On Friday 12 July the Embassy of France in South Africa hosted its National Day celebrations at the Ambassador’s official residence in Pretoria. Bastille Day, celebrated throughout France on the 14th of July, is France’s national holiday and marks the anniversary of the storming of the Bastille during the French Revolution.
The 2013 celebration in Pretoria was slightly different from past events because in addition to the usual festive air the Embassy also took time to celebrate one of South Africa’s great artists, William Kentridge, by bestowing the signet of “Commandeur des Arts et des Lettres”.
The national anthems of France and South Africa were performed by the BuskAid Soweto string ensemble and the performers had learnt the French national anthem especially for the day.
The South African government was represented by Minister Lindiwe Sisulu, who stated that the bilateral relationship between France and South Africa has gone from strength to strength. Minister Sisulu also announced the invitation of President Hollande to South Africa in October this year.
Ambassador Barbier, in welcoming the guests, highlighted the Franco-South African bilateral relationship and in particular the successful hosting of the French Season in South Africa last year, which is being followed by the South African Season in France, currently underway. She also took time to highlight the number of meetings that have taken place between President Hollande and President Zuma and indicated that more visits between the two countries is hoped for in the coming period.
Also present at the celebration were eight 12 year olds from Winnie Ngwekazi primary school who recently returned from France after participating in the Childrens Parliament. Ambassador Barbier was keen to point out how well they represented their country.
After the formalities and speeches were concluded the guests were invited to enjoy some fine French cuisine and sip some wine on the residence lawns.