‘At the age of four I felt the call to become a priest…’
Wavel Ramkalawan is one of the most distinguished individuals who has contributed many years of his career to making a difference in Seychelles.
It is his work as a pastor that led Wavel into politics. Through his pastoral work, he came into contact with many people who had been the subject of repression and abuse, especially during the one-party state.
At that time, the church was the only institution which could speak out on these issues.
Wavel is man with faith, determination and dedication and devoted himself to overcoming all obstacles in his path.
In our Up Close column today, Wavel talks about his childhood, pastor life and entry into politics.
Born on March 15, 1961 Wavel is the youngest in a family of three children. His father, Bathew Ramkalawan, was a tinsmith and his mother Eva Ramkalawan a head teacher.
Wavel is married to Linda Ramkalawan and they have three children – Samuel, Caleb and Amos.
“I did my primary, secondary and A-Level education at the Seychelles College, the elite boys’ school of the country at that time. My childhood was filled with joy and happiness.
I got the opportunity to live with my parents, who made me become the man I am today,” he says.
With proper guidance from his parents, Wavel managed to have a wonderful childhood.
“I was raised at St Louis by my parents; my mother was a head teacher of the Anglican School on Praslin and most of my vacation I went to Praslin with my mother. I had so many friends; it was a very happy childhood full of good memories. Growing up, my parents were devoted Christians, it was God before everything.”
Wavel was ordained priest in 1985 following theological studies at St Paul’s Theological College in Mauritius, and thereafter further studies in theology at Birmingham University. Returning to Seychelles, he worked in several parishes, rising to become priest-in-charge of the parish of Holy Saviour.
“I always knew what I wanted to do. At the age of four I was at Saint Matthew’s Church, Grand Anse Praslin when I felt the call to become a priest in that church. When I finished my A-level studies, I went straight to Theological College to follow my dream,” says Wavel.
Wavel has been a priest for the past 32 years and he is still preaching at St Luke’s Anglican Church at Bel Ombre, sharing the words of God and being a messenger of God.
Entry into politics
It was his work as a priest that led Wavel into politics. Through his pastoral work, he came into contact with many people who had been the subject of repression and whose human and civil liberties had been abused. At that time, the church was the only institution which could speak out on these issues.
Alleged to have preached a landmark sermon in 1990, which was broadcast on national radio and in which he took the government to task, Wavel teamed up with several others who were opposed to the one-party system in 1991 to form Parti Seselwa.
“Being a politician was not a job I wanted to do, but seeing so many abuses while being a priest, I had to do something to change the abuses happening in Seychelles,” he says.
“Since last year, the political landscape of Seychelles has changed, we have a new concept of thinking, and people are starting to realise the true values of casting votes,” he says.
Albeit having two professions – being a politician and a priest – Wavel has always been very close to his wife and three sons.
In his spare time he likes snorkelling and hiking. He is also fascinated by astronomy.
“My family is very important for me, they come first before everything. With so many responsibilities on my plate, sometimes I have to sacrifice a lot, and don’t have enough time to spend with them. They hold a special place in my heart, and I am willing to give them all the support they need, and they are ready to give me all the support I need along my journey. My parents gave me faith ever since I was young, and through that I am sharing my experience with my own family. It is always important to have faith in life.”
Being a priest and a politician must be very hard to balance. How does Wavel manage to cope?
“Firstly, I am a messenger of God. Being a politician and a priest is to be a messenger for the people. Some people see it as a conflict, but I see it as a way to help people by being their messenger,” he says.
Source : Seychelles NATION