2014 Africa Day – FetAfrik – celebrations opened in the Seychelles

Alain St.Ange, the Seychelles Minister responsible for Tourism and Culture, officially opened FetAfrik 2014 in Seychelles last Friday evening.

2014 Africa Day – FetAfrik – celebrations opened in the Seychelles

Alain St.Ange, the Seychelles Minister responsible for Tourism and Culture, officially opened FetAfrik 2014 in Seychelles last Friday evening. Present at the ceremony were the Designated Minister, Vincent Meriton, Minister Peter Sinon, diplomats accredited to Seychelles, members of the National Assembly, and a faithful crowd who believe in the celebration of Seychelles’ historical culture. We reproduce in its entirety the speech delivered by Minister St.Ange:

“Welcome to FetAfrik 2014. This event is, and this event remains our island’s celebration of Africa Day. There are many ways to interpret FetAfrik, and I’m explaining this, not only for our guests, but I am also passing a message for all of us Seychellois, who sometimes wonder what our Ministry of Tourism and Culture is trying to do and what we are trying to achieve, through the different festivals we organize during the year in our cultural calendar of events. For the Ministry, for the PS, Ms. Benjamine Rose, and for our team at Culture, the organization of cultural festivals remains a way through which we assert our cultural, and through which we assert our national identity.

Over the years, we had established three important cultural Festivals, namely, La Semaine de la Francophonie with now a dedicated French Day held in March, FetAfrik in May, and Festival Kreol held in October each year.

Last year we added the Seychelles – India Day festival, in October, in collaboration with the India High Commission and the local Indian community; and this year we celebrated the Seychelles – China Day in January, with the participation of the Embassy of The People’s Republic of China, and also the Seychellois – Chinese community. We are now working on a British Day which will complete the five historical lines that make us who we are today, this proud Creole People of Seychelles.

Each of these five annual festivals are connected with our ancestry, they are connected with our history, and in other words they are connected with our Seychellois Cultural Heritage – and most importantly – they are connected with our multi–ethnic roots, which link us with the great civilizations of Africa, India, China, and Europe. Mahatma Gandhi said that the Culture of a Nation resides in the heart and in the soul of its people. This is why we believe that culture, and in so doing our people have a place, an important place to play in the continued development of our country. This is why these five festival are celebrated and we see them culminate in the Festival of what we are today, our Festival Kreol of October.

Seychelles has always stretched out a hand in friendship to many other people and nations, because we know within ourselves, that we are related to many other people through our multi-cultural roots, even though we do not always overtly say that we are.

Many Seychellois have ancestors that have come from Eastern and Western Africa via the slave routes and slave markets of Mozambique, Zanzibar, or Madagascar. Some Seychellois are direct descendants of slaves, many of whom are documented in photographs in our National Archives.

There are many ways of looking at cultural interactions with those countries whose people are part of our origins and as a Ministry we continue to explore every area of cooperation we can.

Festivals are very significant cultural manifestations. It gives us an opportunity to meet with many countries and peoples in one venue, to understand one another’s cultures, and also fully appreciate their diverse artistic and cultural presentations. This helps us to better understand the meaning of what they’re doing, so we can further appreciate the cultural diversity which makes us all different and unique, but at the same time unifies and brings us culturally closer.

FetAfrik is a festival in which we recognize, in which we honor, and in which we celebrate our country’s African roots and our people’s African ancestors. It is for these reasons that we invite our African brothers and sisters, both from the diverse local African community currently working in Seychelles, and also the guest artists from mainland Africa we have invited to this year’s festival from Kenya, Zambia, Nigeria and Niger.

Among our distinguished guests at this year’s FetAfrik 2014, we are honored to have the presence of Alphadi from Niger, one of Africa’s most famous celebrities and highly acclaimed international fashion designers; and also the founder of FIMA, a leading festival for the promotion of African fashion.

Alphadi will stage a fashion show for our FetAfrik Gala Evening tomorrow, with a new collection of 24 designs, inspired by his personal vision of the island of Seychelles. And we all look forward to enjoy this spectacle which will be the highlight of tomorrow evening.

I would also like to welcome George Waweru, better known as DJ Kalonjay, from neighboring Kenya. DJ Kalonjay is all set to electrify us on a cross-continental and cross-cultural musical journey that will span from East to West Africa, and from Central Africa to South Africa. I’m sure all of you who love to party, will not be disappointed when you see what he does.

And all the way from Nigeria, we would like to welcome the Tripple Heritage Dance Company, a multi-disciplinary entertainment and production Company from Lagos. We all look forward to your performances during your stay in Seychelles.

Our next international guest is Chef Musama Kaloto Chamunda, a very prominent restaurateur in Zambia, who has flown in especially to prepare the delightful menu for our FetAfrik Gala Evening tomorrow. I don’t yet know if the way to the heart of a country is though it’s stomach, but we’re all looking forward to enjoying Zambian cuisine tomorrow night at the Berjaya Beau Vallon Hotel, where there will also be many other things happening.

Finally, I would like to express my sincere thanks and appreciation to the local African community who has come together to join us in celebrating African culture with their African Bazaar. This is the cooperation we needed.

Organizing a festival is a massive task involving a number of different people, lots of networking, logistics, diplomatic cooperation, and most importantly – generous sponsors who step forward and assist us in sponsoring specific events. For us as Seychellois to better appreciate who we are and what we have in the form of culture, we must continue to see, and appreciate the other cultures of the world. This is the sure way for us to assert our cultural and our national identity.

Ladies and gentlemen, we can say that we have an extraordinary life in our beautiful country, but for us at the Ministry of Tourism and Culture, success is about achieving something that will have longevity, and that will leave a lasting legacy. We are hoping that maybe through the empowerment of culture and of those who earn a living through the development of culture, we are able to leave a lasting legacy. It is now my great pleasure to declare FetAfrik 2014, officially open.

Thank you.

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