“This was the best opening I have seen, and I have seen them all,” a fellow journalist said when the lights in the Stade Popiler went on again after the opening act of the 2016 Carnival International de Victoria in Seychelles had drawn to a close amid thundering applause from the spectators.
The VIP area was crowded, led by none other than President James Alix Michel, Vice President Faure, former President Sir Mancham, and tourism ministers from South Africa, Madagascar, and other dignitaries.
Two short speeches, both to the point, by the CEO of the Seychelles Tourism Board, Ms. Sherin Naiken, followed by a trilingual address in English, Kreol, and French of Tourism Minister St. Ange, set the tone for the rest of the night.
When the stage lit up and the annual carnival theme song was performed as the opening act, spectators were on the edge of their seats, and the area under the three stages was immediately crowded by TV teams and photo journalists trying to capture the performers.
On stage went Brazil, China, Vietnam, India, Sweden, South Korea, and Ethiopia, as well as co-hosts of the event this year – South Africa and Reunion Island – all thrilling the crowds with flashy costumes and killer moves, the combination of which brought out cat whistles and screams from in particular the open stands where thousands of Seychellois crammed in to see and be part of what has become the islands’ main trademark festival.
In his speech, Minister St. Ange referred to the Seychelles carnival festival as the “United Nations of Culture,” and certainly it is the United Nations of Carnivalistas, which now come in ever larger numbers to this unique festival where – unlike their home carnivals where they perform – they now showcase their crafts and skills besides the most highly-ranked carnival troupes from around the world.
The teams mentioned before will be joined in the parade by two German “Karneval Vereine,” from Duesseldorf and Cologne, others from Italy, Indonesia, Zimbabwe, Zambia, and Kenya – in total 23 foreign performing floats and groups – ready to do their thing this afternoon in the center of Victoria.
It was evident when invited guests crowded into the Gran Kaz Casino for the after-party that the hosts, staff of the Seychelles Tourism Board, the CEO of the Tourism Board, and most notably Minister St. Ange, were beaming with pride for what they have achieved, the perfect weather, a balmy evening under a full moon over the Seychelles’ capital, and a performance, as said already, better than any seen so far, rounded up by fireworks over the stadium at the end of the night’s performance.
The Seychelles, a rainbow nation in its own right, perhaps more than any other nation on Earth, has the spotlights of some 124 global media houses on them this weekend, and going by the look of it, this will be a huge success once more to put the archipelago on the map.
Key sponsors worth mentioning for helping to make this happen, were Air Seychelles/Etihad, Airtel Seychelles, and among others also Kenya Airways, the Pride of Africa, which flew many of the African delegations to Mahe.
Minister St. Ange with his colleagues from South Africa, Madagascar, and the one and only Kitty Pope of Africa Diaspora Tourism in Atlanta Georgia
Today at 3 p.m., the carnival juggernaut will waltz through Victoria on a different route from previous events, to give more locals and tourists the opportunity to line the streets and cheer on the performers – 23 foreign and dozens from the Seychelles – who have taken to the carnival like the proverbial fish to water.