The French Embassy celebrates Bastille Day 2016
Ambassador of France to South Africa, Her Excellency Elisabeth Barbier, marked Bastille Day with awards for South Africans involved in the reciprocal France-South Africa Seasons 2012 & 2013
The 2016 celebration of French National Day (14 July) was a significant occasion for the Embassy of France in Pretoria.
Bastille Day marks the beginning of the French Revolution with the storming of the ancient royal jail (La Bastille) on this day in 1789.
The theme for the day’s celebrations was Reunion Island, and took place in the presence of Mr Didier Robert, President of the Reunion Region, and a business delegation. In 2010, La Réunion was declared a UNESCO world heritage site and boasts the Piton de la Fornaise volcano – one of the world’s most active volcanoes.
Reunion Island is a melting pot of cultures, only a four-hour flight away from South Africa, and South Africans don’t require visas for short visits.
Click here to read the Ambassador’s speech.
Ambassador of France to South Africa, Her Excellency Elisabeth Barbier, bestowed on Mr Bongani Tembe the signet of Officier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. On the same occasion, she bestowed on Ms Monica Newton and Ms Rosie Katz the signet of Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres on behalf of the French Ministry of Culture during the celebrations at the French Residence.
The Order of the Arts and Letters was established in 1957 by the French Minister of Culture and rewards those who, through their ongoing engagement and creativity, have helped develop the arts and culture in France and throughout the world, building bridges between nations.
- Mr Tembe, a well-known South African artist, served as the Commissioner-General of the reciprocal France-South Africa Seasons 2012 & 2013, as appointed by the South African national government. He is currently the Joint Chief Executive and Artistic Director of the Kwa-Zulu Natal and Johannesburg Philharmonic Orchestras.
- Ms Newton, currently the Deputy Director General: Arts, Culture, Promotion and Development at the Department of Arts and Culture, served as the Chief Executive of the National Arts Council during the reciprocal France-South Africa Seasons 2012 & 2013.
- Ms Katz served as the Project Manager during the reciprocal France-South Africa Seasons 2012 & 2013, as appointed by the National Arts Council – the implementing agency for the Department of Arts and Culture in South Africa.
Other prominent South Africans who have been awarded this honour are translator Noami Morgan, filmmaker Ramadan Suleman, arts consultant Mandie van der Spuy and CEO of Business and Arts South Africa Michelle Constant.
In her speech to the recipients, Ambassador Barbier said: “Thanks to your vision and efforts, our Reciprocal France -South Africa Seasons were a huge artistic achievement. Since then, cultural diplomacy between France and South Africa has gone from strength to strength, as illustrated yesterday by the opening of the exceptional Henri Matisse exhibition at the Standard Bank Gallery, for the first time on the African continent”.