Where: Mahé, Republic of Seychelles, Indian Ocean
When: Last week of October
Activities: Learn to speak Creole, eat Creole foods, buy crafts, and experience traditional dances at the Bal Asoye
Who are the Creoles?
The people in the Indian Ocean are from African, Indian, and Chinese extraction. Their ancestors were slaves brought over to work the sugar cane, vanilla, and tea plantations. Through intermarriage and interracial relationships, Africans fused with French, Indian, and Chinese to create a set of people commonly known as Creoles.
Every year, for a week at the end of October, the people of the Republic of Seychelles pay homage to their island’s Creole heritage with Festival Kreol which takes place in multiple locations on the island of Mahé.
Mahé is the largest granite island in the Seychelles. It was claimed by a lazy Frenchman called Captain Lazare Picault in 1742. He thought that by firing off seven rounds of cannon and yelling ‘long live the King’, he’d have this lovely piece of turf. Originally, fifteen French settlers transported just seven African slaves to inhabit Mahé. When the British abolished slavery in 1833, the French and Dutch brought over indentured Indian and Chinese labourers to farm their plantations.
What Happens at Festival Kreol?
The only major non-religious festival celebrated by the predominantly Catholic population,Festival Kreol is dedicated to preserving and promoting Creole food, fashion, art, music, and dance. During the festival week, seminars and debates are organized by the Kreol Institute, who promote the Kreol-Seselwa language (Creole), which is the mother tongue of Seychellois. Classes are held where you can learn to speak Creole. Visit the Creole village in Victoria with stalls selling crafts and Creole food. The festival is both an international exchange and a promotion of indigenous arts which attracts Creole artists from around the world.
Part of the celebration week is an all-night party called the Bal Asosye, which is basically a posh ball with traditional with in an exclusive, small venue and the tickets are very expensive. It starts at 6pm and continues until 7am the next morning – with no let up. At midnight, a spicy soup of potatoes and herbs is passed around to keep everyone awake.
At Bal Asosye you will see plenty of traditional dances like:
– Kamntole – a square danse performed ‘dos a dos’.
– Moutya – the Seychelles national dance which is very frisky and always danced around campfires. Moutya is a dialogue between a man and a woman – either in the form of a fight or courtship – featuring improvised lyrics.
– Sega is the traditional Creole dance, conceived by African slaves as a diversion from the injustices of their daily existence. Sega was banned by the Catholic Church for being too ‘erotic’. The dance is all swaying hips – in fact your feet never leave the ground; this is symbolic because slaves wore shackles around their feet.
– Lakadan is performed at the festival: a spectacular sega show with a touch of moutya-mougeand moutya-maloge featuring the best known bands in the Seychelles.
Seychelles.net: Festival Kreol
Official Festival Kreol websi
By Susi O’Neill