Discours du Consul à l’occasion du 14 Juillet 2012
Minister Pallo Jordan,
Members of Parliament,
Mr Deputy-mayor and Members of Cape Town Mayoral Committee,
MECs and dignitaries of the Western Cape Government,
M. le Vice-Président du Conseil régional de Rhone-Alpes,
Members of the South African Defense Forces,
Dear Colleagues of the Consular Corps,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Mes chers compatriotes, Chers amis,
Bonsoir, Good evening,
It is a great pleasure for me and my wife Patricia to welcome you all to this Bastille Day 2012 in Cape Town.
Once again the French community and the South-African Friends of France are gathered to celebrate France’s national Day and the values of France – Freedom, Equality and Brotherhood. For this celebration we always like to have a big party. And it looks like this event is becoming popular in Cape Town because every year I see more people attending. Actually, this year we will give a special twist to this celebration as we also celebrate French culture with the opening of the French Season in South Africa.
I will come back to that ; But first of all I want to thank the people who made this event possible.
I will start with our host tonight : the City of Cape Town. Mr Deputy Mayor and Councillors of the City of Cape Town, in particular Mr Grant Pascoe, we are proud citizens of your City and we really appreciate the efforts you made to, once again, accommodate our National day in this beautiful stadium of yours. This place is a fantastic asset for your City and we are very happy to be here tonight.
I also want to acknowledge my staff Catherine Flanigan who is the little magician working behind the scene to organize this evening.
When you see the size of this party, you may all ask yourself how this people can throw such a party while they are supposedly in dire financial straits ! Well….for that we have to thank our very dear sponsors. The several French and South African companies who came on board to support us to make this event memorable and –most important- make it open to everyone in the French community.
I will not mention them all because we have more than 20 sponsors. But I would like to cite in particular Soitec, Areva, EDF, SANOFI, Peugeot, Atout France, Total Gaz, Pernod-Ricard, Media 24 and Bisquit. Please, join me in a big round of applause to thank these companies and all the other sponsors who helped us organize this event.
Theses companies along with many other smaller French companies are part of Cape Town’s economy, investing, sharing knowledge, and creating jobs. And I am really glad to see that there is a steady increase of the French presence. I believe there is room for more and I ensure you we are committed to supporting every effort to develop this presence and the flow of trade between our countries.
The economy is a very important part of our bilateral relationship with Cape Town and with South Africa. But tonight I would like to focus more on a special project our two countries have launched for 2012 and 2013 : The reciprocal Seasons of France and South Africa.
The goal of these Seasons is to showcase the culture and the modernity of each country. So this year we will showcase France in South Africa and next year South Africa will go to France.
The Seasons are also about building long-term partnerships between artists, academics and institutions.
Last but not least, this is an exercise of people to people diplomacy and a celebration of the friendship between of two countries.
In total, there will be more than 100 events happening across the country until November. Cultural events will be the most numerous, but we will also have academic seminars, sciences exhibition and French products showcase.
Only here in Cape Town we will have about 20 events. We will give you a full program before you leave and I invite you to attend as many as possible. But I want to pinpoint a couple of events that are must-see :
Already opened and for only three months, we have Rendez-Vous 12, a unique exhibition of contemporary art at Iziko national gallery. We brought to Cape Town 20 of the best young artists from France, Europe, Asia, Africa and America. This is a collaboration with the Lyon Biennale and probably one of the most important shows of contemporary art in South Africa. So don’t miss it ;
Happening right now and until tomorrow only, we have the Bastille festival in Franschhoek. Asd you know they make they make great wines, but this year, thanks to a great collaboration with the Franschhoek wine valley, we are bringing some competition from France with 10 winemakers from the Rhone Valley. These French winemakers are here tonight with a delegation of officials from Rhone-Alpes. Unfortunately they didn’t bring their wines tonight. But you can still go and taste their beautiful wines tomorrow at Grande Provence in the French valley.
France would not be France without “le cinema”, so we will have a fantastic French film festival in early August at Cinema Nouveau in the Waterfront. 10 beautiful French movies, most of them will premiere in South Africa, so don’t miss them.
Cinema is key in France but literature is paramount, so we will have a great collaboration between the Open Book festival and the Etonnants Voyageurs festival of Saint-Malo. More than 10 French-speaking writers will be here for two days in September.
Animation movie will also be part of the Season in October with the second edition of Kunjanimation, an animation movie festival who will premiere some fantastic animation movie and also build bridges with the Festival of Annecy, the oldest animation movie festival in the world.
Music will be a big part of this Season in Cape Town. We already had two concerts and the Fête de la Musique in June. But there is more to come with different type of musique : jazz, including probably the greatest French jazzman, M. Eric Truffaz, but also contemporary music, classical, and rock ! So for the music lovers, there is plenty of choice !
Last but not least, we will bring to Cape Town a real treasure. Very few of you have heard of François le Vaillant. He was a French explorer and a brilliant mind who came to the Cape in the late 18th century, just before the French revolution. He explored the coast and discovered plants, animals and people never heard before in Europe. So when he came back and wrote and showed his discoveries, his books became instant best-sellers and were translated into several languages. It is indeed through him that many Europeans got their first glimpse at Africa. The then King of France, Louis XVI, who I believe I saw around tonight, was so fond of Le Vaillant that he asked him to draw a map of this beautiful country he had explored. This map, the King’s map, is probably the most beautiful map of South Africa you will ever see. It was kept for years in the vaults of the French national Library. But for the French Season, we will show it for the first time to the public, right here, in Cape Town, at Iziko Natural History Museum, the home of the great naturalist that Le Vaillant was.
There will be more events, but I believe I talked enough for tonight, so I really invite you to keep posted not to miss any of these fantastic events.
To finish I would like to say a few words in French to my fellow citizens.
Mes chers compatriotes,
L’ampleur de cette Saison démontre l’importance et le caractère stratégique de notre relation avec l’Afrique du Sud, qui a été confirmé par le nouveau gouvernement.
Mme Conway, votre ministre, la nouvelle ministre déléguée chargée des Français de l’étranger était d’ailleurs hier à Pretoria et à Johannesburg pour rencontrer les autorités sud-africaines et ouvrir officiellement avec elles la Saison de la France en Afrique du Sud. D’autres visites ministérielles sont prévues dans le courant de l’année.
Cette Saison de la France est aussi pour vous. Et je vous invite à écouter, goûter, voir et découvrir ces talents de la France qui composeront la Saison et qui manifestent la qualité de notre culture, mais aussi la place que nous accordons à la culture comme moyen d’échange entre les peuples.
Ce rassemblement du 14 juillet est pour tous les Français un moment essentiel, celui où, au-delà de nos différences et de nos sensibilités, de nos origines ou de nos âges, nous nous retrouvons autour des valeurs de la République qui fondent notre pacte social. Et je suis très heureux de voir que vous êtes venus si nombreux pour ce moment de communion républicaine où nous célébrons nos valeurs, mais aussi, cette année, notre culture.
Merci encore à tous d’être venus si nombreux ce soir.
Vive la France !
Vive l’Afrique du Sud !
Et vive l’amitié franco-sud-africaine !
Avant que la fête commence, je vous invite à écouter les hymnes nationaux.