Seychelles’ former President James Mancham honoured in a National Museum exhibition 

The exhibition, depicting the life of Mancham, is being held at the National Museum of History. (Seychelles Nation) 

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Seychelles’ late former President, Sir James Richard Mancham, is being honoured as a contemporary political figure in the island nation through an exhibition that opened on Tuesday.

The exhibition, depicting the life of Mancham, is being held at the National Museum of History at the former Supreme Court Building in the capital Victoria. It has a collection of items donated by the family of the late president as part of the Independence Day activity of the National Museums.

Various artefacts are being displayed until September showing the life of Mancham who was awarded a Knight Commander of the British Empire in 1976.

The director of the National Museum, Beryl Ondiek, told SNA “We wanted to show his life as a political figure, while the photo albums also on exhibition also provide glimpses of his personality.

Various artefacts showing the life of Mancham are being displayed until September. (Seychelles Nation) Photo License: CC-BY   

She added that “it was quite fast to set up the exhibition as there are items that the family had given in addition to what the museum already had in their possession.”

Alexander Mancham – the late Sir Mancham’s son told reporters that the exhibition is “a unique opportunity for people who didn’t know the works of my father to come down and learn about history and the process of national reconciliation and all that that entails.”

He said that there is a desk on display which is “where he sat every day and worked relentlessly around the clock.”

He added that “it was important to have such an exhibition as clearly, we live in a world that is still pulverised, still polarised, and still requires a fundamental change at many level. I think people like my father will be sorely missed.”

Among the items on display are his various passports which Ondiek shared that “Sir Mancham was someone without a nationality during the times that he was exiled from his country. He was only given the documents so he could travel since he did not have a Seychelles Passport.”

Mancham was the first President of Seychelles, a group of 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean, and held office from 1976 to 1977. He was overthrown in a coup d’etat on June 5, 1977, after which the former Prime Minister, France Albert Rene, became the President.

The exhibition has a collection of items donated by the family of the late president. (Seychelles Nation) Photo License: CC-BY   

During the ceremony to officially open the exhibition, many of the guests were individuals who were also exiled or who had kept close ties to Mancham during those times.

James Mancham was born on August 11, 1939, he studied at the Seychelles College after “his father sent him to London to Study Law,” recounted David Andre, Secretary General for the Seychelles National Institute of Culture, Heritage and the Arts.

Mancham went to Fulsome College in the UK to study law and was called to the Bar in 1961.

After additional studies in economics at the University of Paris, he returned to Seychelles and served as a barrister at the Supreme Court.

While, many present shared interesting anecdotes of the former president,  Philip Figaro, Mancham’s head of security ever since he returned from exile in 1992, told SNA that the photos bring back fond memories of his former boss.

“Although the exhibition does not prominently show the joie-de vivre he is so well known for, it brings back memories of how my boss was a generous man, and how he would always talk to everyone,” he said.

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