Harmony in multi-ethnic Seychelles is threatened | 06 July 2019
Scholars of ethnicity will tell you that a balance of races of people living together is required to ensure peace and harmony prevails in a country. As soon as this balance swings in the direction of one group of nationals living next door to each other, problems begin; the dominant group start to feel high and mighty and the smaller groups feel threatened so they start to attack each other first verbally then physically.
In August 1972 Idi Amin, the President of Uganda at the time, gave the South Asian minority group, comprising mainly of Gujarat immigrants 90 days to leave Uganda and it is believed 27,000 went to UK, 6,000 to Canada, 4,500 went back to India and Kenya, next door, absorbed 2,500 of them. In the process they lost their businesses, farms and other belongings they had worked hard to accumulate. This was the most inhuman treatment of any group of people in Africa, besides the genocide of Rwanda. All because Idi Amin and his government were being pressured by the indigenous Ugandans who feared the Indians were taking over because Indians were in control of the food chain, they owned and were very active in Import/Export businesses, banking, schools and they were nicked named “dukawallas”.
The British got blamed because they provided a good education system which catapulted the Indians, who took advantage and educated themselves to become the echelon of Uganda’s society, rubbing shoulders and gaining favours from the government officials in return for gifts and money. This fear that the Indians were taking over Uganda resulted in the unfair and unacceptable expulsions, which several countries in Europe had experienced like the Jews in Germany and the Croats in the Bosnia and Herzegovina War, lest we should forget events of history.
In Seychelles we have seen the rise of the Indian community go beyond what we have been used to when we were all Seychellois living and marrying each other regardless of the origin of our parents. Love bloomed regardless of the colour of our skin and we created children with varying skin colour and colour of eyes in a multi-ethnic society whose origin were from Africa, Europe, China, Arabia and other countries. The old folks traded with each other and helped each other and we lived and died as the indigenous people of Seychelles which we proudly called ourselves Seychellois. The mix was so strong that we adopted 3 languages as our national languages so that we could keep our authenticity as we carved a living on these rocks which are the remains of Gondwanaland.
Then the transition to selfishness began when Indians started to acquire every corner shop which by the way happened in England too because the English people preferred to go home after 5pm and watch Coronation Street on TV rather than man a corner shop. Non obstante (notwithstanding), Indians have not taken over England as a consequence and by the way the Chinese took over all the Fish & Chips shops and presto you could buy Fish and Chips and Chinese food from the local shop. There was not one iota of discord in the community because people felt that they had gained rather than lost their identity. Seychelles has been predominantly Catholic because our European conquerors brought their religion here and today we are 76% Catholics, 6% Anglicans, 2.4% Hinduism, 1.6% Islam and the rest are the Baha’i Faith and other religions according to the 2010 government population survey and yet we have enjoyed each other’s religious ceremonies in our streets and the Hindu Temple in Victoria is today a beautiful landmark for tourism.
In 2019 this balance of ethnic co-existence is about to blow up in our face if we do not address the imbalance and the government must recognise that there is a danger on the horizon and while past government officials have enjoyed huge political contributions from the Indian community they must now address this imbalance in trade and people’s feelings and what people are saying. We have seen cartels being formed while our various agencies like the Fair Trading Commission sit on their laurels and do nothing about it, to the extent that Shark’s ice creams, made by a Seychellois company, that used to be sold in every corner shop has been displaced by Arun ice creams made by an Indian company. Even bottled water in every Indian corner shop is Indian made only. This is what is getting people angry and the government and the Indian Association cannot let this situation of unfair trading continue, because this is unlawful and violates Consumer Trading Laws and this could become an explosive situation for our community.
What is the Ministry of Employment doing?
The Ministry of Employment, in its wisdom, have decided to grant “group GOPs” to the construction industry because they cannot be bothered to vet each application individually like they used to in the old days. This is a grave mistake and it is killing off jobs in the shops that used to be staffed by Seychellois women who have children to feed. Today you walk into any Indian owned shop and you will not find one Seychellois woman serving. They have been displaced by young Indians who cannot speak English, (although we do not expect them to speak Creole) and we have to use sign language or head movements to indicate our intentions. What the hell is going on and how have we allowed this situation to develop? In addition to shopkeepers, security guards, refuge collection, PUC employees, even the guys putting up flags on the lamp posts for celebrations are now Indian nationals. What’s the matter, Seychellois cannot climb the lamp post anymore? Come on, remove your blinkers my friend, the precipice is ahead of you.
Our ministers and perhaps even our Presidents past, present and future should research into “Polyethnicity”. In Seychelles we have practiced polyethnicity to the limit for 200 years, we have exercised control over immigration, we have shared job opportunities, we have engaged in a balance of trade and we have respected each other’s religions and cultures but the sudden influx of workers from the Indian Sub-Continent is upsetting the balance. We, the Seychellois nation, have displayed the highest level of homogeneity and we have taught our children the advantages of similitude, sharing one fruit or one sweet from mouth to mouth on the way home from school, no worries about germs or someone else’s saliva, skin colour or hair texture, they are more concerned with what’s for dinner at home.
Failure by this government to keep our Seychellois identity
This government has failed the people on the social level despite being in power for over 40 years and changing its name as often as a snake changes its skin to avoid detection. When James Michel signed a secret deal with Narendra Modi, India’s Prime Minister, over Assomption Island, we were betrayed. Then followed other cover ups and dealings behind the people’s back by other leaders. It therefore beggars belief whether we can trust this government anymore? Is it an act of treason when someone pledges our sovereignty without our knowledge and consent? Is it treasonous for anyone to assist in disposing of our sovereignty behind our back? Our people are asking why India is giving us gifts when 21.2 % of India’s population live below the poverty line and why India is building our court house free of charge when people in Delhi live in squalor where raw sewage runs past their chanty huts. China's poverty rate fell from 88 percent in 1981 to 0.7 percent in 2015. Have India got its priority right and we as proud Seychellois with 40% of our own population living below the poverty line, should we not be saying to India “thank you but no thanks please use the money you are giving to us to feed your people”.
The lie and misconception of the Century
The Seychellois people are told that India is trying to provide us with military security. So who wants to invade Seychelles? For that matter who wants to invade India and feed a population of 1.2 billion people? China certainly has no intention of invading India, they have 1.3 billion people to feed and Donald Trump is giving them the treatment Obama failed to deliver. We are told we need marine security from drug traffickers who originate from Mogadishu and dump their illegal drugs in Seychelles. But excuse me have you looked at the co-ordinates on a map of Seychelles in relation to Mogadishu? Mogadishu co-ordinates are 2.046° N and 45.382° E and Assomption Island is 9.7368° S and 46.5114° E meaning that Assomption is in the South of Seychelles whereas Mogadishu is in the North of Seychelles. Who is the clever boy then, who would place his guns and warships in the South when drugs are coming from the North? Excuse us, please give us the military strategist’s point of view of the tactical advantage India has over drugs coming from Mogadishu with a military base on Assomption? Are we so stupid that we do not understand that India wants Assomption to guard the trade route for its oil supply coming from the Middle East, the stock of which is only 9 days, arriving by ships, to be consumed by 1.2 billion people when compared to the Middle East, China and even America,which today they are oil sufficient for their consumption?
The Seychellois ethnic communities exist in a primordial existence of hereditary and congenital way of life where you can eat Kreol food, Chinese food, Indian food, European food in one gathering and healthy religious activities are welcomed and all this is being shattered by the influx of unnecessary Indian nationals and the cartels in trade by the new Indians who have no respect for our culture. We welcome foreigners with open arms and we need foreigners to help us build and move Seychelles forward but what we will not accept is a take-over. Those responsible had better do something to maintain balance, because we like our peaceful way of life inherited from our multi-ethnic origins. We are Seychellois.
Barry Laine FCIM, FInst SMM, MCMI, MBSCH
Seychelles Civil Society
P O Box 1336 Victoria
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Seychelles NATION newspaper.