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Inscription of ‘moutya’ to Unesco’s list of intangible cultural heritage |17 December 2021

Inscription of ‘moutya’ to Unesco’s list of intangible cultural heritage

Mayor Andre looks on as a group of moutya drummers gear up for a performance

‘A great pride, formidable, historic moment for Seychelles,’ says Mayor Andre


The inscription on Wednesday of the Seychelles ‘moutya’ cultural dance on the representative list of Unesco’s intangible cultural heritage of humanity as a global treasure that must be preserved is a sense of great pride and a formidable and historic moment for Seychelles.

The Mayor of Victoria David Andre, who is also the secretary general for the Seychelles National Institute for Culture, Heritage and the Arts, made the statement yesterday following the news.

“It shows how the entire world, through the Unesco (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation), is valorising this piece of Seychelles heritage which at one time we were not paying much attention to. But it is thanks to the hard and painstaking work of a devoted group of people working in the archives, museum, culture department and the cultural heritage among others which has finally resulted in the dossier being submitted to Unesco and today the world knows that Seychelles possesses this wonderful piece of cultural heritage that is being shared with people all over the world,” Mr Andre said.

“This is a great pride for all Seychellois and I hope that through this declaration the ‘moutya’ will claim its rightful place in our culture and that we will not only enjoy it, but we will ensure it remains alive in all our communities and that different initiatives are put in place to ensure our young people understand and learn the dance so that it can be easily passed on from generation to generation,” Mr Andre remarked.

But is Mr Andre satisfied that Seychelles has done enough to preserve the ‘moutya’ and ensure the knowledge of the dance is transferred to the different generations? “I am not yet satisfied, but I believe with this inscription by the Unesco, it will motivate us and raise our awareness on the importance of the work that lay before us in all sectors, namely education, culture to ensure we do all we have to do to keep the ‘moutya’ alive,” Mr Andre replied.

He also warned that activities surrounding the ‘moutya’ should not be artificial and frivolous, but authentic at all times to ensure visitors to our shores benefit fully from this piece of our cultural heritage.

“We have a lot of work to do but in a coordinated manner at all levels ‒ community, education, culture, heritage ‒ to put in place the necessary framework to ensure everything is done properly,” Mr Andre pointed out.

He noted that the important thing is for people to be well informed on the ‘moutya’ to be able to identify the authentic dance.

Meanwhile, Mr Andre is calling on musicians to also use the ‘moutya’ as a source of inspiration to create new music, to develop and enrich the dance and bring added value to it while at the same time preserving its authenticity.

Mr Andre has said it would be important for the ‘moutya’ to be part of school’s extra-curricular activities if we really want it to be passed on from generation to generation.

He said he’s had a discussion with the minister for education who is very keen to push forward the idea.

On another front, Mr Andre said in view of the persisting Covid-19 situation, it would not be possible for any physical activities surrounding the ‘moutya’ to be organised to give people the chance to celebrate and enjoy the ‘moutya’. He is calling on the media to use their power by all means to promote this piece of our cultural heritage.

Mr Andre said the Seychelles National Institute for Culture, Heritage and the Arts meanwhile is working on a big project to bring to Paris a cultural event which would feature the ‘moutya’ with the support of the Unesco by the end of June next year if the health situation permits.


Marie-Anne Lepathy

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