Address by President James Alix Michel on the Inauguration of the Liberty Monument, on Independence Day, 29th June 2014

Sun, 29 June 2014 | State House

Dear People of Seychelles,

The Vice-President,

Your Excellencies

Invited guests

What is dearer, more precious, for a people, for an individual, than freedom? How much ink has flowed across the millennia for freedom?  How much tears have flowed for freedom?  How much injustice has been committed in the name of freedom?  How much blood has been shed for freedom?  How many men and women have perished in the struggle for freedom?

Nothing, and no-one, has ever prevented the march, the progress of men and women towards freedom.  It is the first aspiration of a human being.  It's in his soul, in his heart, in his mind.  It always ends up triumphing over wrong, over injustice, over hatred, over repression. It is freedom that fosters all other aspirations that we may have.  It constitutes the base of a democratic society, just and egalitarian.  A society where the rule of law prevails.

Seychelles is a land of freedom! But let us not take our freedom for granted. During the different stages of our history, Seychellois have demanded their freedom. Often their voice was stifled. Think of the time of slavery. think of the sufferings our ancestors endured. Think of the inequalities, the injustices, the colonial period. Think of all those – our forefathers – who suffered in silence. We think of them, we bow in memory of them.  In respect and admiration for their fortitude. In spite of all they had been through they never lost hope that one day they would be free. Whatever they could not realize on their own, we, who came after them, made it possible.

Our aspirations, our thirst, and struggle for freedom culminated in the independence of Seychelles. Today we celebrate 38 years since Seychelles became a free, independent and sovereign country. It is 38 years since we claimed our right to shape our own destiny. The 29th June 1976 is a date that belongs to all Seychellois. It is a unifying date. A date that brought hope. A date that symbolized the birth of the Seychellois nation. A free people.

The importance of independence day in our history, and its significance for the Seychellois people, should never be minimized or trivialized. It is a date that should be commemorated with the greatest respect, solemnity and reverence possible. And with joy.

Next year – as I have already announced – Independence Day will be celebrated as our National Day.

Dear compatriots,

We have a duty and obligation to preserve and build on our achievements of the last 38 years. The freedom which the Seychellois nation earned after a very hard struggle would have been in vain if we do not overcome divisions created needlessly by political polarization. Independence Day – I repeat – belongs to all Seychellois, without exception. On this day we put aside all our differences. It is on this day that we rededicate ourselves to the cause of the Seychellois nation, to the construction of the New Seychelles. It is on this day that the flame of national unity, patriotism, spreads it light on all Seychellois. It is the day that we stand proudly, and proclaim solemnly these words from the preamble of our Constitution: “Aware and proud that as descendants of different races we have learnt to live together as one Nation under God …”

The commemoration of independence embodies all of this and more. It represents liberty. It is a powerful symbol of national unity. We celebrate, in unity and fraternity, the strength of the links that bind us together and make us a great people. It is our national unity and our cohesion that are our strength and greatness.  They support and inspire us in our efforts to build a nation that is united, democratic, prosperous and forever free.

Dear people of Seychelles,

A people needs certain symbols to help keep alive the memories of their past, to illuminate the present, and to serve as a beacon for their future. A nation must always look at its history in order to build its future. The future is built with freedom.

Today, on the occasion of the 38th anniversary of Seychelles’ independence, we will have our own monument which evokes, in an eloquent way, our freedom. It also symbolizes the unity of our people, patriotism, hope, the march of a nation toward a future full of promises … It represents those who dedicated their lives to freedom, those who fell for freedom. It is also a tribute to our youth. It also evokes the richness and beauty of our environment, without forgetting our national symbols. But I shall let you discover and appreciate for yourselves the splendour, significance and symbolism of the monument which I shall unveil in just a few moments.

It is a fitting moment for me to express, on behalf of the Seychellois people and on my own behalf, our deep gratitude to all the individuals and organizations that have worked with devotion, patience and love to realize this project.  I would like to thank firstly Mr Tom Bowers for the conceptualization, design, and moulding of the Freedom Monument. Thank you Tom and your family!

I wish to thank Bronze Age Foundry of Cape Town for the manufacturing of this magnificent monument.

My thanks go equally to the Minister of Land Use and Housing, Mr Christian Lionnet, and his highly committed team, for the conceptualization and preparation of the site on which the new monument stands.

I also thank the Green Island Construction Company, under the direction of Mr Glenny Savy, for the execution of the works for this project.

Dear compatriots

Let the spirit of this monument guide our thoughts and our actions towards a patriotic fervor, invigorated by our love for each other, and our love for our motherland. Let it inspire us toward a new future, toward a more fraternal world. Let it inspire our efforts to work for a New Seychelles where we have banished hatred, prejudice, recrimination.  Let it inspire so that love reigns in our country. Let our sufferings of the past, the sufferings of more than two centuries of history, strengthen our resolve to create a Seychelles that is united and at peace. Let the victories and successes of our past inspire us toward other victories and successes in the future.

Seychelles always exhorts us toward peace and unity. These are indivisible. They are inseparable from prosperity and freedom. They shape our future. Let us walk together, united, with hope and confidence toward the future, toward the New Seychelles.

May this Liberty Monument become the star that illuminates the path of all Seychellois of goodwill and that guides us in our endeavour. That forever and ever it represents freedom for all Seychellois, the unity of our nation.

I wish all Seychellois here and everywhere in the world a very happy Independence Day.

May God continue to protect us and shower our country with His blessings.

I now have the great pleasure and honour to inaugurate the Liberty Monument.

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