The Seychelles’ History & Culture: A quick course.
Old building in older forests.
If this is the first time you have heard about the Seychelles, then you are in for a treat! Rich in cultural diversity and a history speckled with pirates and lost treasures, traders and colonizers… it’s no wonder why the Seychellois people are as colourful as their past.
Arab navigators and other ancient sailors may have known about the Seychelles for centuries before, as the prior were already trading the rare and highly valued coco de mer nuts, endemic only to these islands. The hollowed, rotted fruits would float and wash ashore nearby countries such as the Maldives and Madagascar, leading to the legend that they originated from underwater trees.
However, the official discovery of the archipelago is credited to the first recorded history made by the fourth Portuguese India Armadas, led by none other than Vasco da Gama, on 15 March 1503.
Though Somalian pirates have terrorised the Seychelles waters in more recent history, pirates had been using the islands as a transit point, way before the French finally took control and ownership in 1756 through the Stone of Possession.
This resulted in this beautiful archipelago being named after the existing Minister of Finance at the time, Jean Moreau de Séchelles – so no, the Seychelles were not romantically named after the sea and shells!
However, the pirates of the olden days continue to haunt the country to this very day, through our folklore and treasure hunts for legendary hidden pirate treasures. None is more notorious than that of Olivier Levasseur’s, who is said to have buried his enormous wealth worth over USD 1 billion in modern day equivalence.
The British eventually took over the islands, becoming a Crown Colony on 1903 until 1976, when the Seychelles became an independent republic within the Commonwealth on June 29, 1976. President France-Albert René, the country’s second after Mr. James Mancham, governed over the Republic of the Seychelles from 1977 to 2004.
This colourful history has created the modern day Seychelles: a true melting pot of cultures creating a new nationality of people – the Seychellois. With the different enthicities of the original settlers beautifully mixing – mainly French, British, Africans, Indian and Chinese – a Seychellois can have the proud features of andark skinned African, or the lighter ones of a British rose, and everything else in between!