Seychelles is stepping up its efforts to recognise and give due value to the coconut by reopening the “Mize Koko” – the coconut museum – dedicated to the nut’s significant importance and contribution to the islanders’ lives.
The island nation in the western Indian Ocean also has plans to host its first-ever coconut festival later this year.
The museum will also be used to give visitors a live experience, tasting the coconut and various delicacies made from it, as well as participating in different coconut-related physical activities part of the island’s culture and tradition.
The museum’s reopening on April 28 is an initiative of the Creative Seychelles Agency (CSA) and the Seychelles National Institute of Culture, Heritage and the Arts (SNICHA).
The Mize Koko is based at Domaine Val de Pres at Au Cap. (Seychelles Nation) Photo License: CC-BY
The director general of CSA, Emmanuel D’Offay, explained in an interview with the Seychelles Broadcasting Corporation (SBC) TV that the museum will not only offer visitors a new attraction, where they get information through an exhibition with features on coconut and the economy, the history of coconut amongst others, and view different artifacts made from the coconut but visitors will be sold an experience.
“So when they come, they will be able to drink coconut water, drink some toddy and eat some dry coconut,” explained D’Offay, adding that the area will eventually be turned into a coconut village.
“When we will have large groups for those who can, they can try to de-husk a coconut and grate a coconut,” said D’Offay, where there will be Seychellois who will demonstrate these activities as attractions of the museum.
The opening of the museum is one step in the agency’s plan to host a first coconut festival in Seychelles later in September.
The various products that are made from coconut. (Seychelles Nation) Photo License: CC-BY
“We would like to, on the International Day of the Coconut on September 2, have a festival, making Seychelles the third country in the world after India and the Philippines to do that. We will have several competitions, de-husking, coconuts, grating coconuts, who can climb a coconut tree and reach the highest as well as felling the most coconuts,” added D’Offay.
CSA hopes to host this festival as an international event where other countries can attend and compete.
The Mize Koko is based at Domaine Val de Pres at Au Cap on the east of the main island of Mahe. The museum is located in the same location as a similar museum which closed down some 20 years ago.
In the early 1960s, Seychelles was producing some 45,000 tonnes of coconut turned into copra and oil to export to Europe as well as some Asian countries including India.
But today most of the plantations have been cleared making way for many infrastructure developments, mainly houses and tourism establishments.
But the crucial and vital role that the plantation era played in the Seychelles, before tourism is not forgotten. In recent years there has been an effort to revive the plantation, for instance, on Coetivity island, where cold pressed coconut oil is the main product.