A royal welcome – Ashanti king and Swazi princess arrive in Seychelles as carnival fever peaks
The Ashanti King, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, presented President Michel with a traditional royal robe, which the Seychellois head of state put on in honour of their first meeting. (Mervyn Marie, Seychelles News Agency)
(Seychelles News Agency) - The Ghanaian king of the Ashanti people or Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, arrived in the Seychelles on Wednesday evening as the guest of honour for the upcoming fifth annual Carnaval International de Victoria.
The international carnival, which begins on Friday April 24, has this year attracted the participation of twenty-nine countries, one of which is Ghana.
In addition, Swaziland’s King Mswati III sent his eldest daughter, Principal Princess Sikhanyiso Dlamini, to watch over the tiny Southern African kingdom’s cultural delegation, which will be taking part in the Seychelles carnival for the very first time.
Both African royals were welcomed at the airport by the Seychelles Tourism and Culture Minister, Alain St. Ange, and were then received by the President of Seychelles, James Michel, at State House in the Seychelles capital of Victoria on Thursday morning.
Unique historical ties
According to a press statement issued by State House on Thursday afternoon, the Ashanti King is keen to develop further cooperation between Ghana and the Seychelles, and he presented President Michel with a traditional royal robe, which the Seychellois head of state put on in honour of his visitor.
The Asantehene is making a historic visit to the Seychelles, the country of his royal family’s exile almost 120 years ago.
In the year 1896, at the height of British colonialism in Africa, the British government discontinued the office of Asantehene – the absolute ruler of the Ashanti people – and exiled the then-king, Nana Agyeman Prempeh I, the current Asantehene’s great uncle.
27 years later, the British allowed Prempeh I to return home in 1926 but initially only permitted him to adopt a lesser title, eventually restoring Ashanti self-rule and the title of Asantehene in 1935.
Two months ago, Prempeh I’s great-granddaughter, Princess Molly Germaine Prempeh, who was born in Seychelles, returned in an emotional visit to the Indian Ocean archipelago of 115 islands after a 60-year absence, telling SNA of her wish to enjoy her sunset years in the land of her birth.
During his visit to State House, the current Asantehene "commended the beauty of the country and its people", adding that his visit was an opportunity to learn more about the exile of King Prempeh I, his great-uncle.
In his statement, President Michel expressed the Seychelles' commitment to preserve the unique historical links and heritage between the two countries.
"The International Carnaval de Victoria provides us with an opportunity to showcase the many parallels in our culture and history as well as our ambitions to continue forging together our development agenda for the benefit of our people,” said Michel.
Tourism promotion through diversity
After the King's visit, the President then received Princess Sikhanyiso. The Princess, who is the eldest of Swazi King Mswati III's 30 children, holds the title of 'Chief Maiden'.
|Two royals in one day: after greeting the Ashanti King, Seychelles President James Michel received the Principal Princess of Swaziland, Sikhanyiso Dlamini. (Mervyn Marie, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY|
The Princess delivered greetings to President Michel from her father and expressed his wish to further develop ties between Swaziland and Seychelles, adding that she was very impressed by the natural beauty of the country and the hospitality of its people.
In his statement, Michel thanked Princess Sikhanyiso for being present at the Carnival this weekend and also expressed gratitude to her country's delegation for participating in the event, adding that the "melting pot of cultures" in Seychelles was an ideal place to showcase other diverse civilisations, customs and cultures..
“We can use the strength of this diversity to promote tourism and other elements of our development agenda," he said.
|Swazi Princess Sikhanyiso was personally greeted by Seychelles Tourism and Culture Minister Alain St. Ange when she arrived at the Seychelles International Airport (Seychelles Tourism Board/Facebook) Photo License: CC-BY|
A flurry of arrivals
Since last Sunday, the Seychelles International Airport has been buzzing with activity as delegates from different countries began to arrive in preparation for their participation in the carnival, the delegations from Spain and Italy being the first to arrive.
Monday saw the arrival of the Mauritian team comprising 22 members, and on Tuesday a 28-member delegation from Cambodia and a four-person team from South Korea touched down in Seychelles, along with the highly-anticipated Brazilian Sao Paolo Samba School, popularly known as the Momo King Group.
The Cote d’Ivoire, Zambian and Swedish teams have also touched down in the Indian Ocean archipelago for the festivities.
|A glimpse of the carnival decorations in the Seychelles capital of Victoria ahead of the upcoming carnival this week. (Patrick Joubert, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY|
Since last week the tiny capital of Victoria has been decked out with colourful banners, streamers and balloons in anticipation of the upcoming festivities and the island nation’s population seems to well and truly have caught the carnival fever, with shops buzzing and stalls selling colourful wigs and masks to passersby.
The Carnaval International de Victoria will be officially opened on Friday evening and the grand parade will take place from 3 pm on Saturday. The Kiddies Carnival competition, prize-giving and closing ceremonies will take place on Sunday April 26.