United Religions Initiative: Rising every time we fail


Seychelles founding President Sir James R. Mancham leaves Mahe, Seychelles, tomorrow heading for Nairobi, Kenya, where he will be presented with the Africa Peace Award 2016 which he was awarded in January this year by the United Religions Initiative (URI-Africa) for his contribution to peace in Africa and elsewhere.

The presentation will take place at a reception at the Intercontinental Hotel in Nairobi on Tuesday 12th April, 2016 on the occasion of the launching of the Joint Leadership Programme organized jointly by Common Purpose and World Leadership Alliance-Le Club de Madrid.

In an interview this morning prior to his departure, Sir James said that he would have preferred receiving the award in Seychelles among the Seychellois people but considering logistical consideration and time constraint, he was happy that the event was taking place in Nairobi.
“Kenya is the African nation with which Seychelles has been historically linked for many years before we opened our airport. I can also claim the honour and privilege of having represented the Seychelles at Kenya’s independence celebrations,” Sir James said.

Founding President Mancham said, as he departs for Kenya, he would like to thank the many friends and associates who have sent him messages of congratulations but he believes that the one received from his longtime friend and associate, Lawyer Daniel Belle, reflects, generally speaking, ‘a fair and objective background of what has led to the award.’
In a message delivered on Friday 8th April, Maître Daniel Belle, who is also Honorary President of L’Alliance Française des Seychelles states

“Sir James, my dear friend,

What tremendous pleasure I enjoy today in partaking in the great honour and gratification bestowed on you – the Africa Peace Price 2016. For over half a century, you have dedicated your energy to satisfy meaningful hard work and charismatic leadership, in politics, humanities and international relations and to humanize the resolution of political armed conflicts and civil strife.

From our remote little Seychelles, you have travelled to continents and cities far-and-wide, at times without respite, to profess the values and merits of peace within a nation and amongst nations. As an apostle of peace, you maintain your firm conviction that international conflicts should be resolved first and foremost by soft power and by the values of right and not might.

I recall that when you started in politics in the early 60s, the motto of your Seychelles Democratic Party was ‘Peace, Progress and Prosperity’. It followed that the leitmotiv of your government in the 70s was ‘a friend to all and an enemy to none’. After you were deposed, you flew high in foreign skies like the albatross, immaculately white and not tarnished. Your signatory tune was ‘Una La Paloma Blanca’, a biblical symbol of peace, silvery white, like the Hemmingway beard that carves your own face. A face on which there appears no signs of hatred, no yearning for dominant power, but the eternal friendly smile that wrinkles in unison the great lines of your own life’s history. A history, so far, made of leadership and compassion, songs and poetry, political and philosophical writing, letters, articles and speeches from which flows your political wisdom – the wisdom of the accomplished altar boy of Lodge Street, who read law at Middle Temple, was founder President of our Republic and later stood out as one of the most eminent founding fathers of our restored democratic Constitution of our Third Republic. I remember you drafted its Preamble all by yourself one night and it was approved with unanimity the next morning by the Constitutional Commission.

I recalled that upon your return from exile in 1992, before a politically polarize Seychellois nation, you controlled your calm and contained your passion. As the ‘apostle of reconciliation’, you looked at the greater picture and you resisted the spurring for quick uncertain political power and the uncalculated risks it could entail for the people.

You may have lost dominant political power in Seychelles but you have, statesmanlike, contributed tremendously towards the political stability and related happiness that you commended and that our country and people are still enjoying today.

And my dear friend and mentor, you will soon receive the Peace accolade of the leaders of Africa who have already adopted you as one of their eminent wise men. Like a Gandhi, a Desmond Tutu, and a Mandela, your name will resound and will be defined as that of the man of the Peace for which the majority of humanity is craving for, and for which the people of Seychelles are still blessed to be graced with.
Congratulations Sir James and Peace be on you, too.”

Asked for a comment on Mr Belle’s eulogical message, Sir James said – “In life our greatest glory exists not in never failing but in rising every time we fail.”