‘Renaissance’, the rejuvenation of Peter Boniface’s musical Bones |11 March 2023
After most of his songs were banned on national radio during the one-party state era, the new generation will finally get the feel of the artistic work of local 80’s sensation Peter Boniface who is back with a much-awaited album, a rejuvenation of the artist’s musical inspiration, as well as a gift for loyal fans who have been deprived of the well-loved patriotic and conscious lyrics, promoting peace and unity, along with well harmonised melodies.
Renaissance, meaning a revival of or renewed interest in something, is the title of the new album released earlier this week by Peter Boniface, affectionately known as Bones.
In contrast to the common meaning of Renaissance, Bones simply portrays it as “a new belief system that is expected to rise in Seychelles in the near future to bring about a new energy and a new light of hope to all the people who are today suffering in the darkness of despair.”
Lawyer, hypnotherapist, fitness trainer and writer, Bones explains that he initially used his music which promotes peace and unity to challenge the system in place back in the days, precisely upon his return from studying law in England in 1979.
He said he was shocked to see the level of fear and violence in the country, compared to the united community, filled with respect and joie de vivre in which he grew up, before leaving to pursue his studies overseas.
Unluckily for him, he was seen as an enemy of the regime for thinking differently, with most of his songs banned on national radio.
Looking for other avenues and means to spread the message of love and unity, Bones and other friends started a charity group to help children, but were told they were not allowed to since it was considered a political activity.
He also wanted to open a newspaper to motivate the youth, but was denied in 1980 by James Michel who was the minister responsible for information at that time, telling him that he was trying to instigate demonstration amongst the youth.
He re-applied in 1985, and was again denied permission.
During that time, Bones sang regularly at night in several hotels, before being banned, following orders from the government, while also releasing five albums of songs that became very popular in Seychelles.
Many of his songs talked about the fears and sufferings of his people under the one-party Marxist regime that was ruling Seychelles at that time.
His message was always one of peace and unity and the hope that someday, the Seychellois people would finally find the freedom and justice that they were yearning for.
At 27, after seven years of harassment and arrests by government forces, Bones was finally detained for six months in solitary confinement, without trial.
Other than his songs being banned on national TV and radio, his property was acquired, despite his objections.
After his release, Bones refused to leave Seychelles, even though he was formally asked to.
However, a year later, after receiving serious death threats, he was finally forced to take his family into exile in London where he has been living since.
Bones explained that while still in Seychelles, he helped a lot of people who had health problems on a voluntary basis, especially healing many mental cases related to witchcraft, using his skills in hypnosis, while never oncecharginganyone for these services.
Such skills created sort of a local ‘myth’ around Bones, with gossips stating that he possessed special powers, allowing him to be protected from all evil happenings at that time.
According to him, he just used the power of good over evil.
Back on the local music scene
It was in 2013, after over 20 years in exile that Bones returned to Seychelles for the first time, on a solo mission.
In a series of meetings and articles andeven a public speech, he predicted that the old regime would be defeated in the coming elections, even though most people at that time believed that this was impossible.
In 2015 and 2016, he released his first comeback albums since he left Seychelles in his twenties.These two new albums, ‘Nouvo Laz’ and ‘Viktwar’(New Age and Victory), contained only songs of freedom and unity which celebrated and predicted the defeat of the old regime in the coming elections.
He made thousands of copies of both albums and gave them out for free in rallies.
In the 2016 and 2020 elections thatfollowed, the old regime was finally wiped out of power, after 43 years of its“corrupt and oppressive rule in Seychelles.”
Once again, gossips had it that Bones used his special powers to influence the elections results, something which is more or less hilarious, since it was obvious from the beginning that the whole nation was eager for a change.
Special powers, or not, we will leave that between Bones and his maker.
Bones the sportsman
Other than being a lawman, artist and healer, Bones also has a successful sports background, having been active from a young age.
At 16, Bones was a champion sportsman whoheld the former Seychelles College athletics records in 800m and 1500m and also played on the basketball national team, while playing a big role in promoting basketball in Seychelles by launching many new teams and coaching them to success. These include the famous PLS Hawks.
He later competed in boxing, judoand taekwondo for Kent University in England, where he went on to study law.
After his graduation, he became one of the first pioneers to start judo in Seychelles.
Bones later qualified as a fitness trainer in London.
'Ti Tonton' Bruce
Following the release of the song ‘Sweet little child’ alongside the video clip featuring his son Bruce Boniface who was still a child at that time, Bones was asked about ‘Ti Tonton Bruce’ by everyone wherever he went.
The song really captured the heart of the whole nation with its deeply emotional lyrics.
Little do they know that Bruce is no longer little ‘Ti Tonton Bruce’, but rather a super star who in 2002, at 19 years old, got into the British Charts and even made it to number one in the British RnB Charts with his song entitled ‘Cheeky’. He is the first and only Seychellois to ever achieve this feat.
In 2006, a song he wrote entitled ‘Lie about us’ topped the US Chart.
Bruce and his father have always kept a very close bond which seems more like brothers, rather than father and son.
Bruce sang his first live song – Viv lanmizik –on the then Radio Television Seychelles (RTS) at three years old, before having a very funny interview with Nan Mathiot that day.
During that period, Bones was singing solo regularly in all big hotels on the island, including Mahe Beach, Barbarons, Coral Strand, Beau Vallon Beach Hotel, Fisherman's Cove, Northolme, and Auberge at Bel Ombre, and everywhere he went, he brought Bruce along to sing a few songs.
The new ‘Renaissance’ album
The new album features two compact discs featuring the re-mastered versions of Bones’ old songs from the 80s, along with new compositions, including tracks from the two political albums.
Popular tracks of the 80s include ‘O Repiblik’, ‘Ki wa fer li’, ‘Mon gitar’, ‘Sant pour laliberte’, and also the sensational ‘Sweet little child’ whose video clip features Bones and his son Bruce as a child.
‘Sweet little child’ which is regarded as sweet and harmless is probably the only tune from Bones known to the new generation, since it was the only track played on the radio, based on its content.
As for the new tracks, they are in the likes of ‘Lasenn lanmour’, ‘House of memories’, and ‘Hold you’.
Among the tracks is ’Dife Heroin’ which reflects perfectly the country’s actual situation whereby heroin is infesting the youth, creating a very negative impact on the economy, as well as itsimage internationally.
The album has been recorded and produced by the late Peter Jules.
For the project, Bones would like to thank a number of people, including his girlfriend Jane Lege, his children Bruce, Shane and Tamara Boniface, his kids’ mum Cecile Larue, his sister Rose-Mary Cobian, as well as all the loyal fans for their love, inspiring energy, moral support and encouragement throughout the years.