REVIEW (BOOKS IN KREOL/FRENCH/ENGLISH PLUS TRANSLATIONS)
The author, an outstanding performer from Seychelles’ musical scene for decades, wrote and staged in 1984 the musical ‘Kastor”. This was probably the first and only play depicting slavery in Seychelles at the beginning of the 19th century.
For the Manager of the National Folkloric Troupe, his hero Kastor, a slave, (from the “Makonde tribe” one historian wrote) was a reputed maroon leader.
Historical documents indicate that in a letter to the Colonial Secretary in 1833, the Civil Agent Harrison wrote of an …. “unusual” recruit in the Police Force , that is a…. “negro Commandeur”, known as “Castor”.
“This slave had been leader of a gang of maroons but, after living in the forest for 3 or 4 years, had given himself up”….historian Webb wrote, but he added that he was used by the Civil Agent to capture his comrades.
The author and playwright sets out to prove that his Kastor was not a traitor and that the historical document could have been an “invention” of his colonial masters.
In the last scene or “tablo” (“Dernyen Konfli”), the slaves’ choir sings:
“I pa egziste
En ero ki aksepte
Vann lalit e vann son frer
Pou en senp plas komander”
(Translation: There is no hero who accepts to “sell” his struggle and to sell his brothers to become a commander simply).
In her ‘komanter” or introduction to the book, the Director of the Kreol Institute writes:
“I annan ki senpleman pran Kastor koman en ero,sirtou bann Seselwa ki santi vagman en idantifikasyon avek Kastor etan ki bann desandans lesklav ki bezwen,apre en long period kolonizasyon bann ero pou idantifye avek”….
(Translation: There are those who simply consider Kastor as a hero, particularly the Seychellois who [easily] identify themselves with him in view of the fact that descendants of slaves need heroes to identify themselves with, after a long period of colonization.)
The artist, Patrick Victor, was born in Seychelles in 1952 and started recording in the 1970’s producing a long playing record.
He could be considered as one, if not the best, “poète chanteur” or song-writer (“chansonnier”) Seychelles has had for years. He is well known in the region and has travelled the world over to promote his country either as a solo artist, with his group ‘Bwa Gayak” or the National Folkloric Troupe as its Manager and performer. Today, he has his own studio, “Back to Back Creation”, in Bel Ombre.
(Translation of “Poenm” (Approx.) ‘Like the sun which kisses the sea on the horizon, it is like this your love for me. Like fallen leaves, without uttering a word. It is this your caress, for me.
Like the daylight which passes over [duty] to the night, without uttering a word. It is that, the trust in our love. You are my tomorrow, the strength of my love. You are so beautiful, the treasure of my life)
The editor, Mrs Penda CHOPPY, in her introduction describes Patrick Victor as a “griyo lepep” (a griot of the people”) as he narrates through his wide repertoire the history of his people from independence to the present, that is, the whole episode of modern nation building
In the book, the editor categorizes Patrick Victor’s songs as follows:
Part One: “Patriotic Songs”
Part Two:”Socio-Cultural songs”
Part Three: “Love Songs”
Part Four: “Philosophical” Songs”
The book contains a repertoire of some seventy one (71) compositions.
In the song “Premye Sesel Touzour Sesel” (Translation (Approx.):“Seychelles First and Seychelles Always”) categorized as a patriotic song, the compositor expresses the wish that he is helped to leave the world more beautiful than when he came into it.
He pleads that we leave the world more beautiful for all the children of our beautiful island. What a gift!
He prays the Lord to light our path and to guide him when the sun rises over the paradise as he prays.
He also wishes that our country blooms with love, joy and liberty since each day is filled with hope, proud Seychellois.
In his Chorus he sings that this is his dream. It is his vow with his supplication, even a devotion before the people, before Heaven…Seychelles First, Seychelles always (3))
The song, “Viv an Kreol” lauds the Kreol Festival. The songwriter recalls with nostalgia, certainly, the kreol kids, shirtless, amongst the wild fruit trees like the “prin de frans” (cocoplums). Symbolically, like them, we roam from the low grounds (‘plato”) to the hills and valleys (“Kolin Zoranz Mazanbik”) ….scattered over the ocean next to the big continents with the “sunny face of the tropical night”. It is unbelievable but true!
We are so far, we are so close and in our fantasy we pour the same memories.
In his chorus, he sings of the drums, the fire, the “leokri” (very loud cries) from the violin, the triangle, the accordeon…..
The kreolophone countries are hailed….Martinique, Guadeloupe, Haiti, Mauritius. Réunion, Louisiana…. Rodriques.
We are the descendants, he sings, of all those who left their beloved homelands behind for exile for a thousand reasons. We are the descendants of those who renewed…, recreated… another civilization, another language. Who embraced life with a prayer….a supplication. We will never get lost if our children read, and read, and write our real Kreol history….
He ends with ‘Nou viv an Kreol!”(We live as Kreols!…
The author, born in Seychelles in 1966, studied in Réunion and France and taught the French language in Seychelles for a number of years. He also worked with the Ministry responsible for Culture which organized the annual Kreol Festival. He is presently working with the Department Youth in the same ministry.
Having a great passion for art and writing, he expresses his thoughts mostly in his poems. He is fascinated by the beauty of nature and the way it influences the human person, particularly lovers. This is easily perceived in some of the eighty (80) or so poems in this collection:
“Soley” (The Sun), “Laroul” (Waves), “Imsye Divan” (Mr Wind),”Lanmer….Lavi” (The Sea…Life)……
In the first poem, “Dir Mwan Akoz” (Tell me why) in his book, the poet asks why, when he took his first breath, he had to inspire polluted air.
He wonders why, when he grew up, he had no bed to sleep on or no father to call….why he did not go to school but followed half-naked his mother as she walked up and down.
The poet goes further asking why life is so hard and why humans have to suffer….why only some humans have money….
For him, the earth could be a paradise, humans could unite and the world could bloom…..
As in many of his poems, in “Deside” (Decide), he does not miss to express his feelings about love…
“Mon’n fatige espere…..Kontan mwan,Ou les mwan…”(“I am tired of waiting….love me or leave me
In the last poem in this collection, “Dizan Nou Ansanm,Dizan Progre”(Ten years we are together, Ten years of progress”) the poet writes that there was a dream [or vision] for development…to change the traditional way of life…to live a better life. He attributes to the government the “semen beton, pon, vila an blok”(roads, bridges, villas….),”lasal konser”(concert halls), “laplenn foutbol”(football fields)in the “kanton”(villages), in the “distrik”(districts)…..
4. CHEMINS DU PATRIMOINE DE VICTORIA(Association Internationale des Maires Francophones/Ministère du Développement Communautaire, de la Jeunesse, des Sports et de la Culture/Maire de Victoria/Section Heritage National des Seychelles)(63p)(French).
The booklet, which is in French, is a guide to the different sites in Victoria, the capital of Seychelles. There are in all five (5) itineraries.
Itinerary A .One discovers the sites from the Clock Tower (“Lorloz”) through Francis Rachel Street, Mont Fleuri Road ending at the Victoria Hospital.
Itinerary B, are sites on the State House Avenue from the Clock Tower and back on the Independence and 5 June Avenues.
The Clock Tower(‘Lorloz”)
Itinerary C traces sites from the Clock Tower through Albert to Olivier Maradan, Market and Quincy Streets.
Itinerary D guides one to the discovery of sites on Revolution Avenue and part of Bel Air Road.
Many of the sites on the itineraries, such as the Clock Tower, the Supreme Court, The Jubilee Fountain, the bust of Pierre Poivre… are some of the monuments protected by an Act.
" Le Buste de Pierre Poivre”
The book traces the history of the establishment of the Bahà’I Faith in the Seychelles.
It all started with the arrival of the forty-two (42) year old Kamil Abbas of Iraq in 1953.The first Seychellois to declare his faith was Marshall Delcy. He is said to have been the first local believer .The next important pioneer was Abdul Rahman Zarqani who reached Mahé in 1954 aboard the S.S. Kampala.
As the faith grew the earlier pioneers sought a place for a centre and Manuchihr Ma’ani Entassari helped to get one at Roch Lane.
The Chagos had seemed destined to see the establishment of the Faith in the first place and that finally happened in 1957.
The first Baha’I group in Seychelles was formed on 31 July 1954 by the following pioneers and a local believer:
Marshall James Delcy
Manuchihr Ma’ani Entessari
The second local believer was Rioux who declared his faith on 8 August 1954. He spent a large part of his life on La Digue and donated property for the building of a Bahà’I Centre there ….. followed by the third believer Naidoo…..The first believer on Praslin was Camille….
Rioux was the first Seychellois to pioneer outside Seychelles.
Chapter 2 traces the establishment of the local Spiritual Assembly which fell under the newly elected National Spiritual Assembly.
The First Teaching Plan with seven (7) goals came in 1955.
The reasons for the success of the faith in Seychelles are outlined while the Third Teaching Plan came in 1957.
As the Faith flourished in Seychelles with believers such as Bibi (declared on 25 February 1957) and Bernadine Ernesta on La Digue the religion was being persecuted elsewhere in the world …Mrs Ernesta was the first woman to accept the Faith on her own. La Digue is described as having a “very friendly people and a peace and tranquility that is greatly cherished”.
In Chapter 3, as specified , a suitable place…the first centre…was found at Roch Lane .It was bought with a down payment of SR7500 on the signing of the deed of sale and SR5000 within six months and without interest.
Chapter 4 treats the incorporation of the local Spiritual Assembly (1956-1959) and Baha’I marriage had to be recognized as well.
In Chapter 5 we learn that the Faith encountered many difficulties and hardships in the 1950’s …1960’s as could be seen from a speech by a member of the Legislative Council. The Incorporation of the Spiritual Assembly with Bill No.12 1959 is described as the “Great Victory Bill” in the book.
The book lists many past and present personalities in the faith: Mussard , Willy André , Samson ,Antonio Gopal, Willis Prosper . …Bernadin Renaud …..
The end of the 1960s and early 1970’s is described as “years of tremendous growth in the Faith in Seychelles”.
Another Teaching Plan for the Faith in Seychelles followed….