Exploring the history and experiences of mixed heritage persons and inter-racial relationships across the world
Some people would swear that the Seychelles archipelago with its 115 islands spread over 451 square kilometres (174 sq mi) of the Indian Ocean is paradise on earth. Certainly, its people, a potpourri of peoples from all corners of the globe, greatly assisted by its relatively central position in this ocean, contribute that the sense of paradise.
Nearly 1,500 kilometres east of Africa, Seychelles’ central position in such an important oceanic trade route attracted sea faring people for centuries and so it is bit of a surprise that none of the islands were inhabited earlier. Evidence of Austronesian and later Maldivian and Arab visits have been found with one of the earliest being remains from the 12th century on Silhouette Island. In 1502, Vasco da Gama, sighted the Amirantes and named them after himself (islands of the Admiral). However evidence of earlier knowledge is available in the shape of an Arabian manuscript dated AD 851 and the fact that Arabs were trading the highly valued ‘Coco de Mer’ (Sea Coconuts) nuts, found only in Seychelles which have been known to be washed ashore as far away as Indonesia.
Semi –permanent settlements of pirates may also have existed after the pirates moved from the Caribbean to set up bases in Madagascar for the richer pickings in and around the Red Sea and Persian Gulf. The French finally claimed some of the islands in 1756 when Captain Nicholas Morphey laid a Stone of Possession.
Having no indigenous population, the French imported slaves with the resultant inter-mixing that occurred in the early days of many of the colonies. Inter-racial mixing was frowned upon by the French at the time but it continued for some time. It is believed that the French based Creole language spoken in the Seychelles started to develop.
During the French Revolution (1789–1799), the settlers decided to govern themselves in 1790 but they continued to act as a safe place for French corsairs (pirates with official authority to attack enemy shipping). This did not go un-noticed and finally the British arrived with an ultimatum. The settlers surrendered, but not before negotiating themselves a ‘good deal’. The result was that the British made no effort to control the islands which retained its French characteristics. The ‘good deal’ was reinforced some seven times whenever British ships visited.
The result of the British indifference allowed a French European elite, the Gran'bla ("big whites"), to flourish on the Islands, dominating both commerce and politics. They remain a distinct and the second largest ethnic group on the islands thought there are probably many mixed race descendants of illegitimate offspringError: AWS Access Key ID: AKIAIQYDWNYNT65TSIMQ. You are submitting requests too quickly. Please retry your requests at a slower rate.