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Book launch marks 50th anniversary of Mahé Shipping Company Ltd | 15 November 2019

Book launch marks 50th anniversary of Mahé Shipping Company Ltd

Mr Skerrett presents a copy of the book to President Faure (Photo: Joena Meme)

In commemoration of Mahé Shipping Company Limited’s 50th anniversary, a new book entitled ‘Seychelles, Ships and the Sea’, produced collaboratively by well-known Seychellois historians and authors, has been released detailing the numerous milestones within the local shipping industry over the past five decades.

The book was officially launched in a brief ceremony at the British high commissioner’s residence, Curio Road, yesterday evening, in the presence of President Danny Faure and other dignitaries.

During the ceremony, author of the book and director of Mahé Shipping for the past 35 years, Adrian Skerrett, briefly outlined the history of the company, which officially opened its doors in 1969 noting that ships are at the centre of Seychelles.

“The most important part of the book is Seychelles. I didn’t want to do a book just about my company but Mahé Shipping is intimately linked with the shipping services that Seychelles has had, going right back to the 19th century so obviously that comes into it,” he said.

“But the book itself goes back to the earliest times. The first chapter is a history of the Indian Ocean in maps and that goes back literally to the very earliest of times, when the first maps were produced and I find this fascinating because so little was known. To begin with, there were no islands on the map and even when they did appear, they were usually placed wrong. I enjoy writing books and I feel like a book is richer when you involve people that have got expertise and so on that they can bring to it. This was a great project as it was a unique collaboration of all the best known historians of Seychelles have contributed to a single book,” Mr Skerrett noted.

‘Seychelles, Ships and the Sea’ aims to celebrate the symbiotic relationship between the ships, islands and the people of Seychelles from the earliest times, to modern day. Among the contributors are Mr Skerrett himself, his wife Judith Skerrett, William McAteer, Julien Durup, Tony Mathiot and Gerry Adam. It comprises chapters about the history of the Indian Ocean, different types of ships, shipwrecks as well as a chapter about the modern port and the future of the shipping industry.

Addressing all present, British high commissioner to the Seychelles, Patrick Lynch, expressed his appreciation for the book which describes the central role that the ocean plays as the lifeblood of island nations noting that oceans “shape our work, our culture, our cuisine, our music, our art and it gives us a very welcome sense of humility and perspective”.

Speaking of the UK and the Seychelles and their shared experiences of the ocean, High Commissioner Lynch noted that this presents a great opportunity to action shared values.

“For example, the scourge of piracy was massively reduced through collaborative working with experts here in the Seychelles and we continue to work in many areas of maritime security. The UK strongly supports the world leading efforts of Seychelles on the Blue Economy and the need to ensure maritime protection and sustainable approaches to working in our oceans. Of course, we are connected through the flow of trade between our two countries through establishing shipping routes,” he said in reference to the pivotal influence Mahé Shipping had on the local shipping industry.

The first copy of the book was presented to President Faure before the longest-serving employee of the organisation, Gitanne Gendron, who has served the company for 50 years since its existence, was invited to cut the cake.

A second ceremony to commemorate the 50th anniversary and launch of the book will be held at the Espace building this evening.

 

Laura Pillay

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