The Seychelles may be known for its natural beauty, but the Seychellois people and their unique fusion of diverse cultures play a major role in making the archipelago the vibrant place that it is. So what can you expect when you visit? Here’s a quick guide to what you need to know about the people, the cuisine and the local culture:
The Seychellois are very laid back and easygoing people – as you would expect from anyone who lives “the land of perpetual summer”. With a population of about 90 000, the vast majority of Seychellois people are of Creole descent. Since the islands were first discovered, different people from around the world have settled here for various reasons – including people with French, Indian, English, Chinese, Arab and, of course, Pan-African heritage.
Each cultural group has had its own unique influence on the island with their different traditions and customs. The Seychellois people are known for being exceptionally friendly and hospitable. The three official languages are Creole, English and French.
The local cuisine reflects the diverse heritage of the people – with a delicious blend of French, Indian, Chinese and African flavours. Curry and rice are the staple foods and fish and meat are always on the menu. You can expect creative combinations of spices and liberal use of coconut milk and fresh island ingredients such as spinach, aubergine, golden apple and papaya.
Favourite local dishes you need to try include cari bernique (curried limpet), octopus curry, salted pork curry, Chatini Seychellois (chutney with chillies, ginger and garlic often served with fried fish), Kat-Kat banana (banana cooked in coconut milk), palm hearts and papaya salad. Locally made Takamaka rum is also a must.
The diverse heritage of the Seychellois people has deeply influenced local music, dance, architecture and art.
Music and dance are particularly important aspects of island life. Music has both African and European influence and is predominantly played on percussion instruments – especially drums and rattles – and stringed instruments like the guitar and stringed bows.
Popular traditional dances and music styles on the islands are the Sega and Moutia (also known as Moutya) which both originated among slaves in the area. The Sega involves the dancer’s feet not leaving the ground while the rest of the body moves rhythmically to the beat of simple instruments (often accompanied by lyrics about oppression and freedom). In the Moutia, dancers move freely with more suggestive movements as the tempo increases.
Music and dance are key to social gatherings and the locals are known to wear bright, colourful traditional outfits – often adorned with flowers. When the occasion doesn’t call for traditional outfits, the dress code on the island is as laid back as the people, and formal clothes are rarely worn.
Every year, in October, the week-long Festival Kreol on Mahé is the best, most vibrant and colourful showcase of Seychellois culture. This year’s festival will take place from 23 – 29 October. As if you needed any more reason to start planning your trip ????