He has what a world leader should have. A global vision.
He is the Minister of Culture and Tourism of a small island nation, the Republic of the Seychelles.
His vision of unity and peace is to get the world together in one of the smallest capital cities of the world, the capital city of Victoria.
This is a transcript of a remarkable speech by the Seychelles Minister of Culture and Tourism to his people and the world and on the occasion of the opening of the Carnaval International de Victoria.
This is his message to the people of the Seychelles and to the world:
Six years ago we launched an event to unite the world of culture through a carnival. This event, staged under the banner of the melting pot of cultures, fast became known by the press fraternity as the Carnival of Carnivals. Our success as a country is thanks firstly to the People of Seychelles who come out in large numbers to celebrate Carnival Time in Seychelles. Thank you also to the Team at the Tourism Board who are duly assisted by Staff at the Culture and Tourism Departments and the National Arts Council. We know that they are often in the firing line because they are doing something for Seychelles and for the people of Seychelles. Yes they work hard, and yes they continue to deliver for Seychelles, and they even sacrifice a lot to make it all happen and in so doing they keep the industry that is the pillar of our economy moving from strength to strength.
We have also been successful because of the support we have received from our co-hosts, and today with us, is once again, Reunion Island, the Switzerland of the Indian Ocean because of its incredible mountains, represented here by Vitry Faouzia the « Conseillere régionale » who is replacing President Didier Robert , and South Africa, the Rainbow Nation represented here by their Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom. Our co-hosts, like us, believe in their people, and are proud enough of their culture to help stage an event that will showcase their people alongside the best from the world of carnivals. Please give the dedicated Team at the Tourism Board, the Staff at the Tourism and Culture Departments, the Team at the national Arts Council and our co-hosts a big round of applause.
No less than 23 delegations have flown to Seychelles for this year’s carnival. To you all I say, you are once again proudly flying your flag, you from the Community of Nations are flying your flag at an event now referred to as the United Nations Gathering of Culture. Like us you know and appreciate that showcasing one’s culture is putting people at the forefront, because we cannot have culture without our people.
You have all realised that through your culture you will consolidate your respective tourism industries, and that through this carnival in Seychelles you can get more visibility for your country than at any tourism trade fair we all religiously attend, and at which we fight to get an interview with the press. We all know that the success of our respective tourism industries is dependant on how visible we are, because it is visibility that keeps us relevant in the highly competitive world of tourism.
Here in Seychelles, year after year some 125 members of the press from the four corners of the world join this event they have named the United Nations Gathering of Culture. Here the press see a diversity of culture at one event, and here the press see proud nations showcasing their people through their culture, as they place their culture and people at the centre of their marketing instead of using promotional brochures. Let me say a big thank you to the press gathered here. We value your presence, thank you for being here with us.
Today we confirm that we have dedicated this 2016 edition of our carnival to Unity. We know that the safety label of tourism destinations is their key USP, their unique selling point, and one that would-be tourists look out for. Recent events in the world have pushed even the United Nations World Tourism Organisation to meet to discuss tourism and security following the spate of bombs in Paris, Kenya and Tunisia and even more recently in Belgium amongst many other targets. Tourism Ministers said we could no longer be bye-standers in this crisis that affects their industry and the economies of their respective countries. Unity, peace and security is music to our ears, and we must all work at it to ensure we safeguard it. Here you are safe and will be safe because we, Seychelles, are proud to say we are friends of all and enemies of none, and here in Seychelles immaterial of your political affiliation, immaterial of the colour of your skin or immaterial of your religious belief you are welcome and you can all stand side by side, walk side by side and shake hands with each other because we are all part of the children of this world – our world.
But as we talk of Unity at this edition of our carnival we need to also take a look at us, the People of Seychelles as we have just come out of a Presidential election. We have but one Seychelles, and we are but one people and at this cultural event we are all standing together tonight, and will stand together tomorrow and throughout the day of Sunday crammed along the streets of Victoria, and we shall all realise that political affiliation is not a ticket to divide us as a people. It is definitely not a mandate to breed discord. This appeal to unite as one people is a reflection of what we see in our passports when we travel. Our Nationality is recorded as Seychellois and not red, green, blue, yellow etc. We are, and we remain one people in our Seychelles as we enjoy this carnival spreading the theme of unity here in Seychelles and in the world at large.
Today seven of the top carnivals of the world are in Seychelles for this year’s edition of our carnival. Notting Hill Carnival from the UK, the Brazil Carnival, the Carnival from Indonesia, the Dusseldorf Carnival from Germany, the Carnival from Italy are all back again, and this year they are joined by the Carnival from France and the Cologne Carnival from Germany. This is the only carnival where you can all parade together. We appreciate your presence and we wish you well in the competition for the title of the best carnival delegation at the carnival of carnivals.
The same wish for the best cultural float, best Seychelles float, best school float etc goes to every delegation participating in tomorrow’s carnival parade.
We need also today to say thank you to the sponsors and partners who have worked with the Tourism Board. It is very clear that our island’s tourism trade and the local business community have understood the need for Seychelles to remain relevant as a tourism destination, and that for this to happen it needs to continue to increase its visibility. Your support has been appreciated. The financial contributions, large or small, and all the offers for assistance have been appreciated and you are all listed now as our partners.
(delivered in Creole) People of Seychelles, dear friends present with us for this edition of our carnival. Today we again re-confirm that we have dedicated this 2016 edition of our carnival to Unity. We know that the safety label of tourism destinations is and remains their unique selling point and one that would-be tourists look out for. Here in Seychelles our visitors are safe and will be safe because we, Seychelles, can proudly say we are friends of all and enemies of none, and as we said earlier, here immaterial of your political affiliation, the colour of your skin or your religious belief you are welcome and can stand side by side, walk side by side and shake hands with each other because we are all part of the children of this world – our world.
But as we talk of Unity, through this edition of our carnival we in Seychelles need to also take a look at ourselves as we have just come out of our Presidential election. We have but one Seychelles, and we are but one people, and at this popular event we are all standing together tonight, and we will stand together tomorrow and on Sunday crammed along the streets of Victoria. It is time for us as a Nation to realise that political affiliation is not a ticket to divide us as a people. It is definitely not a mandate to breed discord. This appeal to unite as one people is a reflection of what we see in our passports when we travel. Our Nationality is recorded as Seychellois and not red, green, blue, yellow etc. We are, and we must remain one people in our Seychelles as we enjoy this carnival spreading the theme of unity here in Seychelles and in the world at large.
For Seychelles and for our population as a whole we are today hosts of an event bringing the world to our shores. We have more press personalities here than we have ever welcomed before, and the success of this show in Victoria is dependant on all of us. This cultural manifestation is the largest single event we stage, and one that makes our country proud. We have said over and over again that we are the proud Creole Seychellois People with historical links to five main ethnic branches. This is why we celebrate the Fete de La Francophonie with a day blocked for France to mark the time we were a department of France. We celebrate FetAfrik on Africa Day to mark the attachment we have with mainland Africa, we celebrate the Commonwealth Day and block a day for Great Britain to mark our time as a British Colony. We stage a Seychelles – India Day Celebration and a Seychelles – China Day Celebration to mark our links with India and China. These five celebrations culminate annually to our Festival Kreol every October on World Creole Day, because this is a celebration of what we are today as the proud Creole People of Seychelles.
We also know and we are often reminded that we have a sixth group in Seychelles and this is the new Seychellois, those who have moved to make Seychelles home. We recognise you all and we invite you to see the annual October celebration, our Festival Kreol as your celebrations as well, because in our diversity we see you and us as one.
(delivered in French) Since we moved into the world of events we have opened more doors for our people, and this we are happy because small and large entrepreneurs see themselves in events that appear on our Calendar of Events, as they see themselves in this carnival. Important is to also state that we are also delivering on a core responsibility, that is organising something for our people. This responsibility is often taken lightly, but all of us at the Tourism Board and at the Ministry of Tourism and Culture and the National Arts Council, we know that we need to provide for our people, provide what the people want and what the people enjoy.
People of Seychelles, members of the carnival and cultural delegations present in Seychelles let us join together to say it is now Carnival Time in Seychelles, and let the party begin.