Seychelles leader visits Bihar, the land of his ancestors who migrated to work as plantation workers

"My great grand-father left Bihar in 1883, from his village, and travelled down to Patna. And from there, he took a train to Calcutta (now Kolkata) and from Calcutta did a 10-12 week-long sea voyage to Mauritius. He was then placed in a sugarcane plantation," Wavel Ramkalawan said.

By: PTI | New Delhi | Published: January 9, 2018 7:35:44 pm
Seychelles' Leader of Opposition Wavel Ramkalawan Seychelles’ Leader of Opposition Wavel Ramkalawan

His great-grandfather left the Indian shores over 130 years ago, and now Seychelles’ Leader of Opposition Wavel Ramkalawan is all set to undertake an “emotional journey” tomorrow to reconnect to his roots in a village in Bihar. Ramkalawan, who was born in the island nation in 1961, and is currently the Leader of Opposition in the National Assembly of Seychelles, is here for the first conference of persons of Indian origin (PIO) parliamentarians from across the globe.

“Part of the mission, part of my personal mission, is what I consider to be an emotional one. My great grand-father left Bihar in 1883, from his village called Parsauni, and travelled down to Patna. “And from there, he took a train to Calcutta (now Kolkata) and from Calcutta did a 10-12 week-long sea voyage to Mauritius. He was then placed in a sugarcane plantation,” he said. Ramkalawan, who shared the journey of his forefathers, last evening during a talk session hosted by the Indian Council of World Affairs at the Sapru House here, said his odyssey to the ancestral village will be the “first such journey” undertaken by anyone from Seychelles.

The SNP leader at present heads the National Assembly’s Outer Island Committee, the Committee for Truth and National Reconciliation and the Finance and Public Accounts Committee. The leader of the Seychelles National Party, who heads the National Assembly’s Outer Island Committee, the Committee for Truth and National Reconciliation and the Finance and Public Accounts Committee, emphatically said, he was taking the journey, because, he did not to “lose my roots”.

“No one from Seychelles has done this kind of research, so I am proud of it. I want to go back and see what I can contribute to in making the lives of my distant relatives better,” he said. Going down memory lane, Ramkalawan, a Christian by faith, also narrated the journey of his ancestors from Mauritius to Seychelles.

“When my great-grandfather died at the age of 48, his wife and two sons sent left Mauritius and came to Seychelles. So, my grandfather came to Seychelles and married a local woman, and my father was born of that relationship. “And, part of mission I have is… I want to go back and see the village where my great grandfather came from, to find out my roots,” he said.

Ramkalawan said the village has been identified and tomorrow with the “help of my friends and the Indian government”, he will be going to Bihar. “Hopefully, I will be able to catch up with the relatives of my grandfather… I do not want to lose my roots,” he said.

The SNP leader, also shared the India connection with the first settlement of Seychelles, when 28 people had landed on its shores. “In 1778, when the first settlement took place, of the 28 people who landed in Seychelles, 15 were white, seven Africans, five Indians and one black woman. So, India and Seychelles go a long way back,” he said.

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