James Mancham

Sir James Richard Marie Mancham KBE (11 August 1939 – 8 January 2017) was a Seychellois politician who founded the Seychelles Democratic Party and was the first President of Seychelles from 1976 to 1977.

James Mancham
James Mancham - Official Portrait.png
1st President of Seychelles
In office
29 June 1976 – 5 June 1977
Prime MinisterFrance-Albert René
Preceded byOffice established
Succeeded byFrance-Albert René
1st Prime Minister of Seychelles
In office
1 October 1975 – 28 June 1976
Preceded byOffice established
Succeeded byFrance-Albert René
Chief Minister of the Crown Colony of Seychelles
In office
12 November 1970 – 1 October 1975
Preceded byOffice established
Succeeded byOffice abolished
Personal details
James Richard Marie Mancham

(1939-08-11)11 August 1939
Victoria, British Seychelles
Died8 January 2017(2017-01-08) (aged 77)
Glacis, Seychelles
Political partySeychelles Democratic Party
Heather Jean Evans
(m. 1963; div. 1974)

Catherine Olsen
(m. 1985)
Sir James Mancham on obverse of the Seychellois rupee silver coin, 1977

Political careerEdit

James's father, Richard Mancham, a successful businessman, sent James to law school in England. When Britain announced its intention to give independence to the colony, Mancham founded the Democratic Party (S.D.P.), and served as its leader until February 2005.[1] France-Albert René founded an opposition party, the Seychelles People's United Party (S.P.U.P) with the support of the Soviet Union. As Chief Minister of the colony, Mancham promoted tourism to the Seychelles and arranged for the building of the airport that was to make the Seychelles accessible to the rest of the world. Tourism increased and the economy developed. In 1976, he won the popular vote when the British gave the Seychelles independence. Less than a year later, in June 1977, he was deposed in a coup by Prime Minister France-Albert René, who had the support of Tanzanian-trained revolutionaries and Tanzanian-supplied weapons, while Mancham was attending the 1977 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in London.

Mancham lived in exile in London until April 1992. During this period, Mancham was financially successful in several international business ventures[2] and married Catherine Olsen, an Australian journalist working in London.[3] When he returned to the Seychelles following the lifting of the ban on opposition, he resumed the promotion of tourism to the tropical islands.

He ran for president in July 1993 and finished second behind René with 36.72% of the vote. In March 1998, he ran again, receiving third place and 13.8% of the vote, behind René and Wavel Ramkalawan.[4]

Personal lifeEdit

Mancham was born into a wealthy family, the eldest son of Richard and Evelyn (née Tirant) Mancham. He had Chinese ancestry through his father and French ancestry through his mother.[5] He married Heather Jean Evans in 1963 and the marriage was dissolved in 1974. One daughter named Caroline and one son named Richard were born from the union.[6] In 1985, he married Australian journalist Catherine Olsen and had one son named Alexander.[3]

Mancham died suddenly on 8 January 2017 of a possible stroke at age 77.[7][8] He was buried in the State House cemetery next to Seychelles' last French Administrator, Jean-Baptiste Quéau de Quincy.[9]

Other activityEdit

Mancham was the author of a number of books, including Paradise Raped about the June 1977 coup d'état in the Seychelles, War on America: Seen from the Indian Ocean, written after the 11 September 2001 attacks on the United States, his autobiography; Seychelles Global Citizen: The Autobiography of the Founding President, in 2009,;[10] and Seychelles: The Saga of a Small Nation Navigating the Cross-Currents of a Big World, in 2015.[11] Mancham also served on the advisory board of International Journal on World Peace and was a member of the World Future Council.


Mancham received the 2010 International Jurist Award at the inauguration of the International Conference of Jurists at the Vigyan Bhawan, New Delhi, India. Under the theme International Terrorism, the event was jointly organised by the International Council of Jurists, the National Human Rights Commission of India, the All India Bar Association and Indian Council of Jurists. In a welcoming speech Dr. Adish Aggarwala, President of the International Council of Jurists and Chairman of All India Bar Association, said the award for Mancham was to recognise his role in promoting world peace and the pivotal part he played in helping to settle international disputes.

Mancham was also one of the recipients of the Gusi Peace Prize in 2011.[12]


  1. ^ "The Democratic Party - Peace, Progress, Prosperity". 16 August 2006. Archived from the original on 16 August 2006. Retrieved 25 June 2018.
  2. ^ "Sir James Richard Marie Mancham". Retrieved 27 December 2017.
  3. ^ a b "The life of Seychelles' founding president, James Mancham". Retrieved 27 December 2017.
  4. ^ "Elections in Seychelles". African Elections Database. 14 April 2004. Retrieved 28 June 2020.
  5. ^ Obituary: Sir James Mancham, deposed playboy president of Indian Ocean 'islands of love'
  6. ^ "Passing away of former President Sir James Mancham (KBE) - Archive - Seychelles Nation". Seychelles Nation.
  7. ^ Vannier, Rassin; Bonnelame, Betymie (8 January 2017). "Former Seychelles' president James Mancham dies at residence". Seychelles News Agency. Victoria, Seychelles. Retrieved 8 January 2017.
  8. ^ "Seychelles Founding President passed away". ETN Global Travel Industry News. 8 January 2017. Retrieved 8 January 2017.
  9. ^ "Nation Home". www.nation.sc. Retrieved 27 December 2017.
  10. ^ [1] Archived 5 April 2017 at the Wayback Machine, Paragon House, 2009.
  11. ^ [2] Archived 5 April 2017 at the Wayback Machine, Paragon House, 2015.
  12. ^ "Former Seychelles president to receive peace award". ETN Global Travel Industry News. 20 June 2011.
Political offices
Preceded by
post created
Prime Minister of Seychelles
Succeeded by
Preceded by
post created
President of Seychelles
Succeeded by