President James Michel

the torch of freedom

We learned of the passing away of former South African President Nelson Mandela, a political activist and philanthropist well-known for his belief he has propagated throughout the world; a belief that black and white people are one and the same in the eyes of God, and should be the same in the eyes of men.

At his funeral, world leaders, put their differences aside to pay their last respect. Just the same, the world has known great thinkers, inventors and many people have left their footprints. Seychelles may be a small country, often described by insensitive people as a dot on the map, but there is one thing the world must know about these islands; it possesses human beings who were born to be different to others; they were born with different missions in life.

Seychelles former and present Presidents will both leave behind not only ideas but thanks to them a country has been born and a people recognised. Mr. René has saved these islands and similarly has saved the people of these islands. Without René and SPUP, our country would have had another type of people – most probably the offspring of the rich landowners and their colonial masters. The ‘real’ Seychellois were already dying in poverty.
 
On 12 November 1962, somewhere in a backstreet of London, a group of Seychellois met to listen to the views and ideas of Mr. France Albert René. It was then that Mr. René explained about the necessity to break away from colonial domination before any real progress could be achieved for the country and its people. “We want,” he said, “an all-Seychellois Government, voted for freely by all Seychellois for the mutual benefit of all Seychellois.”

It was at this meeting that the Seychelles People’s United Party (SPUP) was born. In June 1964, Mr. René returned to his country after an absence of two years and five months, during which he had devoted his time to the study of economics, constitutional and economic development of countries similar to Seychelles.
His close connection with the Movement for Colonial Freedom and the British Labour Party gave him the chance to study practical politics. He said after that: “From 1961 to 1963, while I was in England, I took part in a lot of political discussions with parties of all ideologies, sizes and beliefs.”
With his arrival back in Seychelles, came the SPUP, to be given a rather cool reception by those groups of people whose vested interests were, so they believed, in jeopardy. On the other hand his return brought comfort to many people. In Seychelles, a few Seychellois had started the S.I.U.P (Seychelles Islanders United Party) that merged with SPUP to become one political movement.

“The Seychelles People’s United Party itself was launched on Seychelles’ soil in June 1964.
Some of you will remember how some of us used to sit in a  small office on Albert Street and how young students going to school every morning and coming back every evening used to be paid by certain people to put their heads through the door of the office and shout “nou pa oule”.
For three to four months, mornings and nights, hordes  of schoolchildren used to come at about 7 to 8 o’clock in the morning and 3 to 4 o’clock in the evening and do exactly that.

This did not deter those of us who believed that we were fighting, in fact, for those very kids, who through lack of proper education and understanding, through bad guidance from their parents, were, shouting words which they themselves did not understand. We persisted for many years and struggled in order to make the people understand what we were talking about.

It took many years because soon after the formation of the Party in 1964 some other people got together and decided that they had to establish a party to oppose what we were trying to do,” Mr. René said.

Born of poor parents, educated in Seychelles, Switzerland and England thanks to the charity of others, Mr. René had one great ambition which could easily boiled to this – the children of the future must never know poverty and want. They must be educated to work hard in the knowledge that they are working for their country.

They must feel proud to be Seychellois; they must have no discrimination and live in a spirit of brotherhood and equality.
Born on 16 November 1935, Mr. René comes from a modest family. His mother was a simple housewife and his father was an administrator on Farquhar. Mr. René received his primary and part of his secondary education at the Saint Louis College of the Marist Brothers in Victoria. Intelligent and full of courage, he undertook further studies, thanks to his mother, at the new Seychelles College, where, as he still remembers: “Most of the other students came from well-off if not wealthy families and I could not even afford to buy a pair of shoes”.
In 1953, at the age of 18, France Albert René left for the Canton de Valais in Switzerland. He was enrolled at the Scolasticat de Saint Maurice where he started studying theology. But a few months later, having a preference for law, he gave up those studies.

In 1954, he therefore went to England and was admitted to St. Mary’s College in Southampton and then to King’s College, University of London. There, France Albert René distinguished himself by an outstanding capacity for work because in the same year, 1954, he entered the Middle Temple.
In 1956, he was on the Council of Legal Education. Even though he worked during the day to meet his needs, he obtained his lawyer’s diploma in 1957. As his rapid success had revived his thirst for knowledge, he began studying political science, which he discontinued sometime later to return to Seychelles in 1958.
When he returned to Seychelles, France Albert Rene worked as a lawyer for three years. At the same time he observed the Seychellois society, his own society.
In December 1961 he went back to England where he resumed his studies in political science to prepare for a degree in economics at the London School of Economics and Political Science. But already his student life was dominated by his militancy.

They must feel proud to be Seychellois; they must have no discrimination and live in a spirit of brotherhood and equality.
Born on 16 November 1935, Mr. René comes from a modest family. His mother was a simple housewife and his father was an administrator on Farquhar. Mr. René received his primary and part of his secondary education at the Saint Louis College of the Marist Brothers in Victoria. Intelligent and full of courage, he undertook further studies, thanks to his mother, at the new Seychelles College, where, as he still remembers: “Most of the other students came from well-off if not wealthy families and I could not even afford to buy a pair of shoes”.
 
In 1953, at the age of 18, France Albert René left for the Canton de Valais in Switzerland. He was enrolled at the Scolasticat de Saint Maurice where he started studying theology. But a few months later, having a preference for law, he gave up those studies.

In 1954, he therefore went to England and was admitted to St. Mary’s College in Southampton and then to King’s College, University of London. There, France Albert René distinguished himself by an outstanding capacity for work because in the same year, 1954, he entered the Middle Temple.

In 1956, he was on the Council of Legal Education. Even though he worked during the day to meet his needs, he obtained his lawyer’s diploma in 1957. As his rapid success had revived his thirst for knowledge, he began studying political science, which he discontinued sometime later to return to Seychelles in 1958.
When he returned to Seychelles, France Albert Rene worked as a lawyer for three years. At the same time he observed the Seychellois society, his own society.
In December 1961 he went back to England where he resumed his studies in political science to prepare for a degree in economics at the London School of Economics and Political Science. But already his student life was dominated by his militancy.