President Michel urges unity at Seychelles' independence celebration
A traditional military parade where President James Michel also addressed the nation was the main event held to commemorate 40 years of Seychelles' independence on Wednesday. (Mervyn Marie, State House)
Michel described unity as “the foundation of our nation...the foundation of progress which we have built. It is the base upon which we shall build and accomplish together in future.”
June 29, 1976 was the day Seychelles got its independence from Great Britain after decades under colonial rule.
Michel said it was thanks to the vision of a group of Seychellois who believed in the ability of the islanders to transform the country.
“On that day, we Seychellois took our destiny into our own hands, conscious of the challenges ahead, but determined to overcome them and to succeed in the future,” said Michel.
The president’s address at Stad Linite – Seychelles' main stadium at Roche Caiman on the outskirts of the capital Victoria -- was delivered during the traditional military parade.
This was the last activity to mark the Independence Day of the 115-island archipelago in the western Indian Ocean.
In spite of a little drizzle during the late afternoon, the sky cleared up just in time for the parade. Hundreds of people made their way to Stad Linite, while others followed the event through a live broadcast on national television.
|President James Michel delivering his address. Many people attended the military parade which was also broadcast live on national television. (Mervyn Marie, State House) Photo License: CC-BY|
President Michel used the opportunity to pay tribute to those whom he described as the ‘great architects’ of the country. He made special mention of former President France Albert Rene and former President James Richard Mancham.
Rene, who was in favour of independence, became Prime Minister, while Mancham, who wanted Seychelles to remain a British colony, became President after they agreed on a coalition government to lead the country, as the British colonial rule over the islands came to an end.
“Our path to independence was filled with obstacles. Different camps. Not everyone had that conviction in the capacity of a free and sovereign Seychellois people. There were those who wanted independence, and those who opposed it. But this is all part of our history. In that struggle, fortunately, it was our national unity that was the great victor,” said Michel.
The Seychellois Head of State emphasized the need for unity to continue to prevail, in spite of any diversity to enable the country to move forward.
"When we don’t agree on something, there are ways, structures and institutions through which to address our differences. And we must respect those structures and institutions. They represent the Seychellois State. And we must respect divergence of opinion. It contributes to our diversity in peace. It is a measure of our maturity."
He also addressed the younger generation.
“We who are older, we who were part of the struggle together, we know this very well. Tonight, my message is for this generation which is in the making, this generation which is in the waking. Let peace, unity, love and respect become part of your lives so that the future of Seychelles is bright and promising,” Michel said.
Alongside unity he also appealed for respect, tolerance, solidarity, compassion, and for people to work together to make Seychelles move forward.
The Seychellois Head of State has described the 40th anniversary of the country’s independence as an opportune time to reflect on the actual state of the nation.
“It is the right time to appreciate our accomplishments as a people. And even more important, is to build on these accomplishments. We can do it – and much more – provided we remain united. Otherwise posterity will judge us severely.”
Michel has called for the values of love, joy, peace, harmony, solidarity and patriotism to be continuously taught to all children of Seychelles.