Thursday, 25 April 2013

The Creole people of Seychelles are known as friendly, care-free, exotic people. However not many people actually know much about the culture and ancestry of these wonderful people. In the Seychelles, the word ‘Creole’ refers to those native to the country of whichever ancestry, making them an indeed exotic people.

The majority of the people living in the Seychelles are Creole, and are principally of Malagasy and African origin. However the modern Creole people also include those of mixed African, Malagassy, Indian, Chinese, French and even British origins.


The Seychelles were the last of the Indian Ocean islands to be settled, and the French arrived in and around 1770 with African and Malagasy slaves to work on sugar and coffee plantations. During the first two decades, the colony was faced with various difficulties, but a demographic boom began around the late 1780s when the economy changed from the mere exploitation of the natural resources to profitable agriculture (cotton, coffee, spices).

With the Treaty of Paris in 1814, the Seychelles came under the rule of the British. Although slave trade was at that point already illegal in all British colonies, the colonies authorities found it extremely difficult to enforce this law in the Seychelles and Mauritius, and as such the slave in the Indian Ocean began to flourish. It is estimated that between 1811 and 1827 about 60,000 slaves were exported from Madagascar and East Africa to Mauritius and to the Seychelles.

After the abolition of slavery in 1835 the British Navy captured French ships still continuing in the slave trade and set the slaves "free" in the Seychelles. This led to a considerable further influx of East Africans in the 19th century.


When the French colonists, who mainly came from Mauritius, settled the Seychelles in the 1770s, they and their slaves brought some kind of stabilized Mauritian Creole along with them. 

In 1976, the Seychelles became independent, and since 1978 Seychelles Creole has been one of the three official languages along with English and French. However Creole was the native language of about 95% of the population, and in 1982 it was introduced as a language of instruction in primary schools, and is used in television, radio, court, newspaper, etc. 

Current Population

Today Creoles are found throughout the Seychelles, numbering roughly 76,000, which is more than 70% of the entire Seychellois population, and are the dominant group in politics. Seychellois Creoles are proud of their African/Malagasy heritage and have set up a Creole institute in Mahé to help promote and to help others understand their culture.

French is the language of the Roman Catholic Church in the Seychelles Islands and almost all the inhabitants of Seychelles are Christian. More than 90 percent are Roman Catholic. Sunday masses are well attended, although Hinduism and Islam are also prevalent. Religious holidays are celebrated as religious and social events.


The Seychellois Creole cuisine combines a wide variety of cooking styles, including English, French, Chinese, and Indian. Creole cooking is rich, hot, spicy, and delicious! It blends fruit, fish, fresh vegetables, and basic ingredients include pork, chicken, fish, octopus, and shellfish. People also enjoy salads and fruit desserts of mango, papaya, breadfruit, and pineapple. Local delicacies include traditional dishes such as:

· Kari zourit (a creamy octopus curry)
· Tec tec soup (a small white shellfish collected from the beaches and made into a soup usually with pumpkin)
· Poisson sale (salted dried fish)
· Bouillon brede (spinach soup)

· A variety of chutneys (side dishes made by local fruit, fish and vegetables)
· Poisson grillé (grilled fish marinated in garlic, ginger, onions and chillies)

Locally made alcoholic beverages include palm wine (calou). Bacca is a powerful sugarcane liquor drunk on ceremonial occasions. And anyone who has visited the Seychelles will have sampled the very popular local beer, Sey Brew!


Music , Dance, and Art

The Seychellois music genre of Sega is known as Moutia, with African, European, and Asian influences present in Seychellois music, dance, literature, and visual art. African rhythms are apparent in the moutia and séga dances, and the sokoué dance resembles masked African dancing, with Dancers portraying birds, animals, and trees. The contredanse is a French import, with origins in the court of King Louis XIV (1638–1715). Traditionally, Seychellois performed their music on drums, violins, accordions, and the triangle. Nowadays, the acoustic guitar is usually used as well.


Accomplished storytellers and singers pass on Seychellois culture and social customs through fables, songs, and proverbs. Storytelling is at the center of the traditional moutia performance. The moutia began during the days of slavery. Two men told stories about the hard labours of the day. Women then joined in to dance, accompanied by singing and chanting. Modern performances still involve dancing to typical African rhythms. Performers often use satire to entertain and teach people of all ages.
Seychelles’ artists exercise their skills across a broad spectrum and their works include everything from the small memorabilia you would expect to find in a tourism-driven economy through to magnificent collector’s items. The products include:

· Books
· Paintings
· Stained glass
· Coconut shell
· Husk products
· Works featuring seashells, coral and clothing
· Forms of jewellery-pearl, wood gold and silver
· Products such as bags, baskets, napkin rings, candle holders all made from recycled materials, coconut palms, fibres, bamboo, metal and pottery
· Vanilla and coconut oil/scents
· A tour around the principal islands will allow the visitor to savour the richness of artistic expression on display in many charming galleries and out-of-the-way studios 



Creole architecture is an important cultural aspect of Seychelles. The designs of some of the grand old houses are representative of an architecture adapted for comfortable living in the tropics. Steep roofs and many openings to catch the island breezes are characteristics of this. Modern architecture has attempted to assimilate traditional styles, giving more credit to the Creole architecture. There has also been a large French influence in the architecture.

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Thursday, 18 April 2013

Hidden Treasure in the Seychelles: The Legend of La Buse

At some point, every child pretended to be a pirate, dressed up as a pirate, played pirate treasure hunts, watched pirate movies, and told pirate jokes. How do you know if you're a pirate? You just arrrrr... Lame I know, but even as adults attending fancy dress parties, a common theme seems to be pirates.

But why the fascination with these thieves and hijackers of the sea of years gone by? Is it the free open air, care-free, do as you please lifestyle? The rum? The songs? The accent? Or perhaps, the reason the legend of these pirates has never died is the most obvious.... treasure. There are numerous stories of hidden or lost pirate treasure that has never been found. In the 1600's, pirates would sometimes bury their treasure on remote islands in order to keep it safe from other pirates, or prevent it from weighing down their ship. Of course these pirates would then have maps and cryptic clues in order to find the treasure... we've all seen the movies, we all know the stories.

Here in the Seychelles, many stories of hidden pirate treasure abound. In the 1600's before the Seychelles Islands were inhabited, pirates would pass through the islands and it is believed that treasure could be buried all. Evidence of pirates has been found. At Bel Ombre beach on Mahe Island, stones were found with carvings of snakes, dogs and horses, a figure of a young woman, and the head of a man. After excavations, two coffins were discovered containing the remains of two people, identified as pirates by the gold ring in their left ear. This remained a popular tourist destination until recently, but it is no longer operational.

One of the most popular and intriguing stories of a pirates hidden treasure in the Seychelles is that of Olivier Levasseur. He lived from 1680-1730, and was nicknamed La Buse or La Bouche (The Buzzard), due to the speed with which he threw himself on and ultimately overcame his enemies. In 1716, he joined the Benjamin Hornigold pirate company. After a year with the company and a year of successful looting, the Hornigold party split, and Olivier decided to try his luck on the African coast. He continued in this area until his capture and hanging for the crimes of piracy on the island of Reunion in 1730.

The grave of Olivier Levasseur
The Treasure....
"My treasure is buried here... find it who may." These were the words shouted to the crowd gathered at the foot of the gallows on the Isle de Bourbon (Reunion), as the noose tightened around the neck of the notorious French pirate Olivier Levasseur.
The legend goes that when he was hung, Levasseur had a necklace around his neck containing a cryptogram of 12 lines, and was supposed to have thrown it into the crowd whilst exclaiming: "Find my treasure, he who may understand it!" What became of this necklace is unknown, but to this day a number of treasure hunters continue to search for this treasure, estimated to be worth anything from a few million Euros to over 100 million Euros. In 1923, a Mrs. Savoy found documents describing Levasseur's treasure at a southern island in the Seychelles. There were some coordinates and text in a mysterious alphabet, which led to the previously mentioned discovery at Bel Hombre beach, which went on to become a popular tourist site. However, no treasure was found and Mrs. Savoy realised the cryptogram was much more difficult to solve than previously anticipated. In the words of a treasure hunter... "Deciphering it could be carried out only starting from the Clavicles of Solomon, two letters, a will and documents compiled in rebus or at least in initiatory writing which could be put in relation to maconnic symbolism. These documents explicitly affirmed the existence of a treasure localised on an island in the Indian Ocean. However the name of this island was not mentioned anywhere." Make of that what you will!
In 1947, Reginald Cruise-Wilkins, discovered a connection with the twelve operations of Hercules. Various tasks representing the Twelve Labours of Hercules had to be completed in a strict order to get to the treasure. The treasure chamber is located somewhere underground, and must be carefully approached in order to avoid falling victim to its many challenges. It is protected by the tides, which require damming to hold it back, and is to be approached from the north. A stairwell cut into rocks will give you access, and proceeds into tunnels under the beach. Until 1970, he searched and dug all over Mahe. He found some old guns, coins, and pirate sarcophagi, but nothing of any value. He died in 1977 before he broke the last piece of code...
Fact, fiction or legend? I suppose there is a good chance we'll never know. That's what makes it so intriguing. If there are any potential treasure hunters or cryptic code-breakers out there, below is the cryptogram described above. In the words of Olivier Levasseur: "Find my treasure, he who may understand it!"

 The cryptogram of Olivier Levasseur
The alphabet of Olivier Levasseur



Friday, 12 April 2013

Ille Platte Fishing Charter


A few weeks ago, we did a week-long charter trip tp Ille Platte, a tiny little island a few hundred kilometres from Mahe (the main island). We got some great photos and footage on the trip! Below is one such piece of footage, with the description below from our captain, Gareth Dovey.

Enjoy and share with your friends!  

"While on a fishing trip to Ille Platte with SY Nkalindau as the live aboard base and Grey Ghost as the mobile fishing boat this fish was caught, tagged, revived and released to live another day and hopefully be caught again for somebody else’s enjoyment. The angler, Cliff Dovey had never caught a sailfish before and on our first day of fishing he was fortunate enough to be next in line to catch a fish. We’d spent the day popping and jigging at the edge of a reef approximately 10nm south of Ille Platte and when we decided to call it a day and head home our fishing guide Rowan Maroun suggested we do some trolling over a spot he knows regularly produces sailfish.
With the group in high spirits after a fairly successful first day out, the more experienced of the group as well as the novice offshore anglers had whetted their appetites for the week to come.
Chatting about the day we’d had and the fish we’d caught and returned to the water, the 30lb Penn international started screaming and everybody kicked back into operational gear. Cliff was handed the rod and took a seat to fight the fish in his attempt to land another beauty for the day. Patiently retrieving line and enjoying the show as the sailfish did some impressive aerial maneuvers in an attempt to free itself from the hook , Cliff brought the fish alongside and Rowan got hold of the leader to land the fish for some quick photographs.
Once we’d captured the memories Rowan returned the fish to the water and began the process of reviving the fish so that it could swim away.
We also managed to tag the sailfish with an African Billfish Foundation coded tag to assist with the tracking of these beautiful fish.
Thanks to Jaques van Rooyen for saving the memory with this great footage."

Thursday, 4 April 2013

The Tea Factory... Seychelles

Established in 1962, this unit is responsible for growing and manufacturing tea in the Seychelles. The Tea Factory enjoys a splendid panoramic view of the western slopes of Mahé and is undoubtedly one of the finest viewing points on the island.

Here, in the cool mountain air of Morne Blanc, amid terrace upon terrace of tea plants, you will discover, first hand, how Seychelles’ tea is made. This working tea factory is located on the Sans Souci road above 3km above Port Glaud. It is recommended to visit the factory before noon, when you have the possibility to see the whole process from drying to packing.


The estate produces about 45 tonnes of organic tea per year for export. At the Tea Factory you can pass by slopes of fragrant tea, enjoying the cool island breezes and spectacular views. Tea growing and manufacturing is done on a small scale in the Seychelles, allowing local blends to thrive in a niche market. Knowledgeable and friendly staff is on hand to help at all times as you take a tour of the Tea Factory and watch the fascinating process from begin to end.
The hardest part of this tour is to decide what to tea to sample! There are quite a few blends to select from. Whilst visiting the Tea Factory is highly recommended to try the local SeyTé (Seychelles Tea). This vibrant and delightful blend combines 5 mouthwatering flavours – vanilla, cinnamon, orange, mint and lemon. Other beverages to be sampled include the tastes of vanilla or lemon grass.