• Monday, April 22, 2024
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Language, culture on spotlight at International Day of La Francophonie


On March 20, 2024, the world joined 77 member states of the International Organization of La Francophonie to celebrate the Journée Internationale de la Francophonie, (the International Francophonie Day), which spotlights French language and Francophone culture across the world.

In Nigeria, (though an Anglophone country), there were many curated activities at the Alliance française de Lagos and Abuja to mark the event.

Read also: France commits to supporting French language in Lagos public schools

The Lagos event seemed more spectacular as The Alliance française de Lagos, in partnership with France, Canada and Switzerland, organised a free cinema programme to celebrate the occasion.

At the Alliance Française de Lagos / Mike Adenuga Centre, Ikoyi, venue of the Lagos event, the celebration was spiced up with the screening of three films in French with English subtitles.

From Les 2 Alfred, a French satirical comedy directed by Bruno Podalydes, which showed at 2.30pm to Ma vie de courgette, a Swiss animated film by Claude Barras, which screened at 4.30pm, and to Coco ferme, a Canadian tale directed by Sébastien Gagné, which graced the screen at 6.00 pm, they were all generous showcase of the richness and diversity of French-language cinema to English-speaking audience.

After the screening, Medusa Afemai, an attendee, who watched Ma vie de courgette, a Swiss animated film by Claude Barras, confessed enjoying the film and understanding a bit of why things are done differently in some climes.

“I enjoyed the Swiss film and now I know why it was voted the Best European Animated Film in 2016. I hope our film industry stakeholders were around to pick one or two things from here,” she said.

Hastrup Taiwo, Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education Lagos State, was excited with the educational awareness and cultural exchange the celebration offered the participants, while urging more Nigerians to learn French, which she noted is an international language.

Kunle Afolayan, a Nigerian ace filmmaker, who also attended the event, highlighted the impact the Alliance de France and the French cultural centre have played in helping the cultural space in Nigeria to boom.

Afolayan, who was Air France Ambassador for four years, before Covid-19, commended the growing collaboration between Nigerian and French movie industries, which he noted was the reason he was invited to the celebration.

Speaking at the event, Laurent Favier, consul general of France in Lagos, noted that the celebration is important because almost 400 million people in over 80 countries of the world speak French, and about 60 percent of them are in Africa.

Bringing the relevance of the celebration home to Nigeria, he noted that Nigeria is important to French culture because over 11,000 Nigerians learn French language every year, with 15,000 French teachers.

Again, Favier explained that Alliance française de Lagos has been instrumental to the growth of French culture and language in Nigeria, having been active in the country for over 60 years, offering French courses, cultural events and intercultural exchanges.

He commended Switzerland and Canada for joining in this year’s celebration.

On his part, Frank Eggmann, consul general of Switzerland in Lagos, noted that the event aims to promote the French language and Francophone cultures to the Nigerian public, while describing Francophonie as a network of like-minded countries sharing the same values.

He noted that Switzerland believes so much in education, hence the Swiss film screened at the event highlighted what education can do and the future it offers for young people.

“Switzerland through its companies in Nigeria, is offering quality education to young Nigerians in vocational and apprenticeship training,” he said.

The Journée Internationale de la Francophonie is celebrated every year in over 80 countries by the 400 million people who speak French.