The melting pot of the many different types of people who settled the islands makes up the colourful culture of the Seychelles. In the 17th century pirates and corsairs have been using the Seychelles as a sanctuary to the French settlers and their dependents who established the archipelago’s spice and coconut plantations, from the Tamil and Chinese merchants who set up the region’s first small businesses to the British colonials who altered the Seychelles economically.
Each batch of new residents contributed uniquely to the notable blend of language, music, arts and religion that portrays the Seychelles. Seychellois culture mirrors the traditions of all the different races and nationalities that settled the archipelago, including the Islamic mariners, the French settlers, the British colonials, the Tamil and Chinese traders, and the African slaves.
Creole refer to those native to the country of whichever ancestry. The majority of people living in the Seychelles are Creole. They are mainly of African and Malagasy origin. However, today it also includes people of mixed African, Malagasy, Indian, Chinese, French and British origins.
Africans and Malagasy were brought as slaves to work on sugar and coffee plantations. These slaves were the last to be introduced to the Indian Ocean.Their origins lie in East Africa, and, to a lesser extent, Madagascar.
Creol Seychellois is one of the official language of the Seychelles. Creole has been developed from the French dialects of the original settlers. Its vocabulary is mostly French, with a few Malagasy, Bantu, English, and Hindi words. Most Seychellois can speak and understand French although English is their principal languages.
Religions And Beliefs
Practically all the inhabitants of Seychelles are Christian. More than 90 percent are Roman Catholic. Like other Africans, many Seychellois Christians still follow traditional religious practices. These may include magic, witchcraft, and sorcery. It is a common practice to consult a local fortune-teller known as a bonhomme de bois or a bonne femme de bois and to use charms known as gris-gris to harm one’s enemies.
Magic in the Seychelles
Many Seychellois continue to believe in witchery, magic and sorcery. Shamans known bonom di bwa (from the French “bonhomme de bois” or “man of the woods”) are frequently consulted to provide supernatural guidance for solving everyday problems. African slaves brought over their traditions of gris-gris or black magic. In some ways, this Seychellois folk tradition is very similar to Haitian culture. The Seychellois believe in ghosts, and if someone dies in their families they regularly keep watch over the coffin in case the wandering soul turned into a “dandotia” or zombie.
Music in the Seychelles
The Seychelles has developed very typical musical traditions, which have made fans all around the world. African influences dominate, particularly in the moutia and sega music that is often accompanied by dance.
The Moutya dance was the typical dance back in the times of slavery. It is a slow, achingly erotic dance that is usually performed to the beat of a single drum. Moutya songs are, in fact, prayers that the early slaves adapted into work songs. Moutya was once seen as so rebellious that the British colonial authorities banned it.
In contrast, sega is a musical dance with a more Calypso-like rhythm. Sega is popular in many of the West Indian islands, including Mauritius and Réunion. The one rule of sega dancing is that the feet must never leave the ground. It is usually executed by swaying of the hips and moving the arms and hands.
The music of the Seychelles is diverse. The folk music of the islands incorporates multiple influences in a syncretic fashion, including African rhythms, aesthetic and instrumentation—such as the zez and the bom (known in Brazil as berimbau), European contredanse, polka and mazurka, French folk and pop, sega from Mauritius and Réunion, taarab, soukous and other pan-African genres, and Polynesian, Indian and Arcadian music. A complex form of percussion music called contombley is popular.
The Flag Symbolism
The Seychelois’ flag consists of wedges or rays emanating from the lower left corner. The colors are yellow, red, white, and green, with a blue wedge at the upper left. The flag symbolising the ocean, the link to Africa, and the multicolored nature of the population is proudly raised on the 29th of June, on thir independence day. The government that gained power through a coup in 1977 had Marxist inclinations and used rhetoric fitting that ideology. The country has used a national rhetoric of development and the innovative spirit, especially in regard to the development of the outer islands.
Seychelles Food & Drink
The favourite dish is curry and rice, which may be eaten two or three times a day. The curry may be either fish based or meat based. Coconut milk is often used in the curries. Some even consume curries comprising of both meat and fish. Seychelles proposes a delicious cuisine with a blend of flavours that is definitely a feast to the taste buds. A typical drink is palm wine, fermented sap tapped from coconut palm fronds. And you will also have the chance to taste the famous Aphrodite endemic to the island- the Coco De Mer.
The Seychellois Creole cuisine merges an array of cooking styles, including English, French, Chinese, and Indian. Creole cooking is rich, tasty, hot, and spicy. Its fusion of fruit, fish, fresh vegetables, and spices is a pure bliss in the mouth. Basic ingredients include pork, chicken, fish, octopus, and shellfish. Coconut milk makes a good sauce for seafood meals.
Fish is served in severak ways: grilled on firewood, curried, in boullions or soups and even as steak. Turtle meat is called “Seychelles beef” and it is very famous on the island. People also enjoy salads and fruit desserts of mango, papaya, breadfruit, and pineapple which are tropical fruits available during specific seasons on the island. Locally made alcoholic beverages include palm wine(calou) and Bacca which is a powerful sugarcane liquor drunk on ceremonial occasions.
Festivals and Celebrations
The national day is celebrated on 18th June to commemorate the adoption of the constitution in 1993. On the 5th of June Liberation Day is celebrated in commemoration of the 1977 coup and on the 29th of June Independence Day is observed. Labor Day is on the 1st May and New Year is celebrated on the 1st and 2nd January. Christian holidays that are also public holidays include All Saints Day (1st November), Immaculate Conception (8th December) and Christmas Day (25th December).