Michel earns his leadership everyday

It would take weeks, months and possibly years to write just a summary of the life of President James Michel and in fact, it is just what I will be attempting to do in this profile.
 
Probably not even the first black American President Barrack Obama has had such a tough upbringing like President Michel who recalls walking barefoot along the sandy beach of Anse à la Mouche on Mahe’s sweet coast. In his book entitled ‘A Man of the People’, President Michel retraces his childhood, school days, first job as a teacher, involvement in the trade union, work as a journalist and responsibilities as a government minister.
Born on the afternoon of August 16, 1944 at the Victoria Hospital, President Michel experienced firsthand the crucial effects of discrimination and feelings of superiority amongst elite, based on nothing more than one’s racial origins and accumulated wealth.
 
Humble beginings...
The first child, he was adopted by an aunt. At Anse Boileau he went to the then St Mary’s primary school before continuing his secondary education at Mont Fleuri Junior Secondary School. He felt the injustice of the educational system of the day when he was barred from attending Seychelles College.

It is for this reason that he worked hard at school and “from the outset,” he said, “I could see suffering around me and I would spend much of my future life doing my best to spare future generations the similar ordeals”. This is probably what prompted him to join politics as at the time of his birth he writes Seychelles was “caught up in a war that spread like a bush across all continents.”

Although he was schooled in a rudimentary system of education riddled with privilege and discrimination, he is thankful to the Catholic Church whom he said played an important role in “providing opportunities”. And this opportunity he used so well as he had extraordinary intellectual abilities in his favourite subjects – literature, poetry, history and geography – he worked hard, learnt large tracts of text by heart, and as a result earned himself rave reviews as his name was called out first as the top of the class at the annual roll-out.
His colleagues described him as a quiet but very intelligent student.
 
Joining the Modern School and not the Seychelles College, he felt a great injustice was done and it proved to be the defining moment of his life as he decided to join politics to fight for a fairer society where people would no longer be disadvantaged on grounds of their racial or economic background.  After completing his one year course at the then Teacher Training College in 1961, President Michel taught for a while at the Anse Boileau school before joining the prestigious company, Cable & Wireless, and later Hotel des Seychelles as an accountant and progressed to become a manager in 1973. People who have known him say that although he changed jobs deep down he has always remained a teacher. They point to the fact that he always tries to explain things and his conviction that if things are explained to them people always understand.
 
It was when he was at Cable & Wireless that Mr. Michel became involved in politics with the Seychelles People’s United Party (SPUP) and this brought him to perform some journalism work with the party’s People newspaper.
He described his entry into politics in 1974 as “less by design than circumstances”.

“As a result of my own experience while I was growing up and as a young man in the world of work, I was incensed by the injustice of the nature of government and society that prevailed. It seemed only natural to me to devote myself to doing something about it. Politics provided me that means and France Albert Rene gave me the opportunity to take my next step,” remarked Mr. Michel in his book.