Address of President James Alix Michel on the occasion of National Day - The 40th Anniversary Of Independence, 29th June, 2016
29 June 2016 | State House
Dear People of Seychelles,
President James Richard Mancham,
Vice-President Danny Faure,
Vice-President Joseph Belmont,
Speaker of the National Assembly,
President of the Court of Appeal,
Leader of Government Business in the National Assembly,
Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly,
His Excellency the Secretary General of the Indian Ocean Commission
Your Excellencies Heads of Diplomatic Missions and Representatives of International Organisations,
All accomplishments in the life of a person, in the life of a nation, begins with a vision.
Over 40 years ago, a group of Seychellois had a vision for Seychelles. A vision of freedom and independence. A vision of social justice, universal education, health for all citizens, decent housing, pensions – a vision of wealth distribution. A vision of emancipation. A Seychelles where national unity, harmony, peace and solidarity reign.
This same group of people were determined to bring Seychelles far, towards a new destiny. They dared to dream, and they had a firm conviction in the capacity of the Seychellois people to transform our country. They were determined to bring Seychelles towards its Independence.
Their vision became a reality 40 years ago. Their determination and conviction bore fruit on that day, that night, when our small Seychelles became a nation, sovereign and free.
I recall very well – as do thousands of Seychellois – that historic event, that moment of hope and joy. Those who witnessed the birth of the new Republic remember very well when our new flag was hoisted gently, with pride, at midnight on the 29th of June 1976. On that day, we Seychellois took our destiny into our own hands, conscious of the challenges ahead, but determined to overcome them and to succeed in the future.
His Excellency the Secretary General of the Indian Ocean Commission,
Your Excellencies the Heads and Representatives of Diplomatic Missions and International Organisations,
The celebration of our 40th anniversary as a sovereign Republic is the occasion for me to thank you all, on behalf of the Government and people of Seychelles, for your steadfast support and cooperation over all those years. They have contributed significantly to our development and progress, and have helped to transform our country into what it is today. A modern, democratic nation, proud of its achievements and ready to face the challenges of the future. My call to you today, on this solemn occasion, is to strengthen our partnership in the years ahead. Stay with us and help us to consolidate and build upon our achievements. Stay with us and help us to preserve and strengthen the peace, the stability and the unity of our country. I thank you and the people of Seychelles thank you, too, knowing that we can always count on your support.
Last, but not least, it gives me great pleasure to extend my gratitude to those countries, notably, China, France, India, Mauritius and the United Kingdom, which are participating in our parade and related activities. Thank you all.
I would like to take the opportunity to sincerely thank all the organisers and participants – especially our Seychellois in uniform – in the various activities commemorating this historic event, the 40th anniversary of our Independence. The entire Seychellois nation is grateful to you for your hard work, your commitment and your patriotism. Thank you all.
Dear People of Seychelles
Today, we celebrate with joy and dignity this great event in our history. Today we celebrate the 40 years of our existence as the Republic of Seychelles.
It is an occasion to salute the great architects of our nation. We thank them all – those who are still with us, as well as those who have departed. We pay tribute to them all. Our special thanks go to President France Albert Rene and to President James Richard Mancham, the two distinguished personalities in the history of Seychelles.
Our path to Independence was filled with obstacles. Different camps. Not everyone had that conviction in the capacity of a free and sovereign Seychellois people. There were those who wanted Independence, and those who opposed it. In that struggle, fortunately, it was our national unity that was the great victor. Finally, we were able to follow that long road, in unity , in peace, and towards success that awaited us.
Today, our National Day – the anniversary of our Independence – is also a commemoration of our national unity. As President, I still have the same message. The same conviction that has always motivated me. The same passion that has always inspired me. It is the unity of our people, and peace in our country. I am passionate in my work for unity and peace. I believe that as a small country, and a country in rapid development, subject to the turbulence of world currents, we have no other option. Despite the diversity of our opinions, despite the diversity in our points of view, we must work together. Finally, it is only unity and working together which can bring Seychelles forward. It has been our national unity, and working together, working hard together, which has enabled to progress this far. But if we abandon this, if we get derailed from this path, we will not get far. Worse still, we shall enter a period of self-destruction, anarchy and violence. That's when we shall see, and we shall understand, the true meaning of abject poverty. We have enough examples of places where this is happening in this sadly divided world. Is this the kind of tragedy that we want for our country? Is this the kind of pain that we want to inflict on our own Seychellois brothers and sisters? No! And a thousand times, No! We Seychellois, we do not want division. We do not want violence. We do not want the destruction of our country. We do not want poverty. We do not want threats hanging over us, over our future and the future of our children.
I say to all Seychellois today: we want to live in peace. We must live in peace.
I say to you: we want happiness, progress and prosperity for all Seychellois
I say to you: today, the child who is born in Seychelles has all the opportunities to become whatever she or he wants to be. We have to support our children, give them love, show them good examples. Teach them our moral and spiritual values. Teach them values of patriotism and national unity.
I say to you, I say to all Seychellois, we want peace, stability and unity in our country.
I say to you: when we don’t agree on something, there are ways, structures and institutions through which to address our differences. And we must respect those structures and institutions. They represent the Seychellois State. And we must respect divergence of opinion. It contributes to our diversity in peace. It is a measure of our maturity.
So, I take this opportunity, to appeal to the conscience of the Seychellois people. Understand this well, there is no other way but to work together, come together, if we want our country to develop and prosper.
Today is also the occasion for us to celebrate our freedom as a people, the freedom to live freely in a sovereign and independent country. Today, as our democracy evolves, our freedom is protected by our Constitution.
We have room for greater engagement and participation of our citizens. We have freedom of religion, we have press freedom, we have the freedom of belonging to whichever political party we want, and we have freedom of expression.
However, those gatherings and demonstrations where highly offensive language is used against institutions such as the Judiciary, is a direct abuse of that same freedom which we have an obligation to protect, and it runs contrary to respect for independent institutions that are there to protect our rights.
As Head of State, my appeal is for us to beware of sowing hatred to reap hatred. We do not sow vengeance to reap vengeance. Let the maturity, tolerance and solidarity of our people continue to inspire us, to sow love so that we reap love.
Each one of us has a dream for Seychelles. We have a dream for a better tomorrow. In order to realise our dream, it is most important that peace, unity and stability reign throughout our country.
We who are older, we who were part of the struggle together, we know this very well. Tonight, my message is for this generation which is in the making, this generation which is in the waking. Let peace, unity, love and respect become part of your lives so that the future of Seychelles is bright and promising.
As the elected President of the Republic of Seychelles, here is my appeal: Unity, respect, tolerance, solidarity, compassion, work together, make Seychelles move forward.
Everyone who calls in Seychelles is struck by the level of progress we have made, where we have reached. All this did not happen by chance. It has come about through a vision, with sacrifice and hard work to realise the vision. We persevered, we made it together.
For a small country – with practically no resources other than our people, our intelligence, resilience, courage and determination, not forgetting the natural beauty of our country and the ocean around it – we have achieved much in these 40 years. And we can be proud of our accomplishments when we compare where we were 40 years ago, and where we are today.
Yes, we have achieved much together. There are some who have a tendency to forget this. To forget all the work we have done together. All the sacrifices. And today, as we mark our 40th anniversary as a Republic, as a mature people, it is the right moment to cast a glance at the actual state of our nation. It is the right time to appreciate our accomplishments as a people. And even more important, is to build on these accomplishments. We can do it – and much more – provided we remain united. Otherwise posterity will judge us severely.
We are well here in Seychelles. Even very well! The progress we have made since Independence is undeniable. I have spoken about this many times. And I will continue to talk about it. So that we all remember. So that no one forgets.
The small nation of Seychellois have achieved much in 40 years. This young Seychellois nation has reached far in its history, a history much shorter than that of other nations.
Despite increasingly complex world, where there are so many challenges, we can continue to progress – if we remain united, if we work together. If we can bring forward different points of view, different ideas, discuss, harmonise, decide, and build the road ahead together.
But not if we are divided. The progress we have made in 40 years is something that elsewhere people are still only dreaming of. It is a monumental task. It is easy for some to say that they do not like our system, we'll demolish it and rebuild. But, dear Seychellois brothers and sisters, the reality is very different. If we were all to take a moment to reflect, deep in our hearts, we know this.
Dear People of Seychelles
After you elected me for a third and final mandate, I said that it was democracy that was the winner in this great exercise where Seychellois were called upon to choose their President for the next five years. I stressed that it was the Seychellois people that had won. The people will always be the winners. Because we believe in democracy. We believe in the future of Seychelles. We believe in our children.
I also gave a series of commitments in my inaugural address, on 20th December 2015. I have kept my word, and will always do so – for as long as I have the courage to do it.
I take this opportunity to thank you for your support and for your encouragement. And I salute you all fraternally. I salute a people who have confronted challenges and overcome them in difficult times. A people who know and appreciate the value of freedom, justice and democracy. A people who believe in national unity and stability. A people who reject hate, violence, disharmony and division. I salute this brave people, open to the world, who welcome positive change. A people who do not let themselves be fooled or discouraged by negative tendencies.
As your President, I ask you to hold fast to the values that unite us as a nation. Hold fast, and do not let go. Never let go – our patriotism, our solidarity with one another, our harmony as a people, peace in our country, and our national unity. I ask you to always inculcate these values in our children, in all the children of Seychelles. Teach them to grow and blossom and live in harmony, joy, love and peace, as our national anthem constantly reminds us.
Dear Seychellois Brothers and Sisters
UNITY, FOREVER UNITY. That is the foundation of our nation. That is the foundation of progress which we have built. It is the base upon which we shall build and accomplish together in future.
That's what brings us together today, which brings us together in spirit wherever we may be, to say "Happy Birthday Seychelles", and to say to each other: "Together, Seychellois, Together All Seychellois!"
I wish all Seychellois, here and everywhere in the world, a Happy Independence Day!
Long live Seychelles! Long Live the People of Seychelles! Long live the Youth of Seychelles! It is you, in particular, to whom I dedicate this anniversary of our Independence and my work as President of our country.
May God continue to bless Seychelles.