Story of Kenyan Woman Who Made History in Seychelles

  • The late Rita Sinon (left) and her husband Guy Sinon.
    The late Rita Sinon (left) and her husband Guy Sinon.
  • For decades now, Kenyans have often shone brighter both domestically and internationally in whichever industry they happen to work in.

    From athletes to movie stars and philanthropists, Kenya has often been regarded as a hotbed of talent exports dating as far back as the 20th Century.

    For instance, in 1986, at the age of 43, Kenyan-born Rita Sinon made history in Seychelles when she was appointed as the first female Cabinet Minister. 

    Born in Kenya in 1943, Rita was the descendant of a Seychellois mother and a Kenyan father.

    The late Rita Sinon who was the first Female Minister in Seychelles
    The late Rita Sinon who was the first Female Minister in Seychelles.
    Peter Sinon

    In the 1960s, she met Guy Sinon, her future husband and a Seychellois who had come to Kenya to study the trade union movement. She followed her husband back to the island nation and joined politics in 1970, where she led the Women’s League at its inception.

    During her tenure in the Seychelles political scene, she worked closely with France-Albert René who was the second President of the country. Rita was also close with Sylvette Frichot, a politician in the then relatively young country. As a minister, she headed the Ministry of Internal Affairs. 

    Rita's husband served as the Minister for Foreign Affairs between 1977 and 1979. Their son, Peter Sinon, who was born in 1966, also served as a Minister of Investment, Natural Resources, and Industry from 2010 to 2015.

    In an interview with a Seychellois publication, Peter attributed his success to his upbringing noting that his mother had a very big influence during his formative years.

    "I was introduced to this great continent at a very young age. My mum hailed from Kenya where dad, Guy Sinon, went in search of better job opportunities that were not available in Seychelles in the early and mid-60s.

    "My principles have been nurtured to full maturity by Guy and Rita Sinon (his parents). They implanted in me the belief in myself and the Seychellois people," he stated in an interview.

    Rita succeeded in the country despite the 1981 Seychelles coup d'état attempt on her close confidant France-Albert René who was President at the time.

    The coup was reportedly initiated by South Africa and was supported by some prominent Kenya politicians including Charles Njonjo and then-Police Commissioner Ben Gethi among others. A plane had been chartered to transport the coup plotters from Mombasa to Seychelles - but the plan never materialised.

    The two leaders were sacked the following year after embarrassing the then President Daniel Moi who did not know about the coup plans.

    Since then, the two countries have improved their bilateral trade with a visit in 2017 of the then Seychelles President Danny Faure who flew to Kenya to meet Uhuru Kenyatta. The two signed a number of agreements.

    Former Sychellois Minister Peter Sinon
    Former Sychellois Minister Peter Sinon.
    Peter Sinon