News / South Africa

Virginia Keppler
2 minute read
15 Jul 2017
6:06 am

France lauds SA trade links

Virginia Keppler

Graffiti and rousing renditions of national anthems mark celebration of France's liberation.

People pose for picture in front of a piece of street art being painted at a reception in the gardens of the French Residence during a Bastille day celebration, 14 July 2017, Pretoria. Picture: Jacques Nelles

The French embassy in Pretoria yesterday celebrated Bastille Day with a special emphasis on sports and Olympic values, highlighting the city of Paris’ bid to host the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Bastille Day, France’s national day, marks the beginning of the French Revolution with the storming of the penitentiary on July 14, 1789.

The Bastille was a fortress prison in Paris, which often held people jailed on the basis of lettres de cachet (signed letters) – arbitrary royal indictments that could not be appealed and did not indicate the reason for the imprisonment.

The Bastille is known to have held political prisoners whose writings had displeased the royal household. Yesterday, street artists Senzo and Prefixx, facilitated by NGO Baz-Art, did a live graffiti wall promoting #Paris2024, and Durban-born singer Zoe Modiga delivered a surprise and special performance at the celebrations.

She also sang both the French and South African national anthems. French Ambassador Christophe Farnaud hosted various diplomats from embassies around Pretoria, as well as government officials.

Speaking about rugby, Farnaud said: “For better or for worse, as an ambassador, let me insist on the results of the matches, although I absolutely want to congratulate the Springboks and the South African A team for the brilliant results they have.”

He also shared his satisfaction with the coaching clinics which were organised by the French and the South African players and nongovernmental organisations in Durban for the children of Umlazi and Soweto.

Springbok players Jamba Ulengo and Jan Serfontein attended yesterday’s celebrations. Farnaud said bilateral relations between France and South Africa were “dense”, be they at political, economic or cultural level.

“In the economic field, South Africa is France’s first customer in sub-Saharan Africa. In total, 370 French companies are based in South Africa – major companies listed on the Paris stock index, but also a growing number of SMEs and startups that directly employ more than 37 000 people in the industrial and services sectors.”

The deputy director-general for economic policy, Monale Ratsoma, said there were 17 South African companies employing at least 10 000 French national citizens. – virginiak@citizen.co.za