1st Edition

René and Postcolonial Seychelles An African Chameleon in the Indian Ocean

By Ashton Robinson Copyright 2023
    250 Pages 10 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    250 Pages 10 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Robinson details the life and times of France-Albert René (1935–2019), the second post-independence leader of Seychelles who oversaw the nation’s transition to democracy after over a decade of his brutal dictatorship.

    René’s career was Seychelles’ history over the forty-three years from independence in 1976 until his peaceful death. Having seized power in a violent coup he presented himself as a socialist in the Cold War but transitioned to build Africa’s most successful relationship with international lenders and developed Seychelles as a major offshore tax haven. He also sustained and cultivated Seychelles’ position as a Western tourism-based economy. Robinson outlines not only René’s use of political violence and extrajudicial killing but also his unique relationship with transnational, organised crime including his links with the New York mafia, Italian organised crime interests and even helping to arm the Rwandan genocide. Nevertheless, René – a white leader of an African nation – avoided the self-isolation of Rhodesia and South Africa; endowed racial harmony; enabled women to advance politically and socially; and left Seychelles with high incomes, currency convertibility, and robust human and physical infrastructure.

    This is an essential read for anyone with an interest in the history of Seychelles, which will also be of great value to scholars of postcolonial states, African studies, microstates and the Indian Ocean region.

    List of images



    Abbreviations used in the text


    1 Prelude to the Seychelles of René

    2 Conceived in isolation

    3 Less than innocent abroad

    4 London and the bank

    5 Towards Seychelles independence

    6 The coalition and the republic

    7 The coup

    8 Assembling the apparatus of oppression

    9 The campaign against the opposition

    10 Death in London

    11 Developing the new state

    12 Strange friends in New York, Rome and Rwanda

    13 Perplexed friends and unfussed enemies in the Cold War

    14 1989 and all that

    15 The new economy

    16 Mastering democracy

    17 Leaving on his own terms

    18 The character of René





    Ashton Robinson is Honorary Fellow in the School of Social and Political Sciences at the University of Melbourne, Australia.