Seychellois Creole

Creole is a word used in the Seychelles to refer to those native to the country of whichever ancestry.

The majority of people living in the Seychelles are Creole. They are principally of African and Malagasy origin. However, the Creole people today also include people of mixed African, Malagasy, Indian, Chinese, French and British origins.

Africans and Malagasy were brought as slaves to work on sugar and coffee plantations. These slaves were the last to be introduced to the Indian Ocean. Their origins lie in East Africa, and, to a lesser extent, Madagascar.

Today Creoles are found throughout the Seychelles, numbering roughly 76,000; more than 70% of the entire Seychellois population. They are the dominant group in Politics. Seychellois Creoles are proud of their African/Malagasy heritage and have set up a Creole institute in Mahé to help promote and to help others understand their culture. Unlike Mauritius, where Creole has no official status, the Seychelles have made Creole one of the three official languages along with French and English. Creole developed from the French dialects of the original settlers. Its vocabulary is mostly French, with a few Malagasy, Bantu, English, and Hindi words. Most Seychellois can speak and understand French. Most younger Seychellois read English, the language of government and commerce. French is the language of the Roman Catholic Church in the Seychelles Islands.

Almost all the inhabitants of Seychelles are Christian. More than 90 percent are Roman Catholic. Sunday masses are well attended. Religious holidays are celebrated as religious and social events. Like other Africans, many Seychellois Christians still follow traditional religious practices. These may include magic, witchcraft, and sorcery. It is common to consult a local fortune-teller known as a bonhomme de bois or a bonne femme de bois. Charms known as gris-gris are used to harm one's enemies.

Traditional houses rise on stilts above the ground. The main room is used for eating and sleeping. The kitchen is separate to maintain cleanliness. Woven coconut leaves make naturally cool walls and roofs. However, galvanized iron is gradually replacing them for roofing. Mothers are dominant in the household. They control most daily expenses and look after the children. Family size is relatively small by African standards.

The Seychellois Creole cuisine combines a wide variety of cooking styles, including English, French, Chinese, and Indian. Creole cooking is rich, hot, and spicy. It blends fruit, fish, fresh vegetables, and spices. Basic ingredients include pork, chicken, fish, octopus, and shellfish. Coconut milk makes a good sauce for seafood meals. Fish is served in many ways: grilled on firewood, curried, in boullions or soups, and as steak. Turtle meat is called "Seychelles beef." People also enjoy salads and fruit desserts of mango, papaya, breadfruit, and pineapple. Locally made alcoholic beverages include palm wine (calou). Bacca is a powerful sugarcane liquor drunk on ceremonial occasions.

The Seychellois music genre of Sega is known as Moutia. African, European, and Asian influences are present in Seychellois music, dance, literature, and visual art. African rhythms are apparent in the moutia and séga dances. The sokoué dance resembles masked African dancing. Dancers portray birds, animals, and trees. The contredanse is a French import, with origins in the court of King Louis XIV (1638–1715). Traditionally, Seychellois performed their music on drums, violins, accordions, and the triangle. Nowadays, the acoustic guitar is usually used as well. Two young performers, Patrick Victor and David Filoé, have adapted the traditional moutia and séga dances in a modern setting. Seychelles' most celebrated poet is Antoine Abe.

Accomplished storytellers and singers pass on Seychellois culture and social customs through fables, songs, and proverbs. Storytelling is at the center of the traditional moutia performance. The moutia began during the days of slavery. Two men told stories about the hard labors of the day. Women then joined in to dance, accompanied by singing and chanting. Modern performances still involve dancing to typical African rhythms. Performers often use satire to entertain and teach people of all ages.

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