Vallée de Mai celebrates Festival Kreol


05-November-2011

The two days of activities attracted tourists, school children and senior citizens who enjoyed the traditional food, music and stories as the Seychelles Islands Foundation (SIF) celebrated Festival Kreol, while demonstrating the role the environment has played in shaping the kreol culture.

“Most people recognise the environmental importance of the Vallée de Mai to Praslin and Seychelles, but it’s important we understand that it is also vital for the culture, education, economy and many other elements of Seychelles’ life,” said SIF chief executive Frauke Fleischer-Dogley.

Long seen as a vital environmental site, the Vallée de Mai has, since opening the new visitor centre in 2009, also increased in importance as a cultural centre and the SIF is keen to promote the link.

“Traditional stories and songs often make reference to our natural environment. Many traditional crafts make sustainable use of local plants and most Seychellois artists draw inspiration from the environment, especially the coco-de-mer,” she said.

To promote the links between the environment and culture, the SIF is inviting artists and crafts people to work at the Vallée de Mai visitor centre, where they will be able to answers visitors’ questions and sell their products.
The organisation, which manages the Vallée de Mai and Seychelles’ other world heritage site – Aldabra – also brought traditional musicians to the visitor centre and prepared traditional foods for sale.

“To celebrate Festival Kreol we tried to offer as much as possible for visitors to engage with. We set out a display of traditional medicinal plants with information about their properties and use. We invited senior citizens to come and tell stories to members of the Friends of Vallée de Mai from the Grand Anse and Baie Ste Anne schools. We wanted to show people how closely linked the environment is to Seychelles’ culture,” said Dr Fleischer-Dogley.

The Vallée de Mai is the largest single tourist attraction in Seychelles, welcoming 50,000 visitors every year – over one third of the total number of visitors to Seychelles. They come to marvel at the coco-de-mer forests and try to catch a glimpse of Seychelles’ national bird – the black parrot.

“Each tourist who visits the Vallée de Mai contributes to the local economy, by eating in restaurants, staying in guest houses, taking taxis, shopping and so on. The Vallée de Mai is vitally important to the economy of Praslin and Seychelles, and to our culture.”

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