Regrettably, SPUP’s late former Secretary General Guy Sinon could not be present at State House on Monday to see the fruits of his work. But through the eyes of his son Minister Peter Sinon, and some of his former friends and colleagues, including former President France Albert Rene, they could see how terribly right SPUP was when it decided in 1964 to set up a branch in Kenya.
Africa had given Seychelles land, but also provided energy in SPUP’s struggle. When the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) recognized SPUP as the only liberation movement in Seychelles, it gave a powerful boost to the country’s march to Independence. When Seychelles won nationhood in 1976, it also officially became the 49th member of the OAU.
The former President, France Albert Rene was the brain for all of this. As he lighted the flame to commemorate the Golden Jubilee of the AU, the heir of OAU, he reminded people of his hopes and dreams that inspired him in 1964.
“We start these celebrations, by remembering where we have come from”, stated Foreign Affairs Jean-Paul Adam, the son of another one of President Rene’s political playmate, former Minister Ralph Adam.
Alongside President Rene at the lighting of the AU flame, was his successor, who, in “Distant Horizon” said, “France Albert Rene gave me the opportunity to take my next step”. President James Michel has for the past seven years been writing his own rich legacy.
These people never stopped the struggle even after independence, they went on to build Seychelles, putting people centred development, and the dignity of the Seychellois at the heart of the vision, envisioned by President Rene.
“We take this opportunity to re-affirm our thanks and appreciation to President Rene for pursuing his vision – for having the courage to pursue his convictions”, said Minister Adam in his address. “Thanks to his efforts, we are convinced, and we are conscious, that we control our own destiny”, the minister remarked.
The 50th Anniversary which falls on 25th May is also an occasion for Seychelles to reflect on what still needs to be done to achieve the ideals laid out in the OAU Charter which was adopted in 1963 and re-affirmed in the AU Charter of 2002.
Minister Adam said, the 2013 United Nations Human Development Report pointed out that African nations have accelerated their development significantly in recent years and contributed to the phenomenon referred to in the report as the “rise of the South”.
“It is a good time to be in Africa in terms of economic growth. But too often economic growth that is not situated within the right development framework does not improve the lives of citizens. In Seychelles, we have never lost sight of the importance of this framework. We have continued to invest in people centred development under the leadership of President James Michel as we have emerged from the world financial crisis in 2008”, the Foreign Affairs Minister said.
Minister Adam pointed out that while Seychelles is the smallest of all African States, it has a lot to share in the continent:
- It has shown how a nation can be built out of a population of different races and beliefs;
- How protection of the environment can co-exist with economic development;
- How tourism can truly transform people’s lives in a positive way and allow the creation of maximum benefits;
- How we can define our relationship with the sea as being one which can enhance our access to development and opportunities.
Minister Adam recounted how piracy became a concern and with the help of its partners, Seychelles has turned the situation around.
“Over the next 50 years, many of Africa’s opportunities will be defined by how we harness the development potential of the ocean. This is why the “blue economy” concept is so important for us, and for Africa as a whole. The majority of world trade is by sea. The majority of the world’s oil is transported by sea. There is no food security without sustainable ocean. The majority of new mineral resources will not be found on land but in the sea. The Blue economy is our future – and it is Africa’s future”, the Minister said.
He added that Seychelles also believes that no African Country will succeed unless it can empower its young people. This is why President Michel has created the University of Seychelles. This is why we have our Young Leaders Programme. And this is why also we seek to connect our young people beyond our own borders – starting with our Indian Ocean Region”.
Minister Adam saluted all those Seychellois who have not only contributed to Seychelles independence – but to the ideal of the African Union. “President Rene, your presence here with us today bears witness to the role that Seychelles has played in creating this Union. I also salute those who have contributed in one way or another and who are no longer with us”.
Minister Adam made special mention of the late Guy Sinon, who alongside President Rene he described as a proud father of the African Union. The flame of the AU represented the determination of Seychelles to succeed. President Michel will be attending the AU Summit commemorating the Golden Jubilee.