Unlocking the Creole mystery! Seychelles launches research institute to create awareness of Creole origin, identity
File Photo: A book written in Creole by a Seychellois novelist that was published in May 2016. A new Creole language and Culture Research Institute has been launched and will encompass all aspects of the Creole language and culture, including the language itself, literature, history, anthropology, origin among others. (Joena Bonenlame, Seychelles News Agency)
(Seychelles News Agency) - A new platform that will conduct research on the Creole language -- how it came about and its evolution – and on the Creole culture was launched in Seychelles on Wednesday.
The launching of the Creole language and Culture Research Institute is one of the events marking this year’s Festival Kreol, an annual weeklong celebration of the Creole heritage.
Creole is the native language of the Seychellois people and one of the three official languages used in the archipelago, alongside French and English.
The Director of the new Creole language and Culture Research Institute, Penda Choppy, said it will serve as an academic forum that will allow people to “reflect and discuss various issues as our society is still unaware of its identity and origin,” adding that this will be done through several means including round table discussions and conferences.
In Seychelles, a Creole institute [Lenstiti Kreol] has been in existence at Au Cap, on the eastern side of the main island, Mahe since 1986. According to Choppy, while the Creole Institute and the Creole language and Culture Research Institute will complement each other, the two will have completely different mandates.
“The National Creole institute is limited to the Creole language and literature, which is good because it has a specific mandate, and this is to promote and develop the Creole language,” said Choppy who until recently was the Director of the Creole Institute.
She added that while the two institutions will work together sharing resources and information, the studies undertaken by the new research institute will be at par with other university level studies.
“The research institute will encompass all aspects of the Creole language and culture, including the language itself, literature, history, anthropology, origin among others,” said Choppy.
The Creole language and Culture Research Institute is based at Anse Royale, in the east of Mahe, and is part of the Faculty of Arts and Social Development at the University of Seychelles (Unisey).
Choppy said that the University of Reunion and University of Mauritius, two neighbouring Indian Ocean Islands, have expressed their intention to collaborate with Unisey on researching the Creole language.
Creole, which is mainly derived from the French language, is the native language of the Seychelles, a 115-island archipelago in the western Indian Ocean. It resulted from the descendants of settlers from Europe, traders from Asia and former slaves from Africa, who later intermarried forming the melting pot of culture which exists today finding their own means to communicate and understand one another.
Colonised by the French and the British at different times, Seychelles eventually adopted French and English along with Creole as the three official languages.
The islanders are able to communicate with their southerly Mauritian and Reunion neighbours in their slightly different Creole, and with others who speak distant dialects of the same language from as far as Haiti and several Caribbean island nations.
The new institute is the latest step aiming to put emphasis on the Creole language and culture.
Unisey initiated a Creole language course for foreigners living in Seychelles earlier in 2016. The courses is being conducted at different levels, and Unisey aims to bring it to certificate level in the near future.