The Sayings of James R. Mancham.Printec Press Holdings (Py) Ltd., Seychelles, 2002.
N.B.: Out of print. New edition to be published in 2010.
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Meaningful truths are never newly discovered. They are just uncovered anew by those who allow themselves time to think. Unfortunately, very often clear thinking and ideas worth expressing get buried in verbiage.
Since I joined the Seychelles Review in 1994, I have had a very close association with the work of James R. Mancham and became fascinated by his writing style and special love of words. I am told that he derived it from his father, Richard Mancham, who loved oratory and wanted to be a lawyer but ended up a successful businessman during the colonial era.
Considering James R. Mancham as a great visionary, I have thought that it would be sad if his words of wits and wisdom were to be allowed to be lost in the mists of past history. My research of some of his speeches and published articles has revealed several memorable epigrams, phrases and witticism which are no doubt the product of a fertile and versatile mind.
On Friday 5th July, 2002 the International Conference Centre in Victoria was full to capacity for a ceremony hosted by the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation (Indian Ocean Chapter) in honour of three outstanding Seychellois who had been nominated for the Foundation’s Life Time Achievement Award for their contribution to the social and economical development of the Seychellois society. James R. Mancham was one of the three who received the Award. I have thought it appropriate to reproduce in the beginning of this book what the Chief Justice of the Republic of Seychelles the Honourable V. Alleear said about Mr Mancham on this occasion as well as Mr Mancham’s response.
Andy Pothin, Plaisance, Mahé – 15th July 2002
From the address of Chief Justice V. Alleear of the Republic of Seychelles on the occasion of the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation’s (Indian Ocean Chapter) Life Time Achievement Award
“…After very careful deliberation, the Foundation has this year nominated three outstanding personalities for this ever prestigious Life Time Award. Each of them in his own field of activity and association has contributed to the social and economical upliftment of the Seychellois society.
The first nominee is Sir James Richard Mancham, the Founding President of the Republic of Seychelles and current Leader of the Democratic Party. Mr Mancham, a Barrister from Middle temple, a globe trotter par excellence, has become a celebrity the world over. He is a prolific writer, a natural charmer with a flamboyant personality.
His keynote address on world peace in South Korea in February 2000 and at the Summit Council for World Peace in New York in May 2001 have been acclaimed the world over.
Sir James, fondly called “Papa Labarbe” by many Seychellois immediately brings to mind the notion of peace in the social, economic, political and other fibres of society.
James Mancham has made peace and reconciliation his life mission. For him peace is the building block upon which a healthy society stands. He has been instrumental and relentless in his pursuit of a non-violent policy for his beloved Seychelles. It is a measure of Sir Mancham’s sagacity that he has not succumbed to cheap politicking but has embraced a policy of peace and national reconciliation. He has put his country before self. He has never denigrated his country for political mileage. He has taken control of the steering wheel to set the process of national reconciliation in motion. He is presently still steering the nation into a virtuous direction.
He treads very cautiously. He knows when to break in time when danger looms. Many a time he has pulled back to avoid confrontation.
Slowly but surely, like “Père Kobe” who is still going strong. Sir Mancham’s ideology is gaining mileage and making strides in the right direction.
Sir Mancham has become a prominent figure in world peace and to echo his own words:–
“Il n’y a absolument rien d’abstrait à la paix
intérieure qui coule au dedans de nous.
Lorsqu’un home sait apprécier au
mieux les choses simples.
En se laissant flotter chaque jour au
gré des courants de la vie.
En parfait harmonie avec l’univers autour de lui.
Un tel home aura un Coeur qui se porte bien.
Un esprit qui est satisfait.”
Sir James, like you, we share in the notion of peace and national reconciliation which we believe is the only way to our salvation.
Sir James, we wish you all the success in your continuous endeavors to engage the Seychellois society in a pacific movement…”
Response of Mr Mancham on the occasion of the Life Time Achievement Award
“I am certainly not too sure whether I qualify to receive the high honour and recognition bestowed on me by the Indian Ocean Chapter of the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation. Whilst it is true that I have been involved in diverse initiatives over the last few years in the pursuit of National Reconciliation in Seychelles and in the pursuit of peace worldwide, I never expected that this would have brought to me such a singular recognition.
Whilst I admit that as a response to my human ego, I have over the years had a penchant for collecting testimonies and certificates attesting to this or to that achievement, from different parts of the world, it must nonetheless be noted that I culminated my work Peace of Mind with the following lines.
Along life’s sandy shores
Let me leave behind my humble footprints
Until the tide will come in
To wash them away
For no matter how one is moulded today
Time and tide waits for no man
And the ravaging waves of history
Soon cast one unto its wilderness
A forgotten being in the mists of a bygone past
Perhaps, what is important about this evening’s celebration is the initiative taken by a local organization to provide me with the awareness that my work for peace and reconciliation has not gone un-noticed and that I should continue with it. For Soeur Chantal, it is an acclamation for selfless dedication over many, many years to community service and for Mr Clet Rivière, a recognition of the shining example he has set as an individual who has risen u to meet the challenges of daily work in an exemplary manner.
What is indeed important about this event is not that it seeks to honour the three of us in the way it has done, but that it projects vis-à-vis the wider public, the message that whilst certain endeavours may not bring monetary reward, they are certainly appreciated and cherished by fellow men of goodwill. That a society is able to do this, is part of the process of nation building and an indication of its growing maturity.
Finally, let me say that there is nothing truly great in any man except character. Manners carry the world for the moment, character for all times. It is better to be short of cash than to be short of character. Your character is what God knows you to be. Your reputation is what men think you are…”
Some of the Sayings
- From the first day of my return to Seychelles, I openly, publicly and unequivocably declared that I had returned as the Apostle of National Reconciliation. (DP Congress, March 1995. Seychelles Review – April 1995)
- Today, we can take comfort in the knowledge that things have been able to evolve to get us where we are without us having been engaged in civil strife or loss of life. Personally, I am a man of peace and I am proud of this. (Seychelles Review – May/June 1995)
- A Party may have a majority and be able to rule but that does not mean the ability to consolidate social harmony and ensure internal happiness and stability. (Seychelles Review – May/June 1995)
- Confrontational politics result in the creation and perpetuation of what I call “Political Tribalism” – a situation where scarce talent and resources, instead of uniting for the common good and interest, are wasted in the creation of division and the promotion, at times, of artificial issues. (Seychelles Review – May/June 1995)
- National Reconciliation is above all a healing process which is based on a genuine desire to promote more internal harmony and less social tension so that the overall national interest takes priority over partisan consideration. (Seychelles Review – May/June 1995)
- It is true that with their majority, the SPPF can decide and impose but do they really wish to remind themselves of all the tragedies and problems which characterized the Second Republic and for which they are responsible? (Seychelles Review – May/June 1995
- For one thing, I only represent a part of the political equation of this country, and Reconciliation cannot be a one way process if it is to be of a lasting nature. (Grand Coalition and Government of National Unity. Seychelles Review – November 1995)
- National Reconciliation should not be regarded as an end in itself. It is rather a base from which to start. There is a tide in the affairs of a country which rises only on rare occasions. The importance is for the Leadership within a Nation to know when this tide is up and to seize it. (Grand Coalition and Government of National Unity. Seychelles Review – November 1995)
- If you look at the world today, you will find that there are more conflicts within States than between States. Since there has always been strong support by Governments and rulers for the concept of non-interference in the internal affairs of a country, then the only way left to establish internal stability, respect, peace and order is through the route of National Reconciliation. (Press Conference on National Reconciliation. Seychelles Review – May 1996)
- Modern politics have a lot to do with manipulative actions which themselves have a lot to do with availability of resources. And we know that the SPPF is not short of that. (Behind and beyond the SPPF Congress. Seychelles Review – June 1996)
- We shall make the best of the 21st Century if we learn the lessons of this one, in which political changes have left us with a world in transition. Transition is not easy but it is much harder for those countries moving from a command economy to free enterprise. (Message for National Day. Seychelles Review – June 1996)
- Democratic freedom has its responsibilities. It solves problems but unbridled, it can also create others. An effective rule of law is vital. The truth is that order requires both justice and moral and social authority. We have to strengthen the institutions – the family, the courts, the National Assembly and the Government in a way that they are not only accepted but also appreciated and respected. (Message for National Day. Seychelles Review – June 1996)
- We have to recognize that the people’s role in a democracy does not end when they cast their votes. They have to live up to and apply the standards and values which are the characteristics and foundation of democracy. (Message for National Day. Seychelles Review – June 1996)
- The paramount factor for success remains the quality of our people. How hard do we work? How much saving do we make? How powerful is our commitment to education and self-improvement, social discipline and our desire to do better for our families? (Message for National Day. Seychelles Review – June 1996)
- In our search for a greater future for our country, we must always remember the supreme purpose of life. The best lives are lived by those who pursue the lofty goal of working hard, not only to ensure their own well-being and happiness but also the well-being and happiness of others. (Message for National Day. Seychelles Review – June 1996)
- If we want peace and prosperity, we must strive for national unity bt there can be no unity without going through the process of National Reconciliation. It is the only way before us – but it cannot be a one-way road nor a cul de sac. (Message for National Day. Seychelles Review – June 1996)
- I stated that the DP has lost a battle but had not lost the war. Well in politics, the war is never over but what is important for us to perceive is that whilst the Democratic Party lost the first battle, it is still the Party which is winning the peace. (Seychelles Review – September 1996)
- Winning the peace is of course another ball game because if you seek for a lasting peace, truth must take over from propaganda and manipulation. Through our policy of National Reconciliation, I believe our Nation is going through a ‘healing process,’ which will enable the people eventually to think more as a Seychellois than as an SPPF or DP supporter. (Seychelles Review – September 1996)
- I want to call for a partnership which comes more from the heart and less from political maneuvering. I call for a Seychelles of greater fraternal harmony, more dialogue and social contacts among the players on the national stage. Let us sincerely and honestly collaborate to ensure that our common resources, our experience and goodwill work in harmony with the national interest. (Budget reply. December 1996. Seychelles Review – Dec 1996/Jan 1997)
- Paradise cannot be divided against itself. God did not give us this most beautiful of all countries for us to behave like cats and dogs conditioned by a ‘blue and red’ politics which has lost relevance in the world of today. Today, we must live on our own resources, not on polemics or slogans. Today, we must face the truth and not be manipulators of divisive propaganda. (DP Convention. November 1996. Seychelles Review – Dec1996/Jan 1997)
- I know that President René and his entourage will take comfort from my politics of National Reconciliation in the short term but in so far as the medium and long term future is concerned, I am slowly and systematically destroying the rigid fabric of the SPPF and exposing the youth of Seychelles to a vision beyond that of the one-party propaganda machinery. (DP Convention. November 1996. Seychelles Review – Dec 1996/Jan 1997)