The 2014 edition of the Francophonie Festival in the Seychelles, from 20 to 24 March, was a big success.
The opening ceremony was held at the Victoria International Conference Centre on 20 March. Attending were notably M. Danny Faure, vice president of the Republic of Seychelles, M. Vincent Mériton, the Minister of State, the Minister of Sports, Community development and Youth, M. Jean-Paul Adam, the Minister for Foreign Affairs and president of the National Francophonie Commission, M. Alain Saint-Ange, Minister of Tourism and Culture and vice president of the National Francophonie Commission, Mme Macsuzy Mondon, Minister of Education, and M. Rolph Payet, Minister of the Environment and Energy, in addition to Mme Geneviève Iancu, French ambassador to the Seychelles.
President James Alix Michel praised the organisation of a festival “increasingly rich in activities”, reminding the audience that “the signing of a linguistic pact” had “reflected (…) the government’s will to value the French language”. The head of Seychellois diplomacy underlined the importance of this event, saying that it was “one of the major events in the Seychelles’ events calendar”. A conference with the theme of “French teaching in the Seychelles – challenges and perspectives” was organised by the Minister of Education, with the Ministers of Education and Foreign Affairs, the French ambassador to the Seychelles attending, alongside French teachers and students.
The 21 March was devoted to “France, in Francophonie in the Seychelles”, on the initiative of the Minister of Tourism and Culture, M. Alain Saint-Ange, who wished to pay homage to one of the five pillars of Seychellois society. Following on from India (October 2013) and China (January 2014), France was also publicly honoured, while Great Britain and Africa will follow later on in the year.
For the occasion, the ambassador organised a buffet lunch in the Victoria Botanical Gardens. The event comprised many elements – the presentation of the insignia of arts and letters to M. Joe Samy, renowned Seychellois artist, a performance from the Ecole française choir, mini guitar concert by the Conservatory of music and Seychellois dance and theatre. Mme the ambassador also wished to plant a tree (rosewood), commonplace in the Seychelles and Réunion, 21 March being the ideal time, since it was World Forestry Day. This species is one of the 10,000 trees planted by the French Agricultural Research Centre for International Development (CIRAD) from Réunion to the Seychelles.
Wishing to pay tribute both to French artistic creation and the defence of the marine environment, Mme the ambassador organised a projection of the film “Océans” by MM. Jacques Perrin et Jacques Cluzaud. Four ministers attended, showing great interest. A second screening gave children and teenagers the opportunity to see this magnificent documentary, which is still relevant.
Seychelles Alliance française: 22 March was devoted to the inauguration of the Alliance française Victoria branch in Baie Sainte-Anne, Praslin, in the premises of “Vijay International School”.
Throughout the day, activities (painting, photography, various games) put on by the Minister of Tourism and Culture were held in the Natural Culture Centre, followed by a musical show. At the same time, the Francophonie Race took place. This was a flagship event of the Francophonie Festival, in which approximately three hundred people took part, children and adults alike, including children from the Ecole française, over a route of one, five or ten kilometres.