Speech by President James Michel for the Golden Jubilee of Parti Lepep conference
Fri, 30 May 2014
Honourable Representatives of the African National Congress of the
Republic of South Africa,
Honourable Representative of the Chama Cha Mapinduzi of the
United Republic of Tanzania,
Honourable Representatives of the Communist Party of the
People’s Republic of China,
Members of the Central Committee,
Parti Lepep Delegates,
Our political party, whose golden jubilee we are celebrating, was born of a deep-rooted conviction and an abiding faith in the Seychellois people. Conviction in the inalienable principles of freedom, justice and equality. Faith in the inherent goodness of man. It was also born of a vision.
Fifty years ago, a young revolutionary had a vision of justice, freedom, fraternity and harmony for his country. This young man – France Albert René – set about transforming this vision into reality. And from this vision the Seychelles People’s United Party emerged. It declared its aims to be:
To unite the people in a democratic organisation with no social, economic, religious or racial discrimination …
To seek freedom from colonial rule … and
To establish a Government of the People, for the People and by the People …
As we celebrate the golden jubilee of the party that France Albert René founded together with other like-minded companions of the first hour, let us never forget the courage, the daring and the audacity of those true patriots. Let us also never forget the tenets of the party they bequeathed to us.
On this historic occasion we are happy and proud to have with us representatives from the African National Congress, a representative from the Chama Cha Mapinduzi, representatives from the Communist Party of the People’s Republic of China, and our friends from Mauritius will join us later tonight.
We are gathered to share experiences and to renew our friendship forged in struggles past and present. We are gathered to re-affirm our solidarity. We are gathered to proclaim the values that unite us. We stand for justice and equality, for freedom, for progress and development, for democracy …
Once again, I thank you all most sincerely for being with us here today. For extending your support and solidarity to us on this historic occasion. We look forward to many more years of collaboration and cooperation between us.
Ladies and gentlemen,
As we commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the party which has withstood the test of time, the party which has fought relentlessly for the rights of the Seychellois, the party which is the epitome of resilience, the party which draws its strength from our thirst for freedom and justice, and its vigour from the founding fathers of the OAU, we – Parti Lepep – we stand together as a beacon of hope for our small nation. We are united in purpose and action. Resolute in empowering our people. Boldly making our mark on history. Fearless in dignity!
We have written a powerful chapter in our history. Of sacrifices, determination, hope, hard work, rapid development, smiles but also tears... What mattered most during those 50 years was our beloved Seychelles, the common good, the progress of all our people.
Many more chapters are waiting to be written by Lepep. And write them we shall! We, an association of the great majority of Seychellois, who share the same values, who love their fellow Seychellois, united, industrious, resilient, striving to achieve the common goals of an entire nation…
At 50, we are poised on a threshold. It is a powerful reminder of events past, of bitter struggles, of sacrifices made, of experiences gained, of superb accomplishments… But also a threshold steering us towards a new frontier, waiting to be conquered. Driving us to new horizons on which are etched the hopes and aspirations of our people in an ever changing world. It galvanises our ambitions and reinforces our commitments to our people.
It is not by chance that the word “people” features prominently in the name of our party. In 1964 the Seychelles People’s United Party (SPUP) was launched, followed by its transformation into the Seychelles People’s Progressive Front (SPPF) in 1978, and its rebranding in 2009 to become Parti Lepep.
Fifty years ago our party was created to put people at the centre of development, to lift us, to deliver freedom, justice and equality to our people, to build a proud nation, a modern country. We remember vividly the day when we planted the party in our soil. That day was the beginning of the empowerment of our people. The beginning of new hope. Our nation took an historic turn. And there was no turning back.
Those fifty years have been momentous ones, of epic challenges, of jubilation but also of tribulation, of monumental achievements and successes. But we also had our moments of weaknesses and shortcomings.
We fell, but rose again with clenched fists, uncowed brows and re-kindled determination to do better and more, never admitting defeat. We have lived to the full fifty of the most eventful years of the history of Seychelles. And we have made history.
People of Seychelles,
Let it never be forgotten: we are the party that fought for the independence of our country. But independence on its own is meaningless. It is meaningless unless accompanied by liberation from the shackles of injustice, poverty, inequality, ignorance, social exclusion … We are the party that brought about true independence for our people. We led the struggle of our workers for a better life, offering all our people equal opportunities in life. We democratised education. We established a health system, which in spite of its imperfections, is the envy of many nations. We provided access to decent and affordable housing to our people. We established a strong base for our welfare, enshrining the rights of our children and the dignity of our senior citizens. We laid the foundation for sustainable development. We mobilised our communities. Together we changed Seychelles, from a backwater colony to an upper middle-income nation. We gave democracy its real significance. We, Lepep, together with the people!
We have plenty to celebrate. Today it is right and fitting that we celebrate this landmark in the history of our party and in the history of our nation. We do so with great pride, satisfaction and a sense of accomplishment.
But as we celebrate the golden jubilee of the party that successfully rallied our people to the cause of Seychelles, let us, on this solemn occasion, remember those who sowed the seeds of our struggle and of our accomplishments. Let us remember those pioneers and visionaries who blazed the trail and to whom we owe so much. The achievements we celebrate today are the fruits of their struggle.
First and foremost, let us pay tribute to President France Albert René, the founder of our party. He is a great son of Seychelles… President René continues to remain an inspiration to our party, to all of us. We express our deep gratitude to him.
Let us also remember the companions of President René and all those early revolutionaries who helped steer the nation to prosperity and forge our party into what it is today. Some of them are with us here today and we salute them with deep respect. Others are, sadly, departed; we revere their memory.
We sincerely thank them all for devoting their lives to the noble ideals of our party, for their conviction, for believing in the potential of our free people. We dedicate these celebrations to them.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Today Parti Lepep is a national institution firmly entrenched in the socio-political fabric of our country. It is broad-based, appealing to all people, young and old, of all backgrounds, who are driven by the same objectives to build on the unity and prosperity of the Seychellois nation. We welcome challenges, as we welcome change. Change enables us to remain relevant to new times, and faithful to our principles. That is why we adapt, and we welcome all who want to help us take our country to new heights.
Today we begin marching towards the new frontier, guided by the same principles, inspired by the wealth of our achievements, invigorated by the energy of our youth. We have the experience to take on new challenges. Parti Lepep is rock solid. We are the party of change. We are the party of inclusion. We are the party which rallies the nation to the new frontier, which is ours to conquer. The party of the New Seychelles. National unity and social harmony are our hallmarks. The hallmarks of the New Seychelles. The driving force of Parti Lepep. A Parti Lepep that is more committed, more determined than ever to lead the people. To write another chapter in the history of our small nation. The new chapter that we begin writing starts with a new mission: to guide the New Seychelles to the new frontier.
I thank you and wish you all a happy Golden Jubilee. May God continue to bless our nation!