Seychelles community in the EU
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The Seychelles (Isle de Séchelles) were part of the French Empire from 1770 until 1814. The islands were transferred to Great Britain under the Treaty of Paris in 1814. The Seychelles islands were captured and freed several times during the French Revolution and the Napoleonic wars.
They are descendants of French, British, and other European, Creole, Chinese, Indian and African. Like the French colonists of North Africa, they are called Pieds-Noirs in France, Belgium, Luxembourg, French-speaking Switzerland, Andorra and Monaco.
They consist of the descendants of French people dissatisfied with British colonial rule. Many Seychelles citizens migrated to Europe during and after the Second World War. Seychellois students sent to study in Britain formed the first Seychelles Student Association.
- 1 Origins of the diaspora
- 2 Exodus
- 3 Indian Ocean early discovery
- 4 Superpower involvement – challenges
- 5 Independence 1962–1976
- 6 Historic coup d'état
- 7 Steps toward independence, 1967–76
- 8 Coup by René supporters, 1977
- 9 Non-aligned nations & Asian nations involvement
- 10 Historic exodus to Europe
- 11 The role of OAU
- 12 United Nation involvement engagement
- 13 The formation of a distinctive Seychelles Community
- 14 International syndicate
- 15 Important influential role of EU
- 16 Community important international scientific involvement
- 17 Struggle historic exile return program 1986/87
- 18 The BIOT Diego Garcia issue
- 19 Seychelles communities world wide outside of the EU
- 20 US
- 21 Australia
- 22 Canada
- 23 South Africa
- 24 East Africa
- 25 See also
- 26 Notes
- 27 References
- 28 Sources
- 29 External links
Origins of the diaspora
There was a modest Seychellois community in Kenya, Tanganyika, Uganda, Zanzibar, Congo and Rhodesia who were compelled to leave after independence of those countries. They migrated mostly to Britain, Canada and Australia.
Seychelles nationals migrated to Britain under a special colonial work quota agreement because of the economic situation in Seychelles; many worked in catering, hotels and hospitals. A large number went to Italy. At this time, a program was set up to recruit young Seychellois for the British Army.
Another significant migration of Seychelles people to Europe was after the coup-d'etat on 5 June 1977, when many families fled the Seychelles and go into exile across the European Union mostly in Britain, France, the Netherlands and Germany. This continued until 1991 when a multi-party government returned to Seychelles.
A significant number of students who came to Europe to study do not want to return to Seychelles when they complete their studies, having found employment and made their homes in the EU.
As a result of the tourism industry, many Seychelles nationals have married EU nationals and have come to live in the EU.
In spite of political and economic change many young Seychelles nationals choose to migrate to the EU for economic reasons.
It is estimated Seychellois residing in the EU number 17,000 – 21,000. The communities are in Germany, Austria, Italy, France, Britain, the Netherlands, Scandinavia, Spain, Belgium, Portugal, and also some of the new member states of the EU. Switzerland also has a Seychellois community.
They also have a pan-European organisation, through which their affairs are looked after by leading families and unofficially elected representatives. They have a portal where some information and history can be researched.
Under the Treaty of Rome, they lobbied with important support from president François Mitterrand, and other European heads of state, that they be given the rights to be responsible for their French, European archaic, heritage and other rights due under the EU Human Rights Charter.
They have contributed very importantly that political and democratic change came to Seychelles under a joint exile return program started in 1986/7 under the Seychelles International Repatriation Onward Program, which included most of the exiled political faction.
They continue to play an important role in supporting democracy and economic progress in Seychelles. They are very active in the EU promoting their history, culture and community needs. They have made many efforts to acquire voting rights like Mauritius nationals – this has not happened. They also support a political party of their choosing and fly to Seychelles for important election.
The Huguenots transformed themselves into a definitive political movement thereafter. Protestant preachers rallied an army and cavalry, which came under the leadership of Admiral Gaspard de Coligny. Henry of Navarre and the House of Bourbon allied themselves with the Huguenots. This added wealth and holdings to the Protestant strength, which at its height grew to sixty fortified cities, and posed a serious threat to the Catholic crown and Paris over the next three decades.
They were forced into exile and fled, mainly to Britain and North America. A large community found their way to South Africa, Mauritius, Réunion and thence to Seychelles.
Indian Ocean early discovery
The history of Isle de Séchelles Seychelles, Isle D'abondance and Isle Labourdonais is unknown prior to European colonisation. Polynesians, who eventually settled in Madagascar, perhaps lingered here, circa 200–300 BC. Arab navigators on trading voyages across the Indian Ocean were probably aware of the islands, although they did not settle them. A manuscript dated AD 851, written by an Arab merchant, refers to the Maldives and higher islands beyond them, which may refer to the Seychelles. Arabs were trading coco de mer nuts, found only in Seychelles, long before European discovery of the islands. The nuts sink in water, so it is unlikely they were found, as the Arabs claimed, washed ashore in the Maldives. The Chinese may have encountered the islands during the Tang Dynasty, according to a recent documentary.
In 1502, Vasco da Gama sighted islands which became known as the Amirantes, during his crossing from India to East Africa. The granitic islands began to appear on Portuguese charts as the Seven Sisters.
In March 1608, a trading fleet of the English East India Company set sail for India. Lost in a storm, the Ascension's crew saw "high land" on 19 January 1609 and headed for it. They anchored "as in a pond". They found plentiful fresh water, fish, coconuts, birds, turtles and giant tortoises with which to replenish their stores. The Ascension sailed, and reported what they had found, but the British took no action.
Towards the end of the 17th century, pirates arrived in the Indian Ocean from the Caribbean and made a base in Madagascar, from where they preyed upon vessels approaching and leaving the Red Sea and the Gulf.
The French had occupied the Ile de France (renamed Mauritius by the British in 1810) since 1710. This colony was growing in importance, and in 1735 an energetic administrator, Bertrand-François Mahé de La Bourdonnais (1699–1723) was appointed. His brief was to protect the French sea route to India. La Bourdonnais, himself a sailor, turned his attention to making a speedier passage from Mauritius to India. To this end, in 1742, he sent an expedition under the command of Lazare Picault to accurately chart the islands northeast of Madagascar.
On 21 November 1742, the Elisabeth and the Charles anchored off Mahé at Anse Boileau (not Baie Lazare, later mistakenly named as Picault's landing place). They found a land of plenty. In fact, Picault named the island Île d’Abondance. Picault's mapping was poor, so in 1744 he was sent back and renamed the main island Mahé, and the group the Iles de la Bourdonnais. He had high hopes for the Iles de la Bourdonnais. However, the islands were once more forgotten when La Bourdonnais was replaced in 1746.
The outbreak of war between France and England reminded the authorities on Mauritius about the islands. Two ships were sent to claim them, commanded by Corneille Nicholas Morphey. He renamed the largest island Île de Séchelles in honour of Viscount Jean Moreau de Séchelles, Minister of Finance during the reign of Louis XV of France. The name was later Anglicised to Seychelles. This was later used for the island group, whilst Mahé was again used for the largest granitic island. Morphey took possession for his king and the French East India Company on 1 November 1756.
The end of the Seven Years' War and France's corresponding loss of Canada and status in India, caused the decline of the French East India Company, which had formerly controlled Mauritius. This settlement, and thus Seychelles, now came under direct royal authority. The new intendant of Mauritius, Pierre Poivre (1719–1786), was determined to break the Dutch East Indies monopoly of the lucrative spice trade. He thought Mahé would be perfect for spice cultivation.
In 1768, Nicolas Dufresne arranged a commercial venture, sending ships to collect timber and tortoises from the Seychelles. During this expedition, French sovereignty was extended to cover all the islands of the granitic group on Christmas Day.
In 1769, the navigators Rochon and Grenier proved that a faster route to India could safely be taken via the Seychelles and thus the importance of Seychelles' strategic position became realised. Meanwhile, Poivre had finally obtained seedlings of nutmeg and clove, and 10,000 nutmeg seeds. His attempts to propagate them on Mauritius and Bourbon (later Réunion) met with little success and he thought again of Seychelles. It was considered fortuitous when Brayer du Barré (unknown-1777), arrived on Mauritius with royal permission to run a settlement on St Anne at his own expense.
On 12 August 1770, 15 white colonists, seven slaves, five Indians and one African woman settled on St Anne. Du Barré stayed in Mauritius seeking funds. After reports of initial success, he begged the government for more money. However, reports reached the authorities that ship captains could get no supplies of fresh produce from the islands. Du Barré's appeals for help to Mauritius and Versailles fell on deaf ears. In desperation, he went to the Seychelles to try to rescue the situation, but to no avail. A ruined man, he left for India and died there shortly afterwards.
In 1771, Poivre sent Antoine Gillot to Seychelles to establish a spice garden. By August 1772, Du Barré's people had abandoned St Anne and moved to Mahé or returned home. Gillot worked on at Anse Royale, establishing nutmeg, clove, cinnamon and black pepper plants.
When British ships were seen around Seychelles, the authorities were spurred into action, dispatching a garrison under Lieutenant Charles Routier de Romainville, also a cartographer. In October 1778, they built L'Etablissement du Roi (Royal Settlement) on the site of modern Victoria. Gillot was nominally in charge of the civilian colonists, but had no real authority over them. Mauritius sent as Jean Baptiste Philogene de Malavois replacement. He drew up 30 decrees which protected the timber and tortoises. In future, only sound farming techniques and careful husbanding of resources would be tolerated. He assumed command of the settlement in 1788.
In 1790, as a result of the French Revolution, the settlers formed a Colonial Assembly, and decided they would run their colony themselves, according to their own constitution. Land in Seychelles should only go to the children of existing colonists, who should dispose of the colony's produce as they chose, not as Mauritius dictated. They did not want abolition of slavery, as they believed that without labour that was free of cost to them, they could not survive.
Jean-Baptiste Queau de Quincy (1748–1827), whose name was later Anglicized to Quincy, took command of the colony in 1794. A wily man, he used skill and expediency to steer Seychelles through the years of war ahead. Seychelles acted as a haven for French corsairs (pirates carrying lettres de marque entitling them to prey legally on enemy shipping). Quincy hoped this might go unnoticed, but in 1794 a squadron of three British ships arrived. The British commodore, Henry Newcome, gave Quincy an hour in which to surrender. Through skilful negotiations, Quincy obtained a guarantee of his honour and property and surrendered.
The British made no effort to take over the Seychelles; it was considered a waste of resources. The settlers decided that unless they were sent a garrison, they could not be expected to defend the French flag. Therefore, they would remain neutral, supplying all comers. The strategy worked. The colony flourished. Quincy's favourable terms of capitulation were renewed seven times during the visits of British ships.
On 11 July 1801 the French frigate Chiffonne arrived with a cargo of French prisoners sent into exile by Napoleon. Then HMS Sybille arrived. Quincy had to try to defend the Chiffonne, but after a brief battle, the Chiffonne was taken. Captain Adam of the Sybille wanted to know why Quincy had interfered, in contravention of his capitulation terms. Quincy managed to talk his way out of the difficulty, and even persuaded Adam to agree to Seychelles' vessels flying a flag bearing the words Seychelles Capitulation, allowing them to pass through the British blockade of Mauritius unmolested.
On 15 September 1801, a memorable sea battle took place just off the settlement. The British ship Victor was seriously disabled by damage to her rigging, but she was able to manoeuvre broadside to the French vessel La Flêche and rake her with incessant fire. La Flêche began to sink. Rather than surrender her, her captain ran her aground, torching her before abandoning ship. The opposing commanders met ashore afterwards, the Englishman warmly congratulating his French counterpart on his courage and skill during the battle.
The British tightened the blockade on the French Indian Ocean colonies. Réunion surrendered, followed in December 1810 by Mauritius. In April 1811, Captain Beaver arrived in Seychelles on the Nisus to announce the preferential terms of Quincy's capitulation should stand, but Seychelles must recognise the terms of the Mauritian surrender. Beaver left behind a Royal Marine lieutenant, Bartholomew Sullivan, to monitor the Seychelles situation.
There was little Sullivan could do alone to stop the settlers continuing to provision French frigates and slavers. Slave ownership was not then against British law, although slave trading was. Sullivan, later given the title of Civil Agent, played cat and mouse with the pro-slaver colonists. Once, acting on a tip-off, Sullivan was rowed over to Praslin and was able to confiscate a cargo of newly landed slaves. It was but a small triumph amidst many frustrations, and Sullivan, complaining that the Seychellois had "no sense of honour, shame or honesty", resigned.
The first civilian administrator of the British regime was Edward Madge. He had a bitter feud with Quincy, who remained in the administration as Justice of the Peace. In the following years, the islands became a backwater ticking over quietly. Seychellois landowners had a pleasant life, though making ends meet given the fickle markets for their produce was not always easy. The British had allowed all customary French practices to remain in place. The administrator may have been British, reporting to London, but he governed according to French rules. The biggest grievance the colonists had with their new masters was the colony's dependence on Mauritius.
The other cloud on the planters' horizon was British anti-slavery legislation. In 1835, slavery was completely abolished. The plantations were already in decline, their soils exhausted by years of cultivation without investment in renewing fertility. The plantocracy believed they could not farm without free labour. Some planters took their slaves and left. The liberated slaves had no land, and most squatted on the estates they had tended in bondage, working sporadically to keep themselves from starvation, but generally refusing to work at all. It was a poor sort of freedom, and the colony entered a period of stagnation. There were no exports, and no money to pay for new infrastructure.
The situation was only improved when planters realised they could grow coconuts with less labour and more profit than the traditional crops of cotton, sugar, rice, and maize. Soon, they also had a source of virtually free labour once again. The British took their anti-slavery stance seriously, and operated patrols along the East African coast, raiding Arab dhows transporting slaves to the Middle East. Slaves liberated south of the Equator were brought to Seychelles, and apprenticed to plantation owners. They worked the land in return for rations and wages. Over a period of thirteen years from 1861, around 2,400 men, women and children were brought to Seychelles.
The town, called Victoria since 1841, began to grow. Licences granted in 1879 give some idea of the range of businesses in the town. There was a druggist, two auctioneers, five retailers, four liquor stores, a notary, an attorney, a jeweller, and a watchmaker.
There was a disaster on 12 October 1862, when torrential rain and strong winds hit Mahé. An avalanche of mud and rocks fell on the town from the hills. It has been estimated that over 70 persons lost their lives.
Seychelles yearned to be a colony in its own right. The authorities in the mother colony supported them. Sir Arthur Gordon, the Mauritian governor, sent a petition on their behalf to London. Concessions were made, but Seychelles did not become a Crown Colony in its own right until 1903, when its first Governor, Sir Ernest Bickham Sweet-Escott took office. Befitting its new status, the colony acquired a botanical gardens, and a clock tower in the heart of Victoria.
The British, like the French before them, saw Seychelles as a useful place to exile troublesome political prisoners. Over the years, Seychelles became a home to prisoners from Zanzibar, Egypt, Cyprus and Palestine, to name but a few. The first in the line of exiles was the ex-Sultan of Perak who arrived in 1875 after his implication in the murder of the British Resident of Perak. Like many of the exiles who followed, he settled well into Seychelles life and became genuinely fond of the islands. He took home with him one of the popular local tunes, and incorporated it into the national anthem of his country. With new words, it later became the national anthem of Malaysia.
Perhaps the most famous of the political prisoners was Archbishop Makarios, who arrived in 1956. He likewise fell in love with his prison. "When our ship leaves harbour", he wrote, "we shall take with us many good and kindly memories of the Seychelles... may God bless them all."
Superpower involvement – challenges
The Republic of Seychelles, Réunion and Diego Garcia (British Indian Ocean Territory) have long formed part of a long chain of complex attempts by the superpower rivals to dominate and control a strategic region of the world.
Other than Madagascar, none of these nations were like other countries in Africa – where a great deal of blood was lost in the process of colonisation. In reality the powers involved were interested primarily in important economic gains, whether that involved slaves, gold, diamonds, copper, tin, bauxite, precious stones, timber, animal trade and their precious parts.
In the case of Mauritius, Reunion, Seychelles, and Diego Garcia, the countries had a strategic interest. The colonising power, be it Portuguese, Dutch, French, British, Spanish, German, or Austrian, felt the necessity to create protective outposts to secure their respective interests.
With economic and political powers like the African Union, Gulf States, Australia, Asian economic bloc, Pakistan, combined with the issues facing those nations with nuclear capabilities, vying for power in the Seychelles, the people of this region have had to deal with all the countries involved.
It is important for nations around the world to understand the issues involved prior to the upcoming independence in spite of the notion and talk of isolation. The educated, figurative, populace had recognised the gravity, consequences and dangers of the superpower rivalry in the 1960s. This was aggravated by developments in East Africa, such as the revolution in Zanzibar, a formerly strong Arab colonial enclave. The decision by Britain and the US to remove several key strategic island from the Seychelles Group and create a new political, military strategic entity, namely the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT) ensued. Those two parties were prepared to use their resources to the national and public disadvantage. Over the past 35 years some of the very important regional conflicts – past and ongoing wars, such as those in Iraq and Afghanistan have an impact upon the community and nation.
In colonial practise, visiting navies would often stay, something which prevailed until independence. The US High Command setting up a tracking station facility in 1963, which closed in 1996, contributed to its inhabitant acquiring more awareness of the issues and the possibility of such facilities creating more problematic situations. The Seychelles People's United Party was involved in many confrontations, public protests and demonstrations, demanding its closure, while in fact they capitalised upon the facility and used it to gain public support and popularity for their cause, the Call for Independence. The paramount colonial powers then was Britain, the United States and France, while the Soviet Union and China were seen as emerging threats, specially after independence, all of which created a need for greater attention to security.
Prior to independence, the Seychelles had the full protection of the British Empire, particularly the Royal Navy. Upon independence, as a young nation with limited resources, the Seychelles was now required to take care of all eventualities. The Liberal Party of Seychelles of Dr Stevenson Delhomme, the Seychelles Democratic Party of James R Mancham and the SPUP of FA Rene all had differing vews of what was best for the Seychelles nation. The Seychelles of today and that of the 1960s have greatly changed those individuals who understood the gravity and development.
The Seychelles became embroiled in superpower conflict after its independence. The involvement of the Soviet Union became involved in the region during the "Cold War era" as a result of its need to strengthen its position to outmanoeuvre, outgun and outplay the US, colonial position and interest. The USSR played a paramount role in supporting and bolstering the one-party political system of the second Republic and FA Rene government; without them the system and government would not have survived. Seychelles had signed major military, diplomatic alliance and economic protocol with the USSR, which allowed the USSR to embed itself in Seychelles. This had a significant impact on government operations and general policies, from media to education.
China took a political long-term interest in the region from both economic and diplomatic aspects, notwithstanding the "friendly rivalry" with Soviet Union political and social ideology. Both countries intervened and became highly embroiled in our domestic and international politics and geopolitics. Hence, the Western political and economic bloc attempted to use any means necessary to dislodge and rid them from Seychelles; this involved the NATO policy and military resources and Western intelligence services.
This had a significant impact on Seychelles' international relations with communities in Europe and across the world, particularly the Exile and refugee communities which had come into existence because of the warring superpower interests and ambitions. The role of France between 1972 and 1991 was complicated by the fact that it was not a member of NATO, which as a result complicated its relationship with Seychelles, its Indian Ocean complex interest. Often the political, diplomatic and economic outcome of events were out of the hands of the nationals of Seychelles. This displayed itself until 1991, the return of multiparty elections.
Inevitably, those forming the Seychelles Government in Exile, the many groups of exiles and refugees, were under constant scrutiny and monitored. The position of their national institutions and media did not help, improve or contribute to the situation. If anything, it aggravated the situation.
Hence, the Seychelles Communities in exile in Europe, the US, South Africa, Australia, Canada had to be more imaginative and competitive. Their decision to develop appropriate network, using their European, French, British and others, ingenuity to involve their ancient military and other such connections, including Royal with the objective of finding a solution. The process they went through, the experience they have acquired, knowledge gained have lend importantly that they understand the greater and more complex geostrategic position of the Indian Ocean region. As such they are able to relate become pro active in some of the more complex similar working issues of the EU, its role today in the world and the future.
It is relevant and important to state that today in terms of community size in EU, the Seychelles community have gained and acquired respectable acknowledgement on their positions, views and approaches to the aforementioned issues from the US, Russia, NATO, China, Japan, the African Union (AU), Gulf Region nations and Australia, including nation of South America. Without which they would not have been able to contribute to the important political, economic, military and social change of their nation and contribute to play such important and crucial role.
With the fall of the COMECON, the Warsaw Pact, the break-up of the USSR, emergence of China as a leading world superpower, development in the Gulf region, Asia, India and Pakistan military, diplomatic and economic posturing, the position of the Non-Aligned Nations is affected by the coming into existence of the African Union, the new role of the European Union and NATO in the region. The gravity with which the major industrial nations view such issues is affected by their concern their economic and vital interest being affected, disrupted or infringed. The new world order and approach to resolving conflicts to the detriment of the small or regional governments and their people. The major concerns are that things could escalate and the outcome for the world major capitals, and citizens would be poor.
Historic coup d'état
One party state era 1977 onward
Widespread involvement of Seychellois in their own political affairs began in 1948 after World War II, when Britain granted suffrage to approximately 2,000 adult male property owners, who then elected four members to the Legislative Council that advised the governor. The winning candidates were drawn from a group known as the Seychelles Taxpayers' and Producers' Association (STPA), which represented the landed strata of society — known colloquially as the grands blancs (great whites). The STPA defended its members' interest in matters of crop marketing and other issues and was the principal political force in the nation until the early 1960s, when representatives of the small new urban professional and middle class began to win seats.
Over the past 25 years, the Seychelles community in the EU has presented briefly the issues and reasons why those that had formed the Planters Association—Grand Blanc—had wanted to charter and plan a different course of history for Seychelles then under British Colonial Rule. They involved the elite of Seychelles of French descent in the British government Colonial Administration=, the Police, the Public Work Department, Treasury, the Local Banks, Cable and Wireless, the Hospital, the Harbour and Agriculture Department.
One of the most important historic and political events for the Seychelles Planters Association was the Algeria debacle. They had long been betrayed by France, under the Monarchy, the French Revolution, then the first Republic of Bonaparte. Algeria's proximity to Seychelles and the Indian Ocean, and the Suez Canal were also issues. The First and Second World War epoch, the ensuing economic and political development.
Two parties emerged to represent Seychelles' interest and workers interest: the DP, led by James Mancham, and the SPUP, led by France-Albert René. Both men were London-educated lawyers who had returned to Seychelles determined to improve local conditions and to develop popularly based local politics.
Although community rivalries and the differing styles of the two leaders were important in attracting followers, the two parties also differed in substantive ways. The SPUP called itself socialist, favoured worker-oriented policies, and pressed for complete independence from Britain and a nonaligned foreign policy. The pressure for independence was intensified after Britain in 1965 removed Île Desroches, the Aldabra Islands, and the Farquhar Islands from Seychelles and made them part of the BIOT. The DP took a more laissez-faire capitalist approach and wanted to continue the association with Britain and to allow British and United States bases on the islands.
Steps toward independence, 1967–76
Continuous and mounting demands for an increased share in running the colony's affairs prompted Britain to enact a series of constitutions for Seychelles, each of which granted important new concessions. In 1967 Britain extended universal suffrage to the colony and established a governing council to run it, the majority of whose members for the first time were elected by the Seychellois rather than appointed by the British government. That year almost 18,000 Seychellois voted, and the DP emerged in control of the council. In 1970 Britain set up a ministerial form of government and gave Seychellois the responsibility to administer all but external affairs, internal security, the civil service, and the government's broadcasting service and newspaper. The DP won ten seats, and the SPUP won five in the Legislative Assembly. Mancham became the islands' chief minister and René, the leader of the opposition.
The opening of an international airport on the east coast of Mahé in 1971 improved contact with the outside world. Before this most journeys to and from Seychelles had involved long voyages on bimonthly steamers running between East Africa and India and often required inconvenient transits in Mombasa and Bombay. Air service had been available only on a restricted basis at an airstrip used by the United States in building a satellite station on Mahé. The end of the islands' relative isolation triggered tourism and concomitant booms in foreign capital investment and the domestic construction industry. The construction of the international airport changed the economy from a traditional agricultural and fishing one within a few years into one where services accounted for the major portion of employment and gross domestic product (GDP). The two parties differed on the ways to manage the new tourist industry and to apportion its benefits. The SPUP favoured controlling the growth of tourism and at the same time developing the entire economy, whereas the SDP wanted to stimulate the rapid growth of tourism and to establish the islands as an international financial center.
Independence from Britain was the dominant issue between the two parties in the early 1970s, however. The SPUP insisted on cutting the colony's ties with Britain, whereas Mancham argued for even closer association. But when it became plain that the independence issue was popular and Britain showed no interest in retaining close relations, the SDP also shifted to a proindependence policy. Moreover, the disfavor with which African and Asian nations viewed colonialism had put the SDP into disrepute in the region. The SDP won the election campaign in 1974 but the election provoked angry controversy. The SPUP charged that the results had been rigged; because of the way constituencies had been demarcated, the SDP won thirteen of the fifteen seats with only 52.4 percent of the vote, lending credibility to the charges. Thereafter, relations between the two parties, already personalised and bitter, worsened steadily.
Despite their differences, the two parties formed a coalition under Mancham to lead Seychelles to independence. Five members from each party were added to the Legislative Assembly in an attempt to equalise political representation. One year later, Britain granted the colony complete independence, and on 29 June 1976, the Republic of Seychelles became a sovereign nation, with Mancham as president and René as vice-president. As a gesture of goodwill, Britain returned Île Desroches, the Aldabra Islands, and the Farquhar Islands. In addition, Britain made a series of grants to the new nation to smooth the transition to an independent economy. Both parties agreed to support the coalition government until elections were held in 1979.
Coup by René supporters, 1977
On 4–5 June June 1977, sixty supporters of the SPUP who had been training in Tanzania staged a coup and overthrew Mancham while he was in London. René, who denied knowing of the plan, was then sworn in as president and formed a new government.
A year later, the SPUP combined with several smaller parties and redesignated itself the Seychelles People's Progressive Front (SPPF), or simply the Front. A new constitution adopted in 1979 stipulated that the SPPF be the sole recognised party. The constitution provided for a strong executive headed by the president and a legislature of twenty-three elected and two appointed members.
In the first election, held in June 1979, René was the single candidate for president. He won with 98 percent of the vote. The results were viewed as a popular endorsement of the socialist policies pursued by the government in the two years following the coup. The SPPF proceeded with its program to set minimum wage levels, raise government salaries, improve housing and health facilities, broaden educational opportunities, increase social security coverage, and generate employment in agriculture and fisheries. The lives of most Seychellois were enhanced, and most citizens appeared to favour the government's policies.
The decision to turn the nation into a one-party state based on socialist ideology, as well as certain initiatives of the government, caused some bitterness, especially among the upper and middle classes. Censorship of the media and control over public expression were unpopular. A number of groups attempted to oust the René government between 1978 and 1987. The most notable was a group of mercenaries who tried to enter the country in 1981 disguised as tourists from South Africa. The mercenaries were exposed as they came through customs at the international airport but most of them, including their leader, Colonel Michael "Mad Mike" Hoare, escaped after commandeering an Air-India passenger plane to South Africa. Although the South African government prosecuted and jailed some of the mercenaries for aircraft hijacking, Hoare testified that South African military and intelligence officials were involved in the coup attempt. During this period, the Seychelles government received support from Tanzania, which deployed troops to the islands to strengthen the government's hand.
Some of the devastating outcome included the imprisonment of many of the leading original settlers Seychelles families, while others were persecuted, forced into exile, their properties confiscated in the process of purging the Seychelles of its rich colonial heritage, history and archaic heritage, as well as Europeans. It also created the situation that Seychelles exile/refugee in EU very often were confronted aggressively by supporters, agents of FA Rene Socialist Party, Black and Arab, COMECON, Latin American supporters, as they went about their existence, educating their children and rebuilding their lives. Hence began also the situation of black Seychellois controlling and dictating a vast array of national issues; their efforts to purge Seychelles of its rich history and heritage resulted in some of today's political problems and grave undercurrents.
Non-aligned nations & Asian nations involvement
Historic exodus to Europe
The Algeria debacle was a significant event for the Seychelles Planters Association. France, under the Monarchy, the French Revolution, then the French First Republic, had not treated them well. Algeria proximity to Seychelles – the Indian Ocean, the Suez Canal issues. The First and Second World War epoch, Colonial Britain, the ensuing economic and political development.
Then came the East African Independence, followed by the Zanzibar revolution. In Rhodesia the efforts and attempts by the White minority Settlers to have and force a Unilateral government. All those in Colonial Seychelles together with their European expatriate friends, who watched and monitored events with trepidation – it was a matter of time and they would be next.
Over the past 25 years, the EU community has presented the issues and reasons why those that had formed the Planters Association – Grand Blanc had wanted to charter, plan a different course of history for Seychelles then under British Colonial Rule 1963. Having failed they all mostly knew they were in the process of losing 150 years of hard work and toil and they would probably lose their lives too. Those who had the means, transferred their money abroad.
For most and the vast majority, the events of 5 June 1977 coup d'état which will be remembered in history. The establishment of a One Party system and abolition of opposition, imprisonment, deportation and confiscation of Private properties, land, etc. All those who had to flee for their lives and seek exile and refuge in Europe. The attitude of the French, British and other European governments and the media changed. During the next 15 years, from 1977 to 1991, they lived a life of sheer suffering, racial oppression, bitter hardship in diaspora and embitterment. Many of the old families who were forced to leave Seychelles never returned.
The role of OAU
League of Arab Nations, India and Pakistan
United Nation involvement engagement
The formation of a distinctive Seychelles Community
The formation of a distinctive Seychelles community in Europe began 30 years ago shortly after 5 June revolution in 1977, and the historic and important events which followed. There was already a group of Seychellois in Britain as Seychelles had been a British colony, who had adapted to the British colonial system and way of life, language, and religion, having the means to migrate for various reason, mostly economic.
The next most important category were economic migrants of the 1960s who, as was the practice with other British colonies, were allowed to emigrate to the UK to work in various sectors of the British economy. A similar program in Italy made it possible for a number of Seychelles nationals, mostly of Creole black descent, to go and work in Italy and become citizens.
Another distinctive group, with their very cultural uniqueness were the many families of Seychelles origin who had gone to work and live in East Africa, Kenya, Tanganyika, Uganda and Zanzibar under Britain colonial rule and Seychelles proximity. After the coming of independence to East African countries from the 1950s they were forced to migrate to Britain. They are known as the Kenya born and East African Seychelles. They also influenced events and affairs at Home.
Families had been returning to France between 1900 and 1976, mostly because of the British colonial practice, favouritism and economic reasons. There were issues related also to the 1914 and 1944 wars. They were first, second or third generation French colonial descent and so were able to integrate easily, unlike the situation in Algeria where emigrants from Seychelles were confronted by the Native Algerian population. They maintained contact with families and acquaintances in Seychelles, Reunion, Mauritius and Madagascar, East Africa and had their distinctive circles. They also exerted their distinctive French colonial influence on Seychelles and affairs of the Indian Ocean region – South Africa, Australia and India. They maintained contacts with families in Canada, and the United States.
The community has started working for funds to collect statistics, enrolled the help of voluntary organisations in Europe to address the issues with poor response.
The events of 5 June 1977 radically changed how they had lived and functioned till then. In spite of the significant Seychelles colonial history, various events such as the independence of India, the Suez crisis, crises in former Somali, the Mau Mau Uprising, revolution in Congo, East Africa independence, the bloody revolution in Zanzibar, and Rhodesian independence, residents of Seychelles had not expected it to happen in Seychelles. The shock that engulfed not only Seychelles, also affected deeply the groups, communities and families in Europe, both the pro and con groups.
This was followed by the first government in Exile of the Seychelles headed by Sir James Mancham and his former Cabinet Ministers which was supported by Britain, US, France, South Africa, Australia, Israel and Kenya. The media coverage and attention Seychelles received. Communities in Britain, France, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands and Italy have their fair share of oppression, exclusion, race motivated attack, persecutions, and has drawn strength from North Africa and Ireland.
In Seychelles after the events of 5 June 1977, the very important exodus of Seychelles families had begun, as those who opposed FA Rene were deported. Among the most important challenges was basic: find housing, food and other basic needs such as education or employment. Additionally, however, there was the constant fear of the situation in Seychelles and those involved making life very difficult for those who opposed or had opposed FA Rene government.
In 1978, Seychelles exiles in South Africa, acting in behalf of ex-president James Mancham, discussed with South African Government officials launching a coup d'état against the new president France-Albert René. The military option had been decided in Washington, D.C., after concerns for United States access to its new military base in Diego Garcia island, and the determination that René was not corruptible in favour of the Americans.
Associates of Mancham contacted Mike Hoare, then in South Africa as a civilian resident, to fight alongside fifty-three other mercenary soldiers, including South African special forces (Recces), former Rhodesian soldiers, and ex-Congo mercenaries. Hoare agreed to fight for Mancham.
After the failed attempted coup of Mike Hoare, the Seychelles exiles made up of a number of leading Seychelles nationals formed the first important opposition party in exile namely MPR and SNM under the leadership of Mr Gérard Hoarau, another government in exile was formed – to become the principal opposition force and voice representing the Seychelles to the British and international media attention and involvement. Important issues and events included the Cold War, Seychelles' strategic position in the Indian Ocean, the Eastern Bloc involvement, China, OAU, the USSR, the COMECON – Warsaw Pact, Arab State, Cuba and Latin America.
A third government in exile was put together involving former Cabinet ministers, Executives of MPR/SNM and other exile factions. It also involved France leading French mercenary – Bod Denard They later would form the leadership of a successful peaceful exile/refugee return program – SIROP.
These international issues and events caused the former President of Seychelles, Sir James Mancham – his ministers, the Leader of opposition Mr Gérard Hoarau and the MPR/SNM executive to call for the deposing of FA Rene government. It was decided after consultation with the European continental community, UN agency and other caritative, voluntary agencies to consider very importantly to building long-term grass root structures and supporting bodies for our community in EU. A number of exile factions and long established community members had endeavoured to establish such working body and structures.
A proposal was put forth to the United Nations and other leading international institutions and governments, based on the Seychellois community's contribution to Europe, for the EU to assist in rebuilding Seychelles and establish NGO in Seychelles.
The most important was UKSCA, with a charity registration and supported by several London Councils. It became the first Seychelles NGO in EU to build a network with London's ethnic and exile communities and emphasised the role of the Seychelles exile political parties. It became involved in local, national and international political issues of interest to the Seychelles community. This approach was expanded across the EU. The recognitions of the Seychelles community in EU began to acquire and good will upon which it implemented the SIROP – CDU, Alliance, DP, SNP, SNM exile return program. This radically changed the way the community would be regarded in the EU by the public, the news media and relevant institutions. A pan European organisation was also chartered for the future of our EU community in the eventuality that most of the Leadership return to Seychelles and the future of the community in the EU – named FECAS ECSVS. The community had studied closely other communities with similar interests, cultural back ground, history.
Given the colonial life it had had, and its ancestors, the community worked to include the church in its work and community across the EU. This was not an easy task, as it had to meet and discuss with Seychelles individuals across the community, learn to listen their advice, aspiration and needs. It also learned how other communities worked to establish a national identity, whether the Mauritius, the Greek, Zanzibar – Ismaili, Lebanese, the Irish, the Jews, the Armenians, the Turks and several communities from former COMECON, among these the Polish community. In France the excellent rapprochement with the many North African communities of Maghreb, and importantly the former Algerian colony, the Harkis, Madagascar, and Comores.
For the Seychelles generation of 2000, there is a need to educate them about the point of reform in the Seychelles. The concept of syndicating for greater economic, diplomatic, political end, purpose and objective is inherent as our European culture as are the rival colonial powers and their approach to over coming resources shortage, the need to "create special friendship with sometime enemies to achieve a greater objective", and sharing the booty, the spoil and end product or project.
In Seychelles, the practise and concept of syndicating has existed since the First Group of Colon came to the Indian Ocean, with the development of various economic structures, diplomatic and military. Under British colonial rule, they attempted to obliterate this practise of French and European culture. They created their own colonial system which absorbed much of the old system under different name.
The Planters of Seychelles knew about syndicated practise, ethics and benchmarks. In East Africa, the Seychelles communities developed their brand of syndicated working as did the Pied Noir of Congo, and North Africa.
The Italian communities brought along their own brand of syndicated working from the colonial Seychelles. The Indian – Asian communities had their practise and approach. So too did the Chinese and the Parsi merchant communities.
The Seychelles communities abroad decided to rebuild this syndicated network, foremost in France, other European capitals, the colonies they had departed to Canada, South America, South Africa, and the US.
Out of the one party state system which came into place in 1977 and lasted over 35 years, their particular approach to developing and international syndicated and Cartel remains. Whilst the government maintained a strictly socialist/communist approach to the need of the people, they had and were compelled to develop more sophisticated syndicated system, methods of working with the international communities in all manner as very many spheres of corporate, financial, commodity and military areas. Upon the return of multi party government, the fusion of the experience and knowledge acquired remained.
The Seychelles Communities in EU over the past 35 years has amassed a vast experience, and wide achievements in this field involving international and multinational economic projects at European level, and elsewhere in the COMECON, USSR, Gulf Region, African Union – former OAU, Latin America, and Asia – China. This knowledge allowed the establishment of the SIROP exile/refugee program, the Phase ll Seychelles development program, and the role we played in helping to put in place the Rim Association. The Seychelles Community was involved in the process of changes in the COMECON, and likewise in the USSR, based on the experience gained with the Seychelles, as were the former OAU – the African Union-nations.
Important influential role of EU
The impact of the Seychelles community is widespread, despite clashes until as late as 1985.
This was divided into five categories:
- Pro-British, Commonwealth and their institutions, military alliance.
- French, Francophone and their institutions, military alliance.
- Strong pro-US, Western, capitalist oriented democracy, political system, ideology, values and military alliance.
- Socialist USSR, COMECON, and others sharing the communist ideology, political system, education, economic system, socialist values and military alliance.
- A small minority back in the 1960s and 1970s who had begun to study, court European political ideology, institutions, economic and diplomatic reasoning.
Each of the above had their political, economic and military agendas and interests in the Seychelles, the Indian Ocean strategic issues, who controlled the region and their motives.
In 1979, the small group of Seychelles exiled refugees based on the Continental Europe, who began looking at the Europe role in the distant future to replace the system so divisive to the country's inhabitants. When they approached the SNM, MPR, and SDP leadership in Britain, London they were labelled Nazi/pro-German, Austrian ideological supporters.
There developed important divisions among the exiled refugee community as a result. This group followed their belief that in the course of time and near future: "The Power that would bring greater stability in the affairs of Seychelles in the Indian Ocean region and their European Communities would be Europe and its vast arrays of then Institutions, values, cultures, heritages, belief, science, diplomacy – military resources, experiences, expertise".
Hence the departure from attempts to change Seychelles by military force; instead they worked towards finding economic and political solutions which would underpin the preferred belief, objective and values. Upon such, the SIROP exile/refugee return program was conceived, planned and implemented.
The communities in EU developed engaged in the greater and important working of Europe from 1979 to date, building effective networks. From 1976 to date, the treaties have benefited the EU of today and the Seychelles communities within it. This include the historic Treaty of Lisbon. The measure of success have been due importantly to their French, British European heritage, culture, Christian and institutional connections, values, education, challenges as a Community in EU.
Since the return of multiparty government in 1991 in the Seychelles, the refugee communities in the EU have become pro-active in supporting democracy and strong civic engagement in the Seychelles, the Indian Ocean, the Gulf Region and OAU – African Union, Asia subcontinent, and also cultural exchanges throughout the region.
Community important international scientific involvement
Struggle historic exile return program 1986/87
– COMECON, Warsaw Pact collapse, Changes in South Africa.
The BIOT Diego Garcia issue
BIOT and Diego Garcia, with all their complexities and taboos, are very important to the Seychelles community. The Seychelles exile communities in the EU have worked to build democratic consensus with each other to avert war and enable its citizens to live a peaceful life.
The past 30 years have seen an increase in the relevancy, importance of our community European heritage. The Seychelles and Diego Garcia communities is governed by laws of EU – the very vast majority of members of the community are EU citizens, so it is inevitable that the community is influenced by EU foreign policy and politics.
The Seychelles and exiles elsewhere have come to take over the major and principal responsibilities, rights of French and other European ancestors in addition to the laws, institutions, culture – history will allow. From this prospective we see the problematic in other prospectives. As a part of the European community within the norms of democratic responsibilities and practices, the Seychelles has important responsibilities. In the EU the democratic practice, civil practice is to allow communities influence in the government process by involving them in it.
The Seychelles community in Britain in particular have paid and is paying a price for what was started 40 years ago. The so-called Grand Blanc, plantation owners, members of the Victoria District Council, did not want to entertain the notion at all, for fear of risking their vested economic interest. Unlike the Chagossians they were educated and articulate. They have had three or four generation of colonial British rule. They knew what had taken place in Mauritius, Reunion, the Chagoss Group. They have experienced the exodus they have made from France from 1000AD. It was with those experience they addressed their concern then.
For the past 30 years the Seychelles community in Britain, EU have suffered directly. Officials and their institutions have created a barrier to full participation of the Seychelles community.
There have been four important wars during the past 30 years associated with Diego Garcia. The situation in the EU government excludes its citizen from active democratic participation and due process because of the status – war, military modalities that have been put into place despite its participation. The EU regards the BIOT/Diego Garcia debate as an African Union debate. However, the AU does not function like EU democratic debates. The AU head of state, institutions would have stood to benefit importantly – because we formed part of the original issue.
In Africa today, they are endeavouring to promote our community in EU vis a vis EU laws; the importance of Diego Garcia would have resulted into over flow. They cannot understand this practice by EU lawmakers.
Seychelles communities world wide outside of the EU
The Seychelles community in the US is concentrated in the Sun belt – Florida. In the 1960s, 1970s because of the strategic location of Seychelles, the US built one of their satellite tracking facilities on Mahe at La Misere, which was nicknamed "the golf ball" because of its unique dome shape. There were several leading United States Air Force contractors, Philco Ford, Pan Am, Nasa, Loral Corporation and Johnson Instruments, IBM, including base defence, military, intelligence personnel.
They numbered some 250 including Voluntary Corps. The vast majority were bachelors – this resulting in marrying and partnering some of the daughter of the elite Seychellois families, after their term of Service in Seychelles migrated with their families to the US. After the coup d'état of 5 June 1977, a number of families sought refuge in the US. It is estimated there are some 1500 Seychellois in the US.
Seychelles families have been migrating to Australia for as long as the white Mauritian migration to Australia, and for the same reasons.
After the independence of East Africa and Rhodesia, a number of Seychelles families were compelled to leave those countries and migrate to Australia to seek livelihoods and stability.
The second most important wave of migration, exile took place after 5 June 1977 coup d'état and the abolition of multiparty democracy. Since 1991 and the establishment of the Third Republic, a number of Seychelles individuals have been migrating to Australia for economic, educational, vocational and political reason.
It is estimated there are some 12,000 Seychelles nationals settled in Australia.
Some of the more affluent Seychelles families started migrating in the early 1800, the French families, distant relatives who had gone to settle their from Mauritius, Reunion and France. They were dissatisfied with colonial life, opportunity and prospect. The colonial favouritism which existed.
After the independence of East Africa, Rhodesia a number of Seychelles families were compelled to leave those countries and migrate to Australia. This continued until 1977 when there was a wave of migration, exile, refugee fleeing Seychelles due to the coup d'état.
It is estimated there is some 4,500 Seychellois in Canada.
Prior to the establishment of Apartheid there have been Seychellois of white, French, British – other European migrating to South Africa. This continued until event of 5 June 1977, the coup d'état. A number of leading Seychelles individuals attended schools, higher training in South Africa.
After Independence in Rhodesia, Kenya, Uganda and Tanganyika some of those Seychelles families who migrated to South Africa to restart their lives and rebuild their families. Because of their skill, education and abilities they were welcomed.
History repeated itself over from East Africa, historic events of 5 June 1977, the Seychelles families who fled to South Africa, seek exile there, they had been persecuted, imprisoned, they had lost their properties, among them the family of the leader of the exile Opposition Mr Gérard Hoarau.
Seychelles individuals and families started migrating to East Africa in the early nineteenth century. With the event of the first world war and the shipping connection, those settled in Mombasa, Nairobi, Kampala, then Zanzibar – the Sultanate, Dar es Salaam in Tanganyika then British Colonies. They went to work for British established colonial companies, many reaching high positions. They were regarded in high esteem by the colonial communities.
With the opening of the Kilembe copper mine, the processing plant at Jinja and concomitant need for skilled, responsible workers some 200 Seychellois were employed in various work positions.
A large number of them intermarried, took up the national citizenship after independence – because they had faced no alternatives. The Seychelles community in Uganda was hit most under Idi Amin and the wars which followed; they fled to Britain, France, Canada, Australia, South African and Seychelles. The Tanganyika was equally impacted upon independence and the introduction of one-party system; some had worked for the large Greek sisal plantations in high positions.
In Kenya they fared better as they had adopted the cross culture between colonial life and East African life and became known as "Kenya born". However, many chose to migrate as life and economic existence became more pressing and difficult.
The situation in Zanzibar was far worse – many had very important and respectable position and work. With independence, the brief new government and finally the Zanzibar Revolution which cost some estimated 25,000 lives, most fled for their lives to Seychelles, later Australia, Canada, South Africa and Britain.
From EU, Canada, Australia and South Africa they lent their support to help – contribute to the dream of African Union – the AU today and the future.
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