Remembering Olsen Vidot: former politician and architect of modern local government in Seychelles

Seychellois Olsen Vidot, a former politician credited for spearheading community groups for senior citizens, people with disabilities, and children, was laid to rest on Saturday. Vidot, aged 68, passed away earlier this week. He is survived by his wife Jeanne D’Arc, and daughter Elsia.

His funeral service was held at the Our Lady of Seven Sorrows Church at Anse Boileau – his native district in the west of the main island of Mahe.

Vidot worked for 35 years in public services until 2012, when he resigned from the government as the then principal secretary for Community Development, a post he held since 2004. During his career in the government, Vidot served in several positions in youth, sports, and community development.

As a politician, Vidot had different responsibilities with the People’s Party (Parti Lepep), including being a member of parliament and the party’s chief executive.

On Tuesday, the Speaker of the National Assembly, Roger Mancienne, on behalf of the National Assembly, expressed his condolences to Vidot’s family and members of the United Seychelles party (formerly Parti Lepep).

The two leaders of the National Assembly – the leader of government business- Bernard Georges, and the opposition leader, Sebastien Pillay, also paid tribute to Vidot, whom they described as an important politician and a disciplined man.

In a press communique, the president of the United Seychelles, Patrick Herminie, also paid his respects to the politician – one of the first members to be elected in the People’s Assembly, who was still active in the party until his death.

Within the party, he served as secretary general, a member of the central committee, and branch chairperson for several years, and had other leadership responsibilities at the district level, where he still played an active role despite his illness.

“Mr. Vidot will be remembered as a person who was disciplined and serious in his work, and during his leisure time, he was friendly and liked cracking jokes. A worker, a hardworking father, a politician who put his party’s principles first,” said Herminie.

Herminie added: “We thank him for all his remarkable contributions to the country, his district, Anse Boileau, and our party, the United Seychelles. I join the Anse Boileau residents, especially the Branch committee, members, and supporters of United Seychelles, to sympathise with his family.”

Even though Vidot was active in politics, it was his work in community, youth, and sports development that has made an impact and where he has left his mark.

Father Daniel Kallee, the CEO of the Seychelles Home Care Agency, used to work with Vidot when he joined the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports in 1999. They worked closely together when Kallee was a programme development officer and later as director for the community life programmes until December 2010.

“Mr. Olsen Vidot was committed to serving the community in Seychelles, and over the years, he proved himself to be proficient in taking the leadership for the development of the local community. He was passionate about empowering the inhabitants to take ownership of the affairs of the district,” Kallee told SNA on Thursday.

According to Kallee, from the early 90s, he was a leader and championed the cause of the decentralisation of government services to the community. The District Administration’s offices were given another mission and role in the districts, and he spearheaded the development of the community life programmes.

“Mr. Vidot raised and trained leaders while inspiring many to take a leadership role in the country. For many years, he was a leading figure in advocating for children and youth development through many programmes. He is the architect of the “modern local government in Seychelles, a friendly and devoted person, and has displayed profound human values and excellent leadership qualities,” he added.

Kallee noted that Vidot was instrumental in the planning and implementation of several development projects on Mahe, Praslin, and La Digue – the three main islands of the Seychelles archipelago in the western Indian Ocean.

“With his academic background in Youth Development and a deep sense of professionalism, he left behind many of us with a strong flair for a vibrant community where all, from the younger to the older, find peace and happiness to live in harmony despite our differences of opinion and belief. Unreservedly, he worked for the people of Seychelles,” concluded Kallee.

Sylvianne Lemiel, the United Seychelles member of the National Assembly for Anse Royale, recounted to SNA the 23 years that she has known Vidot ever since she started to work with local government in 2000, during which she assumed many positions from that of district administrator to director general until she was elected as a member of the parliament.

Father Kallee said Vidot was committed to serving the community in Seychelles. (United Seychelles) Photo License: CC-BY

Lemiel said that his confidence in her ability as a district administrator and his support for the work being done to improve community life has marked her.

“Programmes such as the senior citizens’ clubs, special programmes for families and the disabled, and more importantly, the NRA (Neighbourhood Recreational Activities) for children were done under his leadership. The NRA bloomed, becoming very popular, and was successful, where we had many activities and festivals for children at the district and regional level. These were successful thanks to the efforts and interest of Mr. Vidot,” said

Lemiel added that clubs such as the senior citizens were extremely popular and that, at that time, the Anse Royale club boasted 150 members.

The former district administrator said that Vidot worked to bridge the community gaps. He tried to do that by initiating different programmes, where the younger and older generations could meet and have exchanges, especially where the traditions of the island nation were concerned.

Lemiel explained that under Vidot’s leadership, the operations and the way the district administration functioned were improved as Vidot had a great love for community life. “He was a dynamic and on-the-move kind of a person. He brought all of us district administrators to work together as a team. He was always in consultation with us; when we had problems, he was always ready to listen to us; when there were difficulties, he was ready to invest, especially in community life programmes and projects, both dear to him.”

Lemiel said his ‘open door’ policy and encouragement pushed many district administrators to deliver more efficiently in their communities.

One person who knew Vidot way back since his college days is Andre Pool, also a former parliamentarian. Pool, who also hails from Anse Boileau, remained a close friend until the death of Vidot. Pool recalled that Vidot was a keen athlete who initiated many sports clubs in the district, such as hockey, athletics, and volleyball. Vidot also played volleyball and was very good at it, not surprisingly due to his superior height.

He passed on his love for the sport to his daughter, Elsia, who is also a volleyball player. The former politician also played table tennis, sharing many matches with Pool, though according to Pool, not all games ended on a friendly note.

Another of his passions was agriculture, where he once owned a farm, which he later sold. Lately, Vidot had taken up planting rare local fruits, which could be found at his residence.

Having been a close friend to Vidot for 40 years, Pool said that despite being jovial and loving a good joke, Vidot was not one to walk away from a fight, not afraid to throw a punch or two, and quick to not only end a fight but was known to send his opponent to the ground.

“He was overall a jovial person, and we had shared many good memories and life journeys where we more or less accompanied each other. He was very active, and community life was always his priority,” added Pool, who said his good friend’s passing deeply saddens him.

Vidot was instrumental in the setting up of the National Youth Service (NYS), which opened on March 1, 1981, for teenagers. NYS ceased its operations altogether in 1998.

Source: Seychelles News Agency

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