France pledges sup­port for Le­sotho

Lesotho Times - - News - Mo­halenyane Phakela

FRANCE’S am­bas­sador to South africa and le­sotho, Elisabeth Bar­bier, hosted be­lated Bastille Day com­mem­o­ra­tions on Mon­day at the res­i­dence of the Euro­pean Union am­bas­sador to le­sotho in Maseru.

Bastille Day is the name given in English-speak­ing coun­tries to the French Na­tional Day, which is cel­e­brated on 14 July each year. in France, it is for­mally called La Fête Na­tionale and com­monly re­ferred to as le Qu­a­torze Juil­let (the 14th of July).

Bastille Day com­mem­o­rates the 14 July 1789 storm­ing of the Bastille, a royal fortress that had come to sym­bol­ise tyranny. it was also the cul­mi­na­tion of a vi­o­lent revo­lu­tion in Paris that had be­gun two days ear­lier, as well as the Fête de la Fédéra­tion which cel­e­brated the unity of the French peo­ple on 14 July 1790. Bastille Day cel­e­bra­tions are held through­out France, as well as around the world, and are marked by mil­i­tary pa­rades, marches and fire­works.

It was the first time the event was held in le­sotho, with a host of se­nior gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials, diplo­mats, clergy and cap­tains of in­dus­try among those in at­ten­dance.

in her ad­dress, Ms Bar­bier said: “on this day, we celebrate the call for free­dom, but we also celebrate the unity of the French na­tion in mem­ory of the Fête de la Fédéra­tion held on 14 July 1790, for the first an­niver­sary of the day con­sid­ered the start of the French revo­lu­tion.

“to con­tinue on this his­toric note, i would like to re­mind you that the re­la­tion­ship be­tween France and le­sotho goes back to al­most as far as the French Revo­lu­tion. in­deed, it started with the sum­mon­ing of the first of three mis­sion­ar­ies of the Paris Evan­gel­i­cal Mis­sion by King Moshoeshoe i in 1833.

“through them, we were able to know Ba­sotho bet­ter, their fear­less fight for in­de­pen­dence, but also their warmth and hos­pi­tal­ity.”

Ms Bar­bier added the bonds be­tween the two coun­tries and peo­ple con­tinue to grow.

“i need not re­mind you that to­day, the most vis­i­ble French pres­ence here in Maseru is the al­liance Française, which has been in ex­is­tence since 1981,” said Ms Bar­bier.

“their Majesties, the King and Queen, are fre­quent guests at cul­tural events or­gan­ised by al­liance. We are very grate­ful for the con­tin­u­ous sup­port given to our cul­tural and lin­guis­tic ac­tiv­i­ties.

“Be­cause of those bonds be­tween our two coun­tries, i would like to ex­tend a mes­sage of friend­ship, re­spect and sol­i­dar­ity to the peo­ple of le­sotho. le­sotho has ex­pe­ri­enced trou­ble po­lit­i­cally of late and France re­mains com­mit­ted in as­sist­ing Ba­sotho on their way to rec­on­cil­i­a­tion, se­cu­rity and unity.”

on be­half of the gov­ern­ment, For­eign af­fairs and in­ter­na­tional Re­la­tions Min­is­ter tlo­hang Sekhamane lauded the French em­bassy for hold­ing Mon­day’s cel­e­bra­tions, adding such ac­tiv­i­ties would strengthen the al­ready es­tab­lished re­la­tions be­tween the two na­tions.

“this is a con­vinc­ing demon­stra­tion of the re­la­tions we have and fur­ther deep­ens the bond that Ba­sotho have with the French peo­ple,” he said.

“the two coun­tries have main­tained a cor­dial friend­ship un­til to­day, which le­sotho still ben­e­fits from through ini­tia­tives such as the Global Fund and Food Se­cu­rity Fund.

“France also con­trib­uted to le­sotho’s com­mit­ment to ed­u­ca­tion for all by in­tro­duc­ing their lan­guage in our sec­ondary schools, fur­ther pro­vid­ing our teach­ers with schol­ar­ships to master the lan­guage.”

From left: For­eign Af­fairs and In­ter­na­tional re­la­tions min­is­ter Tlo­hang Sekhamane chats with French Am­bas­sador to le­sotho and South Africa Elisabeth Bar­bier and Euro­pean union Am­bas­sador to le­sotho michael Doyle on mon­day.

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