Dr Maxime Ferrari, born on 27th of January 1930, died on the 29th of June 2021. He joined politics and the struggle for Seychellois independence in 1974 and soon became Vice-President of the Seychelles People’s Progressive Front (In Creole: Parti Lepep, PL). He held portfolios as Minister of Labour, of Agriculture, of Planning and of External Relations of Seychelles. He was for a long time the only obstetrician in Seychelles and personally told me how he was proud to have been responsible for the delivery of almost all the babies born during his time.
He was an ambassador for the Republic of the Seychelles at the Franco-African Summit in 1981. In 1983 he also represented the Seychelles at the Organisation of African Unity Summit in Addis Ababa, the Commonwealth Heads of State Meeting in New Delhi, and the United Nations General Assembly in New York. He was also heavily involved in the negotiations and signing of the Lomé Conventions.
On 5 June 1977, he was involved in the coup against the corrupt regime of the President of Seychelles James Mancham, led by Albert René. He is widely regarded as the man behind that coup d’état which removed President Mancham and installed the René regime. I have witnessed how he was an activist against corrupt governmental practices, a champion of human rights and democracy.
He is recognised as one of the Founders of the Commission de l’Océan Indien (Indian Ocean Commission), created to strengthen the relationship between the five Indian Ocean nations, namely Seychelles, Mauritius, Comoros, Madagascar and Réunion Island.
After differences with President René, Dr Maxime Ferrari left Seychelles in 1985 to take up work with the United Nations, as the Regional Representative and Director of the Regional Office for Africa of UNEP, the United Nations Environment Programme, world headquarters in Nairobi. A strong link of friendship and work was established between Maxime and Michael, two of UNEP’s Directors and both from small island states of the Indian Ocean.
In 1955 Maxime Ferrari married Ginette. He has five children, Marie-Antoinette, Cécile, Jean-François, Pauline, and André-Michel. His eldest son, Jean-François, is currently serving as a member of the National Assembly of Seychelles.
He identifies himself as a strong believer and was elected as the first president of the Union Chrétienne Seychelloise, an organisation designed to promote cultural, moral and Christian values.
In 1999, he published an autobiography, ‘Sunshine and Shadows, a Personal Story’. Being non grata in Seychelles he could not launch the book there. I personally organized that launch in Mauritius, in the presence of two of our ex-ministers of Foreign Affairs, Jean-Claude de L’Estrac and Anil Gayan.
I remember Maxime for his humour; even when chairing meetings at the UN, he never went without a side story to illustrate the work at hand. We collaborated closely in developing the Environmental Action Plan of Seychelles, hailed as one of the best! A patriot, he always defended his mother island and as Director for Africa, the preservation of the African environment and the rational use of the vast resources of the continent. He was very well seen and appreciated by African heads of states and was particularly effective in the setting up of the Nile Valley Agreement, the Indian Ocean Commission and several Environment set-ups of the OAU/AU.
Thank you Maxime for almost 70 years of devoted service to Africa and to the Indian Ocean Islands; as a medical practitioner, a political innovator and minister in government, as a completely clean politician, a real believer in democracy, as a successful United Nations administrator, a devoted father and friend.