The Kreol Festival, which is celebrated each year in October, could serve as a perfect illustration of the unique melting pot of cultures in Seychelles.
During the festival, the Seychellois people welcome to its shores Kreols from the world over: the Indian Ocean, the Caribbean, North America, South America … and the whole Kreol Diaspora. Every year, for the past decade and a half, visitors are invited to savour the Kreol way of life or their "Kreolite", as expressed through the myriads of manifestations which include exhibitions of Kreol arts and crafts, spicy Kreol cuisine, traditional music and dances…
Seminars and debates are organized by the Kreol Institute, which has been created for the promotion of the mother tongue of all Seychellois though English and French still remain official languages. The Seychelles Kreol language, or Kreol-Seselwa, is derived from French, basically, with some African, Malagasy words. It is one of the greatest unifying factors of the young nation. The same could be said of religion. Though almost 90% of the population of 80,000 are Catholics and 8% Anglicans, all other religions of the world are tolerated - Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Bahais, and a multitude of Christian denominations such as - Seventh Day Adventist, Jehovah Witnesses, Pentecostals,Baptists…
Traditionally, and still today, Seychellois live so close to nature that the environment is often the main theme in artistic statements. The works of the many artists is a testimony to that. The images and sounds produced often evoke respect and appreciation of their country and the special relationship they have with their surroundings.
With many Seychellois being descendants of Africans, who were brought here by slave-traders in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, strong elements of mainland African tradition can be distinguished in the culture. Other Seychellois, who voluntarily settled in these islands, also brought with them a varied cultural background. The abject poverty suffered by the slaves and the constant struggles by the settlers led to a mutual effort to improve their lives. The linkage provided fertile ground for the creation and development of a unique Seychellois heritage andculture.
More recently, cultural expression depicts Seychelles ’ struggle, portraying popular aspirations for liberty, equality and unity. These egalitarian notions are the cornerstones of Seychelles contemporary political process. Cultural expression has total freedom in the form and manner it takes and is actively encouraged and supported by the Government.
However, the astonishing pace of the global communications revolution, or globalisation, has brought with it a number of advantages and disadvantages. The increased pressure for cultural homogeneity, especially that of popular Western culture, is being felt. If left unbalanced by local culture, these trends can impact in a negative manner.
The Seychelles government policy is to ensure that Seychelles continues to benefit from international communications and cultural exchanges involving music, film, and literature. It also recognizes the role to be played in the area of indigenous cultural programming.
The fostering of local talent with the idea of preserving and expanding Seychellois culture and tradition is a priority. External cultural influences will always be prevalent in Seychelles . However, a rich and deeply ingrained heritage will be able to live in harmony with other forms of cultural statements.
The implementation of a national cultural policy falls within the mandate of the Ministry responsible for Culture. Cultural policy hinges on three main underlying principles, which are: the access and availability of culture to all, the continuing development and the protection, preservation and promotion of the natural and cultural heritage.
The democratisation of culture has confirmed the major role the Seychelles Government plays in the participation, appreciation and development of Seychellois culture. It believes that all members of society have a right to participate and contribute fully in the formulation and implementation of cultural policy. By assisting cultural activities both at the district and national levels, the Government actively stimulates mass participation. In promoting the accessibility and awareness of visual and performing arts as well as traditional forms of expression, Seychelles can ensure its cultural sustainability.
The continuing development of culture recognizes the need for long term commitment to the sector in order that it may expand and flourish. Collective and individual experience in development could engender innovative forms of cultural expression. This could in turn foster new sources of inspiration and creativity. The result could be a cultural articulation of the nation’s view of development and its commitment to the principles of self-reliance and self-determination.
Protection and preservation of Seychelles national identity and cultural heritage is essential. Only by understanding cultural traditions can development of a national personality be fostered. In the past, the traditions that preserved cultural identity, including part of the literacy tradition, were passed from generation to generation by word of mouth.
These traditions form an integral part of the nation’s cultural history and must be preserved for future generations. In order to be sustained they must be researched and documented and eventually accessible to all who are interested. Cultural history is also manifested in local architecture and must be identified, protected and maintained. To progress as a nation it is vital to understand and recognize the cultural past and contemplate the future with a historical pers