As the tourism world looks forward to the upcoming launch of the eagerly anticipated book, “Alain St. Ange, My Journey”, well-respected tourism professional and publisher of ATC News, Prof. Wolfgang Thome recently caught up with Alain to understand a little more about the autobiography by the former Seychelles Minister for Tourism, Civil Aviation, Ports and Marine.
Alain St. Ange is today a highly-revered and much sought after speaker at various international tourism conferences. The tourism guru who also sits as a Board Member on a number of tourism organisations across the globe, contested the last presidential elections in the Seychelles.
Enjoy the St. Ange interview by Prof. Thome below…
Prof Thome: What inspired you to write an autobiography now?
Alain St. Ange: My autobiography chronicles my life from the La Digue Island boy, who was brought up to become a loving father and grandfather, and who rose through the ranks with hard work, tenacity, and an un-wavering passion for Seychelles.
This is a personal story, not only about a life that I’ve been proud to live, but about my family that helped shaped me into the man I became.
My love for history is why I’ve attempted to place on record not only my life, but also the family tree from which I descended as well as that of my wife Ginette St. Ange née Michel. This work is inspired by the desire to continue to document and preserve the rich history of our families for future generations. It’s said that most of us will be forgotten within 4 generations; hopefully this book can help our descendants understand where we came from and to not forget those that came before us.
I am writing my autobiography now as time waits for no one, and I’m at the best stage of my life to reflect and dedicate the time required. I’m proud of my story and felt it may well inspire others. This knowledge kept me working and kept me digging through family historical records. Today, I realise more than ever before, the pains and tribulations of past generations. From as far back as those who were slaves, where even the family name was adapted to the one who freed them, to today only six generations later, to participate in the Nation’s Presidential Elections.
Prof. Thome: Can you share more detail about your autobiography?
St. Ange: My autobiography documents my life from birth, to education, through to my employment years including my time at the Ministry of Tourism. It includes details on my self-exile following termination of employment by Albert Rene in the early 1980’s, and subsequent re-employment into the Seychelles Tourism Board following a call by the Islands’ Tourism Private Sector Trade, through to my appointment as Minister of Tourism by James Michel.
The book covers my bid for the UNWTO (United Nations World Tourism Organization) position and the subsequent saga that ended with a court case against the Seychelles Government. The book ends with a section dedicated to Politics in Seychelles, from the family’s participation in the colonial era, right up to my own bid at the last Presidential elections.
“Alain St. Ange, My Journey” documents the construction of the ‘Cabanes Des Anges’ Hotel at La Digue in 1972, including never-seen-before photos forwarded by previous guests from the 1970’s, until it was acquired under duress by the Government of Albert Rene. This section includes extracts documenting what transpired in the recent sessions of the TRNUC (Truth & Reconciliation Committee).
A lot of the book has been dedicated to documenting and preserving the family historical lines from the different branches of my extended St Ange (Saint Ange) Family of Seychelles, including the Mellon, De Charmoy Lablache, and Savy families. I’ve also taken the opportunity to document and preserve the rich heritage of the Michel and Hunt families (through my wife, Ginette St. Ange née Michel).
This section includes as many birth and death certificates that we could find, their final resting places where available, as well as photos and some of their individual life stories. It was important that they weren’t forgotten, and my book gave us the repository to properly preserve their legacies.
Interspersed throughout the book are all the major events that I lived through and documented as seen through my eyes. These events include the construction of the US Tracking Station, the reclamation of Victoria, the first and only visit by Her Majesty QE Elizabeth II, the construction and opening of the Seychelles International Airport, the subsequent first aircraft landing in Seychelles, the first Seychelles festival in 1972, the launching of tourism in Seychelles, independence of the Islands from Great Britain in 1976, the Military Coup in 1977, and the return of multi-party democracy in 1993.
The book is written in an easy-to-read format where each photo speaks a thousand words and supported by little anecdotes providing a real sense of the time.
Prof. Thome: Have you enjoyed the process of writing your autobiography?
St. Ange: The research undertaken for my autobiography enabled me to discover myself, as well as my family’s achievements, ensuring that the St. Ange family generations to come will better understand their proud legacy.
“You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. I hope some day you’ll join us, and the world will live as one.”– John Lennon
I re-echoed these famous words of John Lennon at the opening of the first edition of the ‘Carnaval International de Victoria’ in 2011, and even today, these words continue to guide me. I’ve lived a full life with no what-ifs and have remained true to myself throughout. What more can one ask from life?
Prof. Thome: Where can we get a copy of your new book?
St. Ange: We are in final discussions with publishing houses, and I am still finalizing details at this stage. More information will be shared as soon as we go to print.