Gbenga Oluboye

Gbenga Oluboye

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Silhouette is the third-largest granitic island of Seychelles -- an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean.

The island lies 20 km northwest of Mahe -- the main island -- and is accessible by boat and helicopter. 

This week’s buzz brings you 10 amazing things which set the island’s resort -- Hilton Seychelles Labriz Resort and Spa opened in 2011 -- apart from other island resorts.


A protected area and nature reserve

With its land area of 20 square kilometres, Silhouette is a nature reserve and protected area. The island's surrounding waters were declared a Marine National Park in 1987. In 2010, Silhouette National Park was created, protecting 93 percent of the landmass.

(Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY


Home to the critically endangered Seychelles sheath-tailed bat

The island is one of the richest biodiversity points in the western Indian Ocean with many endemic and threatened plant and animal species. Among the most important is the critically endangered Seychelles sheath-tailed bat. Three roosting caves have been located and 32 bats recorded.

(Island Conservation Society) Photo License: CC-BY


Forest of endemic plants

Most of the 75 or so endemic plants of the granitic islands of Seychelles are found on Silhouette, some of them unique to the island. One of the rarest of these is the critically endangered impatiens gordonii a white-flowered relative of the well-known garden plant Busy Lizzie, only ever recorded on Mahe and Silhouette.

(Salifa Karapetyan, Seychelles News Agency)  Photo License: CC-BY


Seychelles’ second highest peak

Silhouette is mountainous with five peaks over 500 metres (1,600 ft) in elevation. These include Mont Dauban 751 metres (2,464 ft) which is the second-highest mountain of Seychelles.  Mont Dauban is named after the Dauban family, who owned the island until 1960.

(Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY


An Important Bird Area

The whole of Silhouette has been classified as an Important Bird Area, mainly because of the population of 10-20 pairs of Seychelles kestrel. Other land birds include three more endemic ones -- Seychelles blue pigeon, Seychelles bulbul and Seychelles sunbird.

(Maureen Leong-Kee - Wikipedia) Photo License: CC BY-SA 2.0


The French connection

In 1771 Charles Oger took possession of the island which was named after Etienne de Silhouette, who was the controller general of finances in France in the reign of Louis XV.  Until 1960, the island was owned by the Dauban family, who were originally from France but had settled in Mauritius in 1830. A number of them lived on the island including Auguste Dauban, Joseph Francois Dauban, Edouard Dauban and Charles Dauban. The Dauban era came to an end when Henri Dauban sold the island to a French group in 1960. There is a family mausoleum built in the style of La Madeleine in Paris, Église de la Madeleine.

(Dauban Family Foundation)  Photo License: CC-BY 


Resting place for Arab seafarers

The island is rumoured to be the resting place of several Arab seafarers, leading to one of the beaches being named ‘Anse Lascars’, the Creole name referring to Arabs. Not a far-fetched idea when one realises that pirates once roamed this part of the Indian Ocean.

(Gerard Larose) Photo License: CC-BY


158-year-old Grann Kaz

The Dauban plantation house - also known as Grann Kaz - was built by Auguste Dauban in 1860. The 158-year-old testimony of the “Grand Blanc” era now stands as a Creole restaurant managed by the island’s only hotel, Hilton Silhouette Labriz. The upstairs is used as a museum tracing the Daubans’ arrival to the island to the death of Henri Dauban, the last heir to live on the island. A few items of furniture left behind by the family after the island was sold to the Seychelles Government can also be seen in the museum.

(Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY 


A hideaway for marrons

It was believed that in 1800, slaves who escaped – also known as marrons - the plantations of their owners on Mahe created a new life for themselves on Silhouette, becoming the island’s first permanent inhabitants. One of these marrons, by the name of Domingue, also known as Machabee, became a legend amongst the unhappy slaves of Seychelles.

His name is commemorated in a place on Mahe, and the name of a river on Silhouette. In the early years of settlement, Machabee escaped to Silhouette with two companions. While the two others were caught Machabee could not be caught and it is believed he settled down to a relatively peaceful life on Silhouette.

(Joe Laurence, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY


Hidden treasure, waiting to be discovered

Another popular legend is that Silhouette is one of the possible resting-places of a substantial treasure hidden by Jean-Francois Hodoul, a former French captain turned wealthy businessmen who lived the latter days of his life on Mahe, the most-populated island of the archipelago.

At least four people have died after a university bridge collapsed just days after it was installed in Florida.

Firefighters continue to comb through the wreckage in Miami and fear the death toll will increase significantly.

The £8million pedestrian bridge was opened last Saturday to make it safer for students to cross a busy, eight-lane highway to Florida International University.

It was installed in just six hours using a revolutionary method called Accelerated Bridge Construction which aimed to keep disruption to traffic to a minimum.

The bridge was intended to withstand a Category 5 hurricane and stand for 100 years.

But now the firms behind the design and construction face a potentially criminal investigation.

Police have said multiple people have died (Image: Twitter)

The bridge collapsed as around eight cars were waiting at a red light underneath.

Unconfirmed reports suggest as many as ten people have died and eight have been hospitalised.

Emergency personnel with sniffer dogs searched for signs of life amid the wreckage and twisted metal that rained from the collapsed structure and crushed vehicles on one of the busiest roads in South Florida.

The foot bridge collapsed at around 1:30pm local time, according to the Miami Herald.

Police have ordered helicopters away from the scene as the whirring of their blades were making it impossible to hear survivors in the rubble.

Specialist listening equipment is being used to listen for survivors who could be trapped beneath tons of debris.

"We're working our way into the pile trying to create holes that we can actually physically see," Miami-Dade Fire Department Division Chief Paul Estopian told reporters.

Witness Tiona Page told ABC News that the screams coming from the cars were "terrifying."

"As soon as I looked outside, I saw dust flying everywhere," she said. "I knew the bridge had collapsed."

Local media are reporting police sources talking about "mass casualties" as emergency services rushed to the scene.

Heartbreaking video has emerged of nurses and doctors responding to the incident as police call in extra medics.

Construction workers on the scene told a reporter from the Miami Herald that the cause was likely to be an “engineering failure.”

Donald Trump's Press Secretary Sarah Huckbee Sanders said the president is "aware" of the deadly pedestrian bridge collapse at the Florida International University campus in Miami, and will "offer whatever support is needed" to local officials.

At least eight people had been transported to the trauma center at Kendall Regional Medical Center, according to local media.

The condition of the patients is not yet known.

The bridge was designed to withstand a Category 5 hurricane, the most dangerous measure by the US National Hurricane Center, and built to last 100 years, the university said.

The walkway has not yet been opened to the public, with locals expecting it to open in the coming days.

It crossed Southwest 8th Street near 109th Avenue in the city.

Journalists at the scene have been asked to move away by the police who've told them they are worried "the rest may fall down".

The bridge was the built next to the road and then rolled into place in one piece, being the largest bridge ever built this way in the US.

Pedestrians are reportedly trapped under the bridge
The bridge weighed 950 tons

The $11 million project aimed to connect the university with a nearby new housing development.

The 950-ton span was installed on Saturday with the main part of the 174-foot span was assembled by the side of the road while support towers were built at either end.

University management previously paid tribute to the construction method - claiming it was safer.

“FIU is about building bridges and student safety. This project accomplishes our mission beautifully,” said FIU President Mark B. Rosenberg.

"Using an innovative approach to bridge construction, the main span, which weighs 950 tons, was built next to Southwest 8th Street.

"This technique reduced potential risks to workers, commuters and pedestrians and prevented traffic tie-ups in the area"

In a statement, the university said it was "shocked and saddened about the tragic events unfolding on campus."

"At this time we are still involved in rescue efforts and gathering information," the university said. "We are working closely with authorities and first responders on the scene."

Florida Governor Rick Scott tweeted that he was aware of the collapse and that he would be in "constant communication" with law enforcement throughout the day.

International Relations and Cooperation Minister Lindiwe Sisulu on Thursday issued a diplomatic démarche to the Australian High Commissioner to South Africa, Adam McCarthy.

Governments use démarches to protest or object to actions by a foreign government.

As such Minister Sisulu has demanded a retraction of the comments made by Australia’s Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton on the South African land redistribution process.

Media reports reported that Dutton said they are exploring how to bring white South African farmers to Australia on humanitarian grounds due to the land redistribution process and the violence on farms, which they say is racially charged.

He was quoted as saying that South African farmers require “special attention” as they’re being persecuted. He added that white farmers should receive fast-tracked humanitarian visas from a “civilised country” like Australia.

Ministerial spokesperson Ndivhuwo Mabaya said: “It was communicated to the High Commissioner that the South African government is offended by the statements which have been attributed to the Australian Home Affairs Minister and a full retraction is expected”.

The high commissioner, who was accompanied by his deputy, undertook to immediately communicate with their government to convey the message from the Minister and South African government.

A local company that will partake in the Department of Trade and Industry’s trade and investment mission to Ghana and Nigeria is keen to seek new markets on the continent.

Isivuvu Technical Solutions is among the companies that will participate in the department’s Outward Trade and Investment Mission to Ghana and Nigeria. It will get underway next week.

Nhlanhla Maphalala, the Managing Director of the Gauteng-based civil engineering and multi-disciplinary service company in the built environment, said the mission will grant his company an opportunity to take advantage of trade and investment opportunities available in Ghana and Nigeria.

He said his company wants to play a role in the expansion and delivery of electricity in Africa.

“Most power and electricity transmission infrastructure in Africa presently operates at a fraction of installed capacity, owing to insufficient maintenance and lack of modernisation. Across the continent, infrastructure such as power plants and transmission lines is either disrupted, damaged or non-existent. However, investment in energy infrastructure is critical to the continent reaching its economic potential and exploiting its current growth trend.

“We have learnt that there are numerous infrastructure development projects in Ghana and Nigeria and our main objective of travelling there is to explore possibilities of participating in these projects and penetrate the West African region through these two strategic countries,” said Maphalala on Thursday.

 Maphalala is of the view that participating in the mission will afford his company an advantage for extensive data collection of generation capacity and transmission networks. It will also help assess the demand and supply balance.

“We need to align ourselves regionally. Regional integration needs to be looked at right down to the consumer level. The introduction of cross border projects can provide great economies of scale to the African continent. Critical infrastructure changes the economy from an employment perspective, and a key enabler and the rest follows,” said Maphalala.


Identifying export markets

The Outward Trade and Investment Mission to the two African countries forms part of the Department of the Trade and Industry’s objective to identify and create export markets for South African value-added products and services.

Minister Rob Davies says South Africa has prioritised Ghana and Nigeria as part of the country’s integrated national export strategy.

“We have prioritised engagements with these two strategic markets as part of our integrated national export strategy aimed at developing new markets for South Africa’s value-added and manufactured goods, and services with an emphasis on Africa and emerging markets. Furthermore, the mission is in line with the dti’s outcome-oriented goal of building mutually beneficial regional and global relations, in order to advance South Africa’s trade, industrial policy and economic development objectives,” said Minister Davies

The investment mission will also serve to promote South African products and services, while creating opportunities for business partnerships between business communities of the respective countries.

Minister Davies added that the mission will also create a platform to facilitate networking and the obtaining of information on the dynamics of the industries, as well as availability of partnership opportunities in both Ghana and Nigeria.

The total value of trade between South Africa and Ghana for 2017 amounted to R5.5 billion, while with Nigeria for the same year it amounted to R28.5 billion.

Sectors targeted for the mission are agro-processing and agribusiness, furniture and wood processing, infrastructure as well as the built environment professionals. The programme for the mission will include trade and investment seminars, site visits and business-to-business meetings.

The trade mission will run from 19 – 23 March.

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