Discrimination becoming a real issue in Seychelles
One of our greatest pride as a nation is our racial harmony and the dignity of being
Seychellois with no regard to colour,creed, gender, etc. This harmony that defines our nationality must neither be taken for granted nor allowed to be challenged in any way.
For some time I had been reading about, and hearing of.incidences where Seychellois were not allowed entrance to public areas in certain hotels. I had dismissed these incidences as exaggerations or misunderstandings. Last night, however, this happened near home and it has left me with a feeling of great sadness and anger. Before I go further, I would like to say that I agree that it is the perogative of establishments to ensure that visitors are bona fide and behave in a manner that is circumspect without causing any embarrassment to the other clients.
In the evening of 19th June, my son took a visiting relative to the Coral Strand Hotel at Beau Vallon. Both of them were well dressed, sober (my son rarely takes alcohol) and in a good frame of mind. He said when he got to the hotel there were four Europeans in front of them and the oriental-looking security man greeted those Europeans affably. When my son and his friend made way to enter the hotel the security guard told him that he could not go in but would give no reason for this. As my son was trying to reason with him indicating that this was his late father’s watering hole and that as a child he had spent many leisure moments at the old Coral Strand, a Seychellois ‘spectator’ shouted: “zot pa pou les ou entre akoz kouler ou lapo”! In fact the only thing that distinguished my son from the four Europeans was indeed the colour of his skin!
My son returned home almost apoplectic saying that he had never been so humiliated and insulted in his life. I decided to call the hotel and asked to speak to the General Manager. After interminable calls and being questioned by a number of foreign-sounding staff, and after having to present an accolade of my past titles, I was allowed to speak to the Deputy General Manager who expressed regret that this had happened and he assured me that discriminating against Seychellois was not a policy of the hotel. I told him of the various writings and reports I had seen and heard about and given the situation I would stilllike to know the reason why entry was denied. He said that the security guard had been able to identify the four Europeans as clients but did not know my son. I told him that my son was certainly a homo sapiens and that the only difference from that point of view was his skinpigmentation! Besides, I do not believe that a security guard would arbitrarily take such a drastic decision that was not covered by one dictum or another.I find this very difficult to accept and a very worrying trend indeed.
I have taken the decision to write this letter because I am part of the generation who suffered under the scourge of colonialism where we were second class citizens in our own land. In 1971, I was turned away from the former Seychelles Club as a luncheon guest of the first British Airways Manager because “her colour is not welcomed here”! I took my humiliation to Albert Rene who told me that “one day things will change” and change it did. The Seychellois reclaimed their land and harmony reigned to the admiration of all our visitors and tourists. I therefore find it hard to accept that in the year 2013, and justone day after our President in is National Day address, implored both foreigners and Seychellois to continue to live with mutual respect, that history would repeat itself. Before I wrote this letter, I have spoken to a number of people, including community leaders and those in the present-day echelons of Government and they all agree that such discriminations are in fact happening and yet everyone seems helpless to do anything about it. Well, we should get our heads out of the proverbial sand and stamp out this ugly malaise. If we do not,we would be doing a disservice to our children and would be casting futility on the wonderful job my, and my parents’ generations have done to enhance the beauty of our lives in our paradise on earth.
I write this with no fear or malice but for the love of my country, my fellow Seychellois
and our children.
SOURCE: TODAY IN SEYCHELLES