Letter to the Editor,
As a student of history, I would like to comment on the article in the Seychelles Nation of the 26th of November 2011 regarding the Cartographic exhibition. According to the article, the exhibition “permet de redécouvrir l’archipel depuis sa découverte jusqu’à la fin de la période française » I found this a bit misleading because the Seychelles archipelago was known and named previously by non-European seafarers who inserted the islands on their maps including the Chinese, though, the latter did not give the islands any name. I know a Seychellois collector who has maps of the region prior to that of the Europeans.
Apropos the ancient copies of the exhibited cartographies, it would have been very interesting for the Seychellois public to know how many new maps or cartography the team has discovered. How many copies they have taken from the collection of the Seychelles National Archives to incorporate in their exhibition? I doubt that in that three years they could have made any new important discoveries. I think that it is now the duty of the Seychelles National Archives to inform us of any new documents in that exhibition. In our region the French used to hide the fact, for example, when they took control of Putucceri (New Village) in India that Putucceri is from the Tamil word Putu meaning new and Ceri Village. They did not respect the authentic version and they renamed the place Pondichéry. The cheeky Mahé de Labourdonnais after arriving at Mayyazhi (Eyebrow of the sea) pronounced Mayye on the Malabar Coast, renamed the place Mahé in his honour.
When the Portuguese President Mario Soares visited Seychelles in November 1995, an exhibition on Old Portuguese maps on the region was mounted by Portuguese with the collaboration of Seychelles National Archives. And they gave a copy of the book “The Portuguese Cartography and the making of the World picture”, by Alefredo Pinhiero Marques to the National Archives.
In that exhibition nearly all the Portuguese Cartographies of the Indian Ocean were displayed including a few from the collection of that Seychelles National Archives.
According to the article it took the team three years of research to mount the exhibition and no mention is made of the cost contributed by the Ministry of Culture. There were, according to the article Seychellois in the group which came from the Ministry of Culture. However, none of their names are mentioned, only that of certain Mr Toubon, or… Touboun. The article was a bit confusing because, in another issue of the Seychelles Nation his name became Mr.Touboul. That name seems to derive from TOUBOUL a Juif errant of Tetouan in Morocco.