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Honouring Indian contributions to Seychelles - Seychelles India Day 2015 unveils 'Wall of History'

Victoria, Seychelles | October 3, 2015, Saturday @ 14:20 in Entertainment » ARTS & CULTURE | By: Salifa Magnan, Julia Malbrook and Sharon Uranie | Views: 3466
Honouring Indian contributions to Seychelles - Seychelles India Day 2015 unveils 'Wall of History'

The 'Wall of History' honouring Seychellois of Indian origins is an initiative of the island nation's Minister for Tourism and Culture Alain St Ange (pictured first from left) at the unveiling on Friday. (Joena Bonnelame, Seychelles News Agency)

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(Seychelles News Agency) - Over 50 Seychellois of Indian origin recognized for having made significant contributions towards the history, culture, socio-economic development and nation-building of the Indian Ocean archipelago of 115 islands, have been honoured as part of activities to mark the third Seychelles India Day.

The names of those individuals, all of whom have since passed away, have been engraved on marble slabs that make up the ‘Wall of History’, which was unveiled on Friday at the Seychelles national cultural centre, in the island nation’s capital of Victoria.

The list goes back as far as the first settlers which included Chary, Moutou, Menate, Corinthe and Domaigne, who were among the party led by the French to arrive in Seychelles on August 27, 1770, followed by the first traders and others who came after, many of whom were businessmen.

Unveiling ceremony of the Wall of History memorial at the Seychelles cultural centre in Victoria, Friday afternoon. (Joena Bonnelame, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY

Uninhabited prior to their discovery by Portuguese explorer, Vasco Da Gama in 1502, the Seychelles islands has a population of around 93,000 people.

The Creole nation is today primarily made up of the descendants of five groups: French, British, African, Chinese and Indian settlers.

The Seychelles Minister for Tourism and Culture who is the brainchild of the ‘Wall of History’ said that it was aimed at eventually honouring all of the five founding pillars of the Seychellois nation.

“The five makes us who we are today; this proud, this nice group of people that we call the Creole Seychellois people…” St Ange told SNA in an interview.

St Ange noted that after identifying the first five Indian settlers the task was handed over to the Indian Community in Seychelles to come up with the remaining list of people who have been honoured, adding that it had to be people who lived in Seychelles, did business in Seychelles and helped to build Seychelles.

Chetty, Jivan, Pillay, Meghjee, Naidoo, Adam Moosa, Temooljee and others are some of the family names featured on the ‘Wall of History’.

Over 50 names of Seychellois of Indian origin who have contributed towards the socio-economic development of the country have been engraved on marble slabs. (Joena Bonnelame, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY

“I feel very proud and happy that my grandfather and father have been honored. This will allow the generation to come to know what they have contributed and done,” Sashi Senthil, told SNA.

Sashi is the daughter of K.D Pillay also known as Mr Deenu, a highly respected entrepreneur who passed away last year at the age of 76.

“My grandfather’s, father’s and uncle’s names are on the wall. They have contributed in […] the retail business. My father came [to Seychelles] at the age of 17 and he was commonly known as Mr. Deenu. He was [also] involved in many social activities such as the fight against diabetes; he helped with the Indian association and the overall welfare of the society.”

Indian businessman Ramu Pillay who is also the Chairman of the Seychelles India Day Committee believes the initiative will push the new generation to also make valuable contributions in Seychelles.

Represented on the Wall of History are his great grandfather, grandfather and father as well as other family members who have for over 130 years contributed in the development of Seychelles.

“The T. M. K Pillay families are my relatives. They have contributed in business, agriculture and other economic sectors. We started with shops and we progressed to contribute in diverse economic sectors,” Pillay told SNA.

Curious visitors at the event, some searching for the names of their ancestors. (Joena Bonnelame, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY

Seychelles and India have enjoyed diplomatic relations since the Indian Ocean island nation gained independence in 1976.

This year saw the first visit in March of an Indian Prime Minister in 34 years followed by a State Visit by the Seychelles President James Michel in India in August.

The Seychelles India Day celebrations combined with what has been dubbed the IndiaFest 2015, launched Friday evening will proceed until Monday with an array of spectacular performances by famous singers, actors, musicians and dancers.

World-renowned sand sculptor Sudarsan Pattnaik, will also be at Beau Vallon beach on Sunday, to present his second piece done in Seychelles. 

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Tags: Wall of History, Indian origin, Alain St Ange, Seychelles India Day, IndiaFest 2015

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