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Seychelles’ 47th Independence Day anniversary |28 June 2023

The struggle of a people


Tomorrow, June 29, Seychelles will celebrate the 47th anniversary since gaining its independence from Great Britain.

The day will be marked by a parade in the streets of Victoria and the guest of honour is Rwandan President Paul Kagame who is here at the invitation of the President of the Republic of Seychelles, Wavel Ramkalawan.

The country’s Independence Day officially also became the National Day in June 2015 ‒ a decision which was taken by former President James Michel.

This came 39 years after the country became independent and Seychelles joined a number of countries whose national day is linked to the day of independence.

This is because a National Day is the most important occasion for a country as it is linked to a defining moment in its history.

After June 5 during the one party state, the country’s National Day was celebrated on June 18 for 20 years. This date marked the start of the Third Republic when the Constitution of the country was adopted.

The Seychelles ruling party Parti Lepep (now United Seychelles) congress voted a resolution on May 31, 2014 to ask the government to make June 29 the Seychelles National Day as from 2015, which is the anniversary of the country’s independence from Britain in 1976. June 18 is since known as Constitution Day and it was celebrated for the first time in 2015.

Addressing the throng of people at Stad Linite on June 18, 2014, President Michel described the decision to change the date of the National Day to June 29 as an effort to create greater national unity.

“We need national unity in order to undertake the long march toward the New Frontier. We need to unite the whole nation for a common cause – Seychelles.  We have to go forward in peace and harmony. If our origins and our diversity are not an obstacle for us to live together in peace, then why should our political affiliations divide us?  Why do we allow our ideological differences to disrupt our harmony? The only solution, I am convinced, is national unity. For all Seychellois, the link between national unity and independence is inseparable,” said Mr Michel.

He stressed that choosing the day Seychelles gained its Independence on June 29 as the new National Day “is dictated by historic reasons”.

“This date symbolises the birth of a people, hope for the future, the achievement of victory, the crowning of a struggle. It also represents the unity of a people in a great manifestation of patriotic fervour. The 29th of June is an incontestable date in our history. It is a date that is unanimously accepted among Seychellois. It is a unifying date. A date that rallies us around the symbols that represent our wealth, happiness and well-being of the people that we are. It is about national unity, patriotism, solidarity, fraternity, love and respect for our fellow Seychellois,” said President Michel.

He added: “It is quite right that we commemorate this indisputable date in our history with the importance that it deserves. That we accord it greater political, social, moral, institutional and cultural recognition. No one will ever contest this decision. It is the people themselves who have decided. We are doing it for all Seychellois. For our children. For posterity. For national unity.”


The struggle for independence


The struggle for Independence started in the early 1960s.

In its issue of Friday May 10, 1974 the Seychelles Bulletin wrote that James R. Mancham, the Chief Minister of Seychelles, led a delegation of ministers and Legislative Assembly members to London and held talks with Joan Lestor, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

Mr Mancham and his Seychelles Democratic Party (SDP) who had just won the general elections, as well as the Seychelles People’s United Party (SPUP) led by France Albert Rene had campaigned for independence for Seychelles.

At preliminary talks with Miss Lestor on May 9, it was agreed that a constitutional conference would be held in London in the autumn of that year (1974). Both the governing party of Seychelles and the opposition would be invited to attend in accordance with normal practice.

Meanwhile, in its issue of Monday January 19, 1976, the Seychelles Bulletin reported that Prime Minister Mancham, who was accompanied by ministers France Albert Rene and Chamery Chetty at the Constitutional conference in London, declared that Seychelles was seeking republican status.

Mr Mancham also called on her Majesty’s government to return the islands of Aldabra, Desroches and Farquhar to the Seychelles sovereignty.

“These islands are an integral part of the Seychelles archipelago … and we have plans to proceed with their development immediately after their return,” Mr Mancham was quoted as saying.

On June 24, 1976, the Seychelles Bulletin wrote that the ownership as opposed to the sovereignty of the groups of islands: Aldabra, Farquhar, and Desroches was transferred from the BIOT (British Indian Ocean Territory) to the government of Seychelles when the Commissioner of BIOT Collin Hamilton Allan signed the deeds of transfer at Government House at 3.30pm on Wednesday June 23, 1976.

The transfer marked the first stage of the handover of the islands from BIOT to Seychelles which will culminate with the transfer of sovereignty on Independence of Seychelles on June 29, 1976.

At the Independence ceremonies which marked the end of the British era in the islands’ history, Queen Elizabeth was represented by the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester.

Administrative powers were released and assumed with impressive courtesy and dignity. At midnight on the night of June 28, 1976 the most moving moment for the very first time, the flag of the new independent nation was hoisted into the Seychelles sky while simultaneously the Union Jack was respectfully lowered.

The new President of Seychelles James Mancham and his Prime Minister France Albert Rene took the oath of allegiance and watched the hoisting of the Seychelles colours.

Bishop Felix Faul, Catholic Bishop of Seychelles and the Anglican Bishop asked for divine blessing on the new state in order that “a new country be built where men can live as brothers in a world which knows only love”.

All official speeches were made in English, French and Creole.

After several years of struggle for recognition as a sovereign nation, for liberty from colonisation, for freedom from poverty, finally on June 29, 1976, Seychelles, with a small population of around 60,000 then, saw the dawn of a new era.

Seychelles became a Republic with its own flag, national anthem, Constitution and new coalition government. Seychelles was independent at last…


The ministers of the coalition government


The Ministers were:

• Chamery Chetty – Minister for Finance since October 1975

• David Gerald Joubert: Minister for Tourism and Aviation since 1975

• Guy Phillippe François Sinon: Minister for Education and Social Development since 1975

• Jean Desire Maxime Ferrari: Minister for Labour and Social Security since June 1975

• Justin Gervais James Pragassen, Minister for Health and Welfare

• Andre Desire Uzice: Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food since June 2, 1975

• Philippe France Moulinie: Minister for Port and Marine Services since June 1975

• Robert Georges Delorie: Minister without Portfolio in the Prime Minister’s Office since November 1970

• Gonzague Albert D’Offay: Minister without Portfolio with responsibilities in Prime Minister’s Office and Ministry of Health and Welfare

• Philibert Loizeau: Minister without Portfolio with responsibility in the Ministry of Works and Land Development.


‘Hard-gained freedom brought about by independence was worth it’ ‒ France Albert Rene


Former President France Albert Rene, then Prime Minister-elect who stood beside Seychelles First President Sir James Mancham on the evening of independence 40 years ago in Victoria when Seychelles’ own first tri-coloured (red, white and blue) flag was hoisted replacing the British Union Jack, delivered a moving speech on that evening.

Half the population had converged on the semi-lighted streets of Victoria for the occasion using all means of transport available then.

“Tonight we are here together to take part in the greatest event in the history of Seychelles, for tonight a new country is born, a new people emerges. What a sense of joy, what a sense of fulfillment, for all of us”.

Mr Rene went on to send a loud and clear message to the people gathered for this auspicious occasion:

“Unless we are united in purpose, unless we are dedicated together to the uplifting of our new nation, we shall fail.

“Let us  therefore tonight, all of us, at this fantastic moment of our history dedicate ourselves never to hesitate to contribute our efforts to create a society in which no-one will fail to do his duty and in which no one will go in need, a new society created for the Seychellois, by the Seychellois”.

In an interview with Seychelles NATION on the eve of the 40th Independence Day anniversary commemoration in 2016, Mr Rene was of the view that Seychelles has lived up to these principles.

Through hard work and remaining true to these principles Seychelles has remained on the path of continued development and progress.

Mr Rene said independence was the way forward.

“I wanted a better life for our young people, good education, improved living standards through modern infrastructure and better working conditions for all. We have them all now, 40 years after gaining our independence,” said Mr Rene.

He added: “Independence opened many doors and today 40 years on, the hard and uneven road is far behind us. The struggle has been painful but the hard-gained freedom brought about by independence 40 years ago was worth it all!”

Mr Rene also described Independence Day as a “great day for me as it was the fruit of a lengthy battle since 1964 when we started fighting for independence”.

“At that time Seychelles did not belong to us. It belonged to the British. They even took some islands – Aldabra, Farquhar and Desroches – to be part of the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT). We were against this move and we asked them to return the islands to us and to let us decide our future. At that time, the Seychellois were very poor and there were very few employment opportunities. There was no development and the British were not interested in developing the country. They only wanted to use Seychelles. This is why we (Seychelles People’s United Party – SPUP) were in favour of independence while the other party (Seychelles Democratic Party – SDP) wanted Seychelles to remain a British dependent. We did not want to stay under British rule,” continued Mr Rene.


‘Seychelles’ independence reveals and reflects both the positive and negative sides of being an independent nation’ ‒ James Mancham


For his part, Seychelles’ first President James Mancham had this to say when asked about the positives and negatives of being an independent nation and his answer was published in the same edition which carried the interview given by Mr Rene.

“The history of Seychelles from the day of its independence to date certainly reveals and reflects both the positive and negative sides of being an independent nation.

“On the positive side, a national spirit of being a Seychellois was born. We acquired our own national anthem, our own currency, our own passport, our own stamps and our own flag and we were all in one and the same boat being driven in the difficult waters of geopolitics which was the order of the day during the Cold War. When we became independent, we had declared, under the banner of our coalition government, that we were ‘a friend to all and enemy to none’. The population had put their faith in us leading the nation (myself as President and Mr René as Prime Minister) to put the interest of the nation first of all. But sadly, there was a coup d’Etat and the introduction of one-party rule within the nation. Suddenly people were being arrested for their partisan views and thousands had to flee the country for life in exile. This certainly has been a high social price to pay for any nation as small as our self,” said President Mancham.

Commenting on if Seychelles had made the progress expected of any nation, Mr Mancham said: “Since its independence, Seychelles has faced three phases with respect to economic progress and social development. The coalition period was most promising. Private overseas development and even outside nation investments was at a very low level during the one-party rule. However, private investment started to flow back into the country after 1992, after I had returned to Seychelles and initiated the politics of national reconciliation. This is when new buildings started to go up as well as new housing developments. But over the last 10 years the progress has been almost magical.

“Besides development assistance from China and India for geopolitical consideration, President James A. Michel has been able to nurture a very special relationship with the leaders of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Against this friendship background, several essential and prestigious projects have materialised which has resulted in an international investor’s view that if the goodwill of the UAE towards Seychelles continue, the Republic of Seychelles could really become a success story, at least, economically speaking.”


The band that orchestrated ‘En Avant’


The Seychelles national anthem ‘En Avant’ was played by the band of the H. M. Royal Marines, Royal Marines School of Music, wrote the Seychelles Bulletin in its June 5, 1976 issue.

The band was based at the Royal Marines School of Music at Deal in Kent. It was the premier band of the Royal Marines and was considered the finest of all the British military bands.

In the same issue, Minister of Works and Lands, France Albert Rene, received a cheque for £10,000 from Mr Crane, the manager of Barclays Bank in Seychelles to be used for part of the independence celebrations landscaping work in Victoria.


Seraphin Madeleine proudly hoisted new Seychelles flag


Seraphin Madeleine is one of the two Seychellois police officers who hoisted the new Seychelles flag on the day the country got its Independence from Great Britain.

The other is Max Fontaine who has since passed away.

Speaking to Seychelles NATION, Mr Madeleine described how he felt on that day:

“I was very emotional, but proud on that day. As a young police officer I was chosen to hoist the new Seychelles flag. Our country had gained nationhood, breaking free from colonial domination. It was a very nice feeling.”

Mr Madeleine was aged 28 years old at that time and was an inspector in the police force which he served for 25 years, from 1962 to 1987.


Seychelles NATION newspaper as young as the country


The Seychelles NATION newspaper is as young as the country. The newspaper which dates back to the 1920s, changed its name to NATION on the day of independence – June 29, 1976.

In fact, between 1926 and 1929, the government started publishing a daily leaflet called Reuters' Telegrams and Advertisers.  In 1942, the name changed to Government Bulletin and 19 years later (in 1961) it was called Seychelles Bulletin.

The bulletin published mostly colonial government advertising, copra and cinnamon prices, laws being introduced by colonial government and a limited  number of national news items. There were also some international news transcripts from the BBC.

The name Seychelles Bulletin stayed on until June 28, 1976.


Compiled by Gerard Govinden

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