The true colours of Seychelles | 28 April 2020
We may live in a beautiful paradise but there is a dark black underbelly that has come to surface in the last few weeks. Racism has existed in Seychelles for several years but it’s now in a crisis that it is rearing its ugly head and we are showing our community what we are made of.
Times have become tough with the forex shortage and rising cost of living. The first target of our frustration is the Indian community. People on a Facebook page, Seychelles Daily, have been saying send them back on flights or if no flights are available, send them back in containers.
Another social media page abuses Indian merchants for increasing prices, calling them “invasive species” and “malbar invaders” and far worse things that cannot be repeated. One nasty comment instigates others and fans the flames of racial divide. Some of the posts rise to the level of hate speech and encourages violence, even suggesting that a pick-up run over malbars. This continues unchecked by law enforcement.
Our hatred seems to be directed at the Indian country as well. When UAE donated some medical supplies, we thanked them profusely. When India donated food and essential medicines, some at the request of the Seychelles government, comments on social media were rabidly racist, telling the Indian government to feed their poor first and take their Indians back on a cargo flight. India assisted many of its neighbours including Nepal, Sri Lanka, Maldives and Mauritius.
The silence from our leaders, whichever the party, is deafening. By not condemning it, they are silently condoning it. They have a responsibility to speak up before this gets out of hand but they have failed in this regard and it’s hard to say if it’s because they share the general attitude to Indians. It’s a shame because not all Seychellois think this way.
We are not perfect as a society. Seychellois make excellent artisanal fishermen and skilled mechanics. However there are gaps where the Indian community complement us and in doing that, they form an integral part. They do the jobs that we don’t want and they take a burden off us. Retail industry is hard work with long hours, and many in construction left their homes to build ours. And whatever little they earn and send back to their families, it is far less than hotels remitting profits overseas to their foreign shareholders. Should we ask them also to leave?
If we want only Europeans and Caucasians on our shores, one may ask, are any of their countries assisting us right now? In a globalised world, we rely on our regional partners. How we treat people of different race and migrant workers reflect on our individual character and it reflects on our country’s reputation. Look how China has treated the Africans. How would we feel if our Seychellois students studying in universities abroad were racially abused? Then stop for a minute and think, how do the Indians feel when we talk about them this way?
We have shown our true colours with this COVID crisis with our racial bias. And now our children have seen this, our grandchildren have heard it.
The danger is that we are openly passing on our hatred and intolerance to the next generation of Seychellois. Seychelles is a rainbow nation – people are a mix of all races and ethnicities. We are a small nation. We need manpower to move forward. We need tourists from all nations to survive. We need to be a more inclusive and kinder society to move forward. Ethnic divide, hatred, intolerance, bigotry will leave us behind.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Seychelles NATION newspaper.