Fran­co­phone Day Cel­e­brated in Song

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL -

By Nasha Smith

March 20th ush­ered in La Journée In­ter­na­tional de la Fran­co­phonie and an­other cel­e­bra­tion hosted by The French Em­bassy, in col­lab­o­ra­tion with Al­liance Française de Sainte Lu­cie. The in­vite only guest list in­cluded Gover­nor Gen­eral, Dame Pear­lette Louisy; Sec­re­tary-Gen­eral of the Saint Lu­cia Na­tional Com­mis­sion for UNESCO, Mar­cia Sym­phorien; for­mer UNESCO rep­re­sen­ta­tive Lawrence Lau­rent; No­bel lau­re­ate Derek Wal­cott, am­bas­sadors from the diplo­matic corps and rep­re­sen­ta­tives from Guyane, Mar­tinique and Guade­loupe. Am­bas­sador of France to the OECS, Eric de La Mous­saye gra­ciously de­liv­ered his speech in both English and his na­tive tongue, as he stated the im­pact of the French lan­guage on the world.

“It is in­deed im­por­tant to pro­mote the French lan­guage, the fifth most spo­ken of the five con­ti­nents, the third lan­guage of busi­ness in­ter­na­tion­ally with more than 250 mil­lion speak­ers to­day and prob­a­bly five hun­dred mil­lion to­mor­row.”

But as the am­bas­sador ex­plained, the con­cept of Fran­co­phonie is not limited to all things lin­guis­tic. “Fran­co­phonie is also val­ues re­lated to hu­man­ist, gen­eros­ity, democ­racy, re­spect of the di­ver­sity of cul­tures, re­li­gions and even each other’s lan­guage. This is the rea­son why we are happy to ex­change on th­ese is­sues with other non French speak­ing coun­tries which in St Lu­cia are largely in the ma­jor­ity. De­spite our lan­guage dif­fer­ences, we agree on the es­sen­tial val­ues that I just men­tioned and it is a real plea­sure for me to work ev­ery­day with the rep­re­sen­ta­tive of English, Por­tuguese or Span­ish speak­ing coun­tries that I wish to meet and thank for their pres­ence here tonight with us.”

De la Mous­saye ex­pressed his ap­pre­ci­a­tion to the coun­try for their sup­port af­ter the Jan­uary 7th attack at the of­fices of news­pa­per Char­lie Hebdo in Paris, France which left 12 peo­ple dead.

“This year the Fran­co­phonie and its val­ues made the news. First with the demon­stra­tion of sol­i­dar­ity that has risen world­wide in Jan­uary fol­low­ing the at­tacks that blood­ied Paris for rea­sons re­lat­ing to one of the most pre­cious val­ues of the Fran­co­phonie, namely that of free­dom of ex­pres­sion. I thank all those in St Lu­cia who showed their sup­port, in their own spe­cial way, in the name of their coun­try or in their own name.”

Not to be out­done the Gover­nor Gen­eral showed her bilin­gual chops, also ad­dress­ing the crowd in both lan­guages. Louisy high­lighted the long­stand­ing re­la­tion­ship be­tween the Fran­co­phone cul­ture and St Lu­cia.

“As you, and per­haps I should not pre­sume that every­body knows, that this fes­ti­val was cre­ated in 1988 so that states and gov­ern­ments of the or­ga­ni­za­tion could cel­e­brate what we have in com­mon; that is the French lan­guage. But also to cel­e­brate our di­ver­sity, both lin­guis­tic and cul­tural. St Lu­cia was al­ready a mem­ber of the Fran­co­phonie when this par­tic­u­lar fes­ti­val was es­tab­lished and we have al­ways tried to par­tic­i­pate in th­ese cel­e­bra­tions. We have al­ways tried to find ways on this par­tic­u­lar oc­ca­sion to ex­press our sol­i­dar­ity with the Fran­co­phone world in all its dif­fer­ences and its di­ver­sity. For us here in St Lu­cia when the French eludes us, there is also the cre­ole or for some of us there is al­ways the ‘Frenglish’.”

The evening con­cluded with a mini con­cert from one of Mar­tinique’s pre­mier singer-song­writ­ers, E.SY Ken­nenga fol­lowed by a cock­tail.

Mar­tinique’s E.SY Ken­nenga per­formed sev­eral of his

hit songs.

No­bel Lau­re­ate Derek Wal­cott (l) meets Bruno Sté­fani, direc­tor of Al­liance Française de Sainte-Lu­cie.

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