Kitty J. Pope of the African Diaspora Tourism takes up the 2011 Seychelles “Carnival International de Victoria” to the American public as “Beautiful Seychelles shows off its multiculturalism as host of Africa’s newest carnival.”
Africa’s Seychelles islands, first settled by people from various ethnicity, customs, and traditions, will present its first international carnival in March. With a history of such multi-culturalism and diversity, Seychelles has continued to be a melting-pot of peoples from around the world, each contributing to the culture of the islands. So it seems only fitting that Seychelles has now developed an annual “Carnaval des Carnavals” – bringing representatives from the world’s carnivals to the islands to participate in three days of celebration on March 4 through 6 in its capital city of Victoria. Seychelles is all set to revisit its multi-ethnic origins when the “Carnaval International de Victoria” comes to town.
Just this past year, the Seychelles saw its best ever tourism arrival and revenue records with over 17,000 more tourists than their previous 2009 record. With the upcoming carnival, Seychelles will develop a much stronger presence as a first-class tourism destination around the world. This dynamic event will present an opportunity for each participating country to showcase its culture flair at the “Carnaval des Carnavals.” This is a time when the World of Carnivals will meet up with some of the world’s most beautiful islands when participants from several countries with their own famous carnivals arrive to Seychelles. It is no wonder that the theme of the carnival is “the melting pot of cultures.”
Dignitaries and notables from the various participating countries will be on hand for the official opening of the international carnival. The Victoria Carnival will come alive with a grand, open-air restaurant featuring food, music, and festivities from around the world. Island hotels will coordinate with various participating countries to set up alfresco-styled restaurants showcasing different country’s culture culinary skills. The local population and visitors will all celebrate the spirit of the carnival, participate in the activities, and show off their own costumes and accessories. The city of Victoria will become an entertainment venue with the opening celebration with its various festivities lasting throughout the night.
The official opening of this spectacular event will be followed on day two by Carnival Day featuring a procession of different national floats. Spectators and international and local press will line the streets to witness the magic of this parade through the streets of the capital against a backdrop of music, dance, and colorful costumes. Victoria Carnival Day will even have its very own carnival song composed by local artists to reflect the country’s three national languages: Creole, English, and French. The carnival song will also include music from countries participating in this momentous event. This vibrant international event showcasing music and cuisine from different parts of the world will set the scene for Seychelles as the capital city with a harmonious melting pot of cultures.
After the procession, on the final day, the carnival participants and floats will all assemble at the stadium for a “family fun day” to mingle with the tourist and Seychellois coming from all over Mahé, Praslin, La Digue, Silhouette, and the other islands. Food and beverage outlets will be located all around the stadium where there will also be an “all-day musical show” for the enjoyment of carnival goers and participants. Performances will be by Seychellois artists, as well as other musical and cultural groups from various participating countries. The carnival’s grand finale on Family Fun Day will definitely seal Seychelles’ reputation as a melting pot of cultures.
The Carnival of Seychelles is already appealing to many people around the world. Even though past leading nationalities of tourists were from Italy and France, followed by Germany and the UK, the carnival will help to draw more interest from other nations to visiting the islands. 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 and others – probably including South Africa.” Ange also said that in line with their excellent record in conservation and eco-friendly practices, all steps necessary will be taken to ensure minimal negative impact to the environment.
The Republic of Seychelles comprises 115 islands occupying a land area in the western Indian Ocean just off the east coast of Africa. Of these 115 islands, 41 constitute the oldest mid-oceanic granite islands on Earth while a further 74 form the low-lying coral atolls and reef islands of the outer islands. The granitic islands of the Seychelles archipelago cluster around the main island of Mahé, home to the international airport and the capital, Victoria. The inner islands form the cultural and economic hub of the nation and contain the majority of Seychelles’ tourism facilities including its most stunning beaches.
Seychelles is a comparatively young nation settled in 1770 by the French who lead a small party of whites, Indians, and Africans. The islands remained in French hands until the defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo where it was ceded to Britain under the treaty of Paris in 1814. The Seychelles became an independent republic in 1976 after two hundred years of European colonial rule. A socialist one-party state ruled the country from 1977 to 1993 before the subsequent democratic elections.
For over two centuries, the islands have remained a melting pot of different races, traditions, and religions with a broad diversity of peoples from the four corners of the Earth that has included freed slaves, European settlers, political exiles, adventurers, traders of Arab and Persian origin, as well as Chinese and Indians. Practically every nation on Earth has been represented in Seychelles’ melting pot of cultures with each one contributing its special influence. Ethnic and cultural diversity remain the mainstays of today’s vibrant yet tranquil Creole nation for which harmony is a way of life. Today, the Seychellois population of about 87,122 continues to reflect and embrace its multi-ethnic roots. For more information, visit www.seychelles.travel .