The Seychelles Tourism Board (STB) is pleased to share an article from Soca News (SN) about the country’s first grand-scale cultural carnival. Soca stands for “spreading our culture around,” and in this article written by Stephen Spark of the United Kingdom, he talks about “Victoria’s Secret,” the Carnaval International de Victoria
You’ve had your fill of Notting Hill; Trinidad – been there, done that; Cropover, Vincy Mas, and St. Lucia are all crossed off on your calendar; New York, Rio, and Toronto have been seen and done – where’s left to go?
Perhaps the Indian Ocean appeals. If so, you’re in luck. The Seychelles is to hold the International Carnival of Victoria from March 4-6, 2011.
The theme is “The Melting Pot of Cultures,” which refers to the Seychellois’ decidedly mixed ancestry – the colonial authorities gave up trying to classify people by ethnic origin back in 1911! The organizers want to attract carnivalists from around the world to ensure the broadest blend of global flavors in the pot. The plan, says the Seychelles Tourism Board, is for the country’s capital – billed as the world’s smallest – “to become the stage for representatives of the world’s most prestigious carnivals.”
So, if you’re tempted, what can you expect?
The Seychelles is an archipelago of dozens of islands scattered across the Indian Ocean, so of course it’s a popular destination for honeymooners and those who like a touch of luxury in their tropical island hideaway. The Seychellois are described as a little reserved but warm-hearted and easygoing, speaking French-based kreol, as well as English and French. The local music is sega, which is from the same African roots as calypso/soca but has developed a slightly different rhythm and dance style.
The country isn’t associated with carnival, but the 2011 event certainly won’t be the first. In 1972 the prime minister, James Mancham, led the parade, “pulling a rickshaw in colorful attire,” according to one account, and among the revelers was Princess Margaret. It must have been quite some party! Others have been held since then, but never on the ambitious scale planned for next year.
Festivities kick off on Friday, March 4 with a frenzy of alfresco dining in Victoria. As it’s also the official opening of the show, expect plenty of speeches from bemused, besuited dignitaries as you tuck in to your multicultural meal.
If you’re planning to play sailor mas, you’ll be in good company – “warships from our many friendly countries” have been invited to take a break from patroling the buccaneer-blighted sea lanes off Somalia and call in to the carnival (just don’t tell the pirates).
On Saturday morning, the carnival groups assemble at the Unity Stadium in Roche Caiman and set off at 10:00 am. They’ll make a circuit of the town center via Francis Rachel Street and 5th June Avenue before returning to the stadium. In shape, therefore, the route will be more like Luton Carnival’s than Notting Hill’s. Participating groups from overseas will bring their own music and costumes, while Seychelles will contribute several floats, each one representing a particular island, together with a carnival song, to be composed by the country’s leading artists.
The end of the carnival procession certainly won’t be the end of the party. Just the beginning, in fact, as the carnivalists will retrace their steps to take the show into the town center where, we’re told, they’ll be supported by the local population, who’ll “join in the spirit of the carnival with their own costumes and accessories.” We don’t know yet whether there are plans to hold any kind of costume show or competition, or if there will be Trinidad-style carnival elements such as Jouvert – but we get the impression that the organizers are open to suggestions!
Alain St.Ange, CEO of the Seychelles Tourism Board [and eTurboNews ambassador], told Soca News: “We envisage attracting a strong and varied contingent from abroad.” Pledges of support have been given by several international carnivals, he said, and others – probably including South Africa, SN understands – have been “displaying a keen interest.” He added: “We are inviting Trinidad & Tobago to also join in this Seychelles 2011 Carnaval International de Victoria, and in return, Seychelles Tourism will reciprocate in the Trinidad Carnival.”
When Soca News asked Alain about facilities for visiting carnival groups, he revealed: “Seychelles will meet all local costs relating to the carnival, with individual participants meeting their own expenses of air access, accommodation, etc. Local players in the tourism industry will be encouraged to come on board with a raft of enticing offers.” In mid-September, Air Seychelles’ fares from London to Mahé in March 2011 were about £650.
If that’s whetted your appetite for a taste of mas Seychelles-style, then find out more by getting in touch with Marymonde Matatiken, manager of STB’s Event and Convention Bureau, at: Marymonde.firstname.lastname@example.org .
If you’re a carnival, carnival group/mas band, designer or musician who’s planning to attend, Soca News would love to hear from you. And, of course, we’ll keep you up to date with the latest news on this interesting addition to the international carnival calendar.