View from La Misere
This is the late afternoon view from the balcony of my new home
It’s moving week for me here. Last Sunday I preached at the main service at the Cathedral, and the service was also broadcast on the radio by the Seychelles Broadcasting Corporation (SBC). I happened to use a coconut as one of my illustrations during the homily. Throughout this week people who were there or who listened on the radio have been coming up to tell me that they liked the coconut. Note to self: people are much more likely to remember the image you use than the words you say!
On Monday, Bishop Santosh got back from his travels. There were two immediate impacts on me. The first was that all planning that had been done became tentative and to be confirmed by the Bishop. The second was that I had to move! I’ve been staying in the Bishop’s house in town, but because he had other visitors arriving, I’ve now moved up to La Misere in the mountains. La Misere is only a 15 minute drive from Victoria when there’s no traffic, but it feels much farther. To get here you have to take one of those narrow mountain roads that twists and turns its way up the
side of the mountain. At the top I found a surprising number of homes, accessible by steep lanes or by foot. After a few days however, it became more obvious why people chose to live here: the air is much cooler than in town, and for me this comes as a great relief!
The Anglican Church has an old theological college at La Misere called St. Philip’s. Once upon a time, about 25 years ago, it trained candidates for ordination. There was a class of ten students, 5 of whom went on to be ordained as priests, but only one of whom remains active as a priest in the Seychelles. It is a snapshot of one of the major problems facing the church here: there aren’t enough Seychellois to serve the church as ordained ministers, despite the great promise of that theology class of the early 80’s. At the moment there are only four full-time priests here trying to serve 11 congregations on two islands. St. Philip’s theological college is no longer active as a college. The chapel serves as the local church for the town of La Misere, and there is a retired South African, Canon Peter, who
June 5 Monument
When I first saw this I assumed it was a monument to celebrate the abolition of slavery. However I found out that it was to commemorate the armed coup by which the current government seized power from the democratically elected government in 1977.
looks after it, assists with other duties in the diocese and provides training for lay people. Various people stay in the dormitory style rooms upstairs, including yours truly. Peter and his wife Joey are my hosts here, feeding me and making sure that I’m well looked after. It’s a quiet place, and it reminds me in a way of a visit I made to the farm of my great-aunt and uncle in the mountains of Zimbabwe. Life has a slower pace, and traces of the colonial era remain, such as the importance of a cup of tea!
This week in Seychelles was a bit chopped up. Both Tuesday and Thursday were public holidays. June 5 is called Liberation Day by the government here. According to the government, this is the day that the Seychelles was truly liberated from the colonial era. However in reality, June 5, 1977 was the day that the current government of the Seychelles assumed power in an armed coup that overthrew the democratically elected government of an independent Seychelles, killing two people in the process. In the years that followed people who were opposed to the government simply disappeared according to what people have told
Fish at the Victoria market
Fresh fish are unloaded every morning and sold at the market in the centre of town
me in private. Those same people also warned me not to talk about these things in public. There is still an aura of fear that lurks beneath the surface in this place, despite the fact that a multi-party democratic system of government was restored constitutionally in 1993. However until there is actually a change in government, democracy really exists only in theory. As recently as last October, members of the opposition here were attacked and injured by the government security forces.
The bottom line for me with all these holidays was a little more free time this week. Yesterday I took advantage of this by going snorkelling for the first time. I found a beach tucked away on the northwest coast which had granite formations extending out under the sea. On the rocks, coral had grown, and all around these formations were an amazing array of colourful fish, and even a big sting ray with a tail that trailed a good four feet behind him. Remembering what happened to Steve Irwin, I didn’t get too close, but it was quite something watching him glide along the ocean floor. The only drawback of my snorkelling was that I forgot to
Hillside tea plantation
Tea is an important ritual at St. Philip's, served 5 times a day! The local tea is very good.
put on a shirt, and ended up with a bit of a sunburn on my back. However I checked in on the internet that night and found out that the headlines back in Canada are that sunshine and Vitamin D decrease the risk of cancer. So maybe it wasn’t so bad to get a little sun after all.
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