This year Seychelles can learn from 2020 and make things better for all
By Lewis Betsy
As we enter a new year I want to wish everyone a safe and happy 2021. The last 12 months have seen some massive changes in all of our lives. I hope that we can learn from them to safeguard our future.
The Covid-19 pandemic has dominated everything. It has altered our everyday existence.
In Seychelles, it has reduced tourism, our key source of revenue, to a minute portion of what it was.
Things are picking up, particularly from the Middle East, but we watch with a wary eye as other countries suffer a variant of the virus and travel is shut down once more.
We are so fortunate in Seychelles that while we have had cases, there has been nothing on the scale of the major nations. Although sadly, there has now been one fatality – Vincent Pillay, a friend I knew from my football days.
We must do our best to avoid more tragedies. It is vital that we remain vigilant.
As 2020 ends, I note that we have experienced the first community transmission of the virus and that President Wavel Ramkalawan has swiftly ordered special, tighter measures to prevent a spike in cases.
From my own experience of dealing with health officials when I was quarantined here after arriving from the UK, I know that we are in safe hands.
Conditions will be tough, and may get tougher, but each and every Seychellois should be on guard to keep this virus from spreading.
I am thankful that our new government seems to be on the case and that is reassuring for many people expect great things of President Ramkalawan in other departments.
His administration is in its early days and we should give officials time to find their feet, but I feel it only right that we give the Government due notice that Seychelles Life will be holding the new government to account.
We have had too much experience of what bad politics can do. In 2021, we have the ideal opportunity to see what good, caring politicians can achieve.
After 40 years of tough, often criminally brutal government, many Seychellois are beginning to experience what life was like before the 1977 coup.
Today, the country is calm, people can talk freely, the old fears of a harsh and insensitive regime are slowly evaporating.
That is a good thing.
What is not so good is the legacy of the Rene years, all the wasted, shackled lives lost and damned by his government. I am confident that we will overcome this in due course, but there are challenges ahead.
Today, the drug problem is a harrowing one. I can appreciate the difficulties of having to deal with the 5,000 or so young male drug addicts on our islands. But we need to do more.
Seychelles is promoted abroad as a paradise. How ironic that some of the people living in this paradise feel they have to escape from reality through drug abuse.
We need to stop the supply of these damaging drugs and equally importantly find and eliminate the root causes of drug abuse in our society.
One factor is the unforgivable poverty still prevalent in Seychelles. There is a sector of society that feels it has been cut off from the affluent easy-going lifestyle enjoyed by many of us.
The islanders trapped here feel they have no way of making things better and drugs are their answer.
This situation must change.
To quote the politicians, we are all in this together. We should not look the other way as the poor people of Seychelles are cast aside.
Steps must be taken to eradicate the social deprivation on the archipelago.
President Ramkalawan promised many things in his election manifesto. Let us ensure that these promises are honoured.
As I write, I do not see much action yet. But as I say, let’s give him time. By March we should have a better idea of where we are heading.
For myself, 2020 was the year I returned to live in the land of my birth. Like many others I had been forced to flee and my return was long overdue.
One of my proudest moments was to cast a vote in the Seychelles elections and sense the joy and anticipation of the people as a new leader and party took power.
It was pure freedom… and such moments are priceless.
Now I am back I feel I want to make a greater contribution to our society.
My website, Seychelles Life, will be keeping an eye on what is going on in Seychelles and aims to keep everyone informed.
We intend to do interviews with key individuals in tourism, politics the economy and sport.
Indeed, I see sport as a way of harnessing the energies of both young and old and giving direction and purpose to many lives.
Sport, particularly football, has always been my passion. I see that as a force for good.
Seychelles Life pledges its support for good work in all areas of society and public life. We will be relentless in criticising practices we see as inefficient and bad.
However, we can’t do it alone.
I believe that we need to continue supporting each other for the betterment of Seychelles.
To do that, we need everyone in the country to join forces to promote our beautiful country.
Togetherness is the best way forward and we must work at building on unity and sharing our aims. With everyone working together and acting as one we will achieve our goals.
We can make 2021 special. Let’s do it.
On that note, I wish a happy and prosperous New Year to everyone.