James Mancham peace centre opens at University of Seychelles
Partial view of the main campus of the University of Seychelles (Mervyn Marie, Seychelles News Agency)
(Seychelles News Agency) - The Sir James Mancham International Centre for Peace Studies and Diplomacy was launched on Friday coinciding with the 78th birthday of the late president of Seychelles.
The centre, inaugurated in a special ceremony at the Eden Bleu, on the eastern coast of Mahe, was established in 2016 under the auspices of the University of Seychelles. The centre is aiming at being an international hub for the study of peace and diplomacy -- two subjects that the late president actively supported.
Speaking at the ceremony, University of Seychelles Professor Dennis Hardy said the idea of creating an international centre was borne from discussions with Mancham.
Hardy said that Mancham had shown a keen interest in the University of Seychelles and during several meetings, it was clear that his knowledge and commitment to world peace was unique.
“I suggested that he be at the helm of a new centre, which he graciously agreed. He immediately brought to the project his own sense of unbridled enthusiasm,” Hardy said.
The professor said he wants the centre to play a full part in the national reconciliation process and be a local resource for the Department of Foreign Affairs on issues of topical concerns.
James Mancham, who was the first president of Seychelles, a group of 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean, passed on Sunday, January 8th at his residence at Glacis, a northern Mahe district. After he retired from politics, he actively promoted Seychelles’ interest abroad. In 2000, he received the “Trophy of the Foundation for Democracy in Africa for the promotion of Peace, Reconciliation and Prosperity in Africa” and 2001, was designated “Ambassador for Peace” by the International Federation for World Peace.
|Late Seychelles President James Mancham at the Kenya forum where he received the Africa peace award in 2016. (James Mancham's Office) Photo License: CC-BY|
Hardy noted that Seychelles is located just a few hours from the African continent and the Middle East, two regions where national and regional conflicts are too often evident.
The centre is expected to develop a wide range of academic programmes ranging from short courses to postgraduate degrees. It will promote interdisciplinary research on peace, good governance and democracy, with a particular emphasis on small island developing states.
The wife of Mancham, Catherine, said her husband had many dreams throughout his life, but the one that overwhelmed all others was establishing the peace centre.
“He took the first steps towards peace when he returned to Seychelles after 15 years in exile, and instead of wanting an eye for an eye he preached for forgiveness and reconciliation,” said Catherine.
“When he finally retired from the local political scene, Mancham set out to achieve his aims internationally, travelling seemingly non-stop from peace conference to conference, gaining recognition and insights on how to deal with world problems," she said.
Catherine said that as her husband became older, he worked harder to ensure he left behind the legacy of his dream. The best way to do this would be to establish an International Peace Centre in his beloved country.
The centre will also be the meeting place for local and regional practitioners and scholars to come together and find innovative ways to prolonged peace and security problems.
|Think big, but small is beautiful: Centre for Peace Studies and Diplomacy at its first forum on small island diplomacy in March. (Centre for Peace Studies and Diplomacy) Photo License: CC-BY|
The first chair of the International Board of Trustees, Maxim Behar – a Bulgarian businessman - expressed his gratitude and respect for the work and dedication that Mancham did in spreading the words of peace around the world.
Behar said that the centre is meant to be an important instrument of promotion for Seychelles.
“We are a small country with no significant international globally known political project, but now we have unique chance to create it and to have an important role on the political and diplomatic map of the world,” said Behar.