Saturday, July 14, 2018


So I made some amendments to the childhood tongue twister: She sells seashells from Seychelles down by the seashore made of sea shale. Try saying that a few times fast. (Now try it after a few drinks.) The only things I knew about the Seychelles were that they were near Africa in the Indian Ocean, and that I had read somewhere they were a popular destination for the rich and famous to spend their free time. And they have an odd double coconut. 

These islands were pretty much uninhabited, so there really isn’t a native name. The Portuguese called them the Amirantes. But it was the French who named them after their Minister of Finance to Louis XV, Jean Moreau de Séchelles. From what I gathered, the guy really didn’t do all that much for the Seychelles Islands, so they probably just owed him a favor or something.

The Seychelles Islands are located roughly 950 miles east of Kenya in the Indian Ocean. This 115-island nation is northeast of Madagascar and the Comoros Islands, north of Mauritius, and southwest of the Maldives. Some of the islands are granite-based and others are coral-based. Understandably because of its location and proximity to the equator, the Seychelles Islands are humid and tropical.  July and August are the cooler months of the year whereas the heat and humidity tend to be higher from December through April.

Although the islands weren’t readily inhabited, it’s also reasonable to think that sailors from the Maldives and the Arabian Peninsula probably visited the area. After the Portuguese arrived, the British showed up, and then the French. And there were a fair number of pirates who used the islands as a pit stop between Africa and Asia. However, the British moved back into the area and took control of the islands in 1794. The British and the French decided to work it out among themselves, and the British gains included adding the Seychelles Islands in with the Mauritius Islands, known as British Mauritius. In 1903, Seychelles separated itself from Mauritius and became a crown colony. They actually held their own elections just prior to their independence in 1976. It quickly became known as the place where the rich and famous go to play. However, there was a coup in 1977 and the new president warned about too much tourism and then put into place a strict one-party socialist system that lasted until 1991. The 1980s brought a number of coup attempts. But once they got rid of that mess, they approved a new constitution and tried to start over. In 2013, the Seychelles Islands were devastated by flooding from a tropical cyclone that tore through the islands causing quite a bit of damages.

The capital city of Victoria is found on the island of Mahé. Originally established by the British as the capital of its colonial government, the British gave it its current name after acquiring it from the French. With roughly 26,000 people in the greater capital area, there are several places of note they’re known for: their botanical gardens, their large fruit and fish market, a national stadium, a clock tower built after the Vauxhall Clocktower in London, and a couple national museums.

Seychelles’s economy is similar that of other island nations. Their major agricultural products include fish (both fresh and frozen), vanilla, sweet potatoes, cinnamon, and copra (dried coconut meat or kernels used to make coconut oil). There have been some efforts in recent years to really ramp up their tourism with more beach resort hotels and restaurants. 

The vast majority of Seychellois are Christian, with most of them following Roman Catholicism. The main Protestant denominations represented in the islands include Anglican, Pentecostal Assembly, Seventh-Day Adventist, and others. Because of Seychelles’s proximity and history with Arabs and Indians, there are also pockets of Hindus and Muslims as well. And surprisingly, there are a significant number of atheists and agnostics there.

While English and French remain as official languages from their colonial days, Seychellois Creole is also listed as an official language and spoken by most of the people there. Seychellois is a French-based Creole with a number of English words mixed in.

Miss Seychelles 2008, Elena Angione
So, I was reading about how their society is essentially a matriarchal one when it comes to taking care of the household and raising the children. In fact, unwed mothers do not share the same stigma that they do in the US. However, outside of the home, a woman’s status only goes so far. Sexual harassment, domestic abuse and rape, and discrimination still regularly occur, and the problem is that those in authority to do something about it often look the other way.  Numerous studies have shown that giving women access to education and equal job and housing opportunities are shown to help reduce poverty. This is why we need feminism.

Up next: art and literature

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