Seychelles has just hosted the 4th edition of the Carnival International Victoria between 25th and 27th April 2014, an event to capture the imagination of an increasingly troubled and insecure planet for the way it showcases international goodwill and cooperation between a steadily increasing number of participants.
This year included not only old favourites Notting Hill, Brazil, Dusseldorf, Trinidad & Tobago and many others besides, but also newcomers from even further afield such as Sweden, Bhutan and Mozambique who made full use of this unique opportunity to demonstrate their cultural attributes on the international stage in front of 149 international members of the press, 34 international dignitaries including carnival co-hosts La Reunion island, Madagascar, Mayotte and South Africa KwaZulu-Natal, as well as a total of 26 international and 26 local float delegations. The 3-day spectacle has become a favourite with Seychellois who again turned out in huge numbers to enjoy the carnival extravaganza on offer: live music shows by a range of international artists; food stalls; the famous carnival procession itself and an opportunity to mingle and savour the carnival atmosphere, which this year even included a special Kiddies Carnival.
The carnival kicked off on the evening of Friday, 25th April with an official launch at Victoria’s Stad Popiler in the presence of President James Michel, foreign dignitaries, members of government, the local business community and members of the public. After addresses by Minister for Tourism & Culture, Alain St. Ange and the CEO of the Tourism Board, Sherin Naiken in which Seychelles was proudly announced to be in 5th position in the current international carnival rankings, the evening exploded into colour, sound and carnival spirit with lively performances by artists from China, La Reunion, Seychelles, USA, Kwazulu Natal and Sweden among others.
After a threatening start to the next day with storm clouds gathering on the horizon, the long-awaited carnival procession flooded the streets of central Victoria with a kaleidoscope of carnival colour in the form of 52 carnival floats, their members gyrating on the tarmac and returning the soul of the Carnaval International de Victoria to the capital arguably as never before. From Chinese giants on stilts, Alsatian dogs in phosphorescent sunglasses, Miss Seychelles contestants in Hawaiian grass skirts, and Germans parading in period costume to Bhutanese musicians, dazzling Brazilians and another amazing Notting Hill act, once again Seychelles’ carnival of carnivals told the world a story of diversity, harmony and international good will overcoming regional rivalry and blinkered self-interest. This time around Minister St. Ange used the immortal words of John Lennon to great effect in promoting the carnival and widening its appeal: “You may say I am a dreamer, but I’m not the only one; I hope one day you’ll join us and the world will be as one.’’ After the carnival procession in which China and Raffles won respectively the contest for the best international and local float, the crowds peeled off to enjoy the many carnival pleasures on offer throughout Victoria in the form of great music, food and entertainment.
On the last day, Sunday, the traditional Family Fun Day was replaced by the newly- conceived Kiddies Carnival under the stewardship of international soca queen Lima Calbio in which Bel Eau Primary School came out on top of a competition only slightly marred by the rain. After the festivities huge numbers of people convened in Freedom square to enjoy the twilight of the carnival ambiance and a feast of live performances.