahmi Pasha was also a two -term Prime minister of Egypt.

Sophia was in touch with Mahatma Gandhi, and was known as Madame Zaghloul Pasha by the French community (including a few Seychellois) in Egypt. One of the Seychellois, Mrs Marie Guénard née Gardette ,a poet, wrote a poem in honour of her in April 1922. An enchanting poem titled “Autour de l’Exile”. She wrote many poems, one of them in May 1916 was dedicated to his nephew France Lanier, a volunteer in the French army. France died in action in Champagne-Ardenne during the First World War. During that time, many Seychellois fought and died for France, sadly no proper study had been done on them.

In the Seychelles, the authorities never imposed restriction on Pasha’s movements but he was never allowed to leave the Seychelles. As a friendly and pleasing man, and member of the ‘Freemasons’, Pasha frequented the very rich and influential families. He apparently did not invite people for banquets at his domicile, but attended dinner parties hosted by his ministers and regularly attended feasts at Government House. As a jovial man, who soon, according to oral tradition, fell in love with an aristocratic lady, who used to roam around Victoria in her rickshaw decorated with garlands? She was apparently Mrs Widow Edmée Anais Avice du Buisson née Morel. She later had two children (twins), (by him???????) and they were known as Marie Gaëtanne Avice du Buisson, and Joseph Gaëtan Avice du Buisson both born on 22 June 1923 at Mahé. They were known as Gaëtanne and Gaëtan. Gaëtanne according to hearsay had a very good resemblance of Pasha and she later left the Seychelles and married an Englishman and settled in England and Gaëtan seems also to have left the Seychelles.

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