FRENCH-SPEAKING diplomats residing in Zimbabwe will next Friday launch Francophone week, a cultural and social fete that celebrates their attachment to the French language.
Speaking recently at a press briefing, chairman of Francophone Zimbabwe and French ambassador, Gabriel Jugnet, said the week-long celebrations, which are under the theme “meeting, dialogue, conversation, communication” will feature film, poetry and a quiz.
“From March 14 to 20, a variety of cultural varieties will take place in Harare, including the screening of five films from Francophone countries, Ionescuâ€™s play La Cantatrice Chauve and spelling and poetry contests for those more versed in French,” said the French ambassador.
The ambassador emphasised the need for language diversity in a “global village” adding that Zimbabwe would also learn from other non-French countries that have incorporated the language into their education curricula.
“One of the most impressive sights in my career is to see how diverse people are,” said Jugnet.
Mozambique, a former Portuguese colony, is also co-hosting the Francophone week together with other diplomatic missions.
The ambassador said French is the “first foreign language” at secondary school education.
Diplomats from Egypt and Bulgaria, neither of which were French colonies, said their interest in diversity had also made the language popular in their respective countries.
In a separate event President Robert Mugabe recently mocked his cabinet for being ignorant of foreign languages. He said he had been “terribly ashamed” when nobody in his cabinet was able to engage in a telephone conversation with a senior Cameroon government official who called Mugabeâ€™s Munhumutapa offices.
The president said the government was saved from further embarrassment when a secretary in the Foreign Affairs ministry eventually spoke to the government representative.
French is a descendent of the Latin of the Roman Empire and is an official language in 29 states spoken by over 200 million people. It is also an official language in the European Union and in most central and North African countries.
The organisation of La Francophonie 2008 celebrations in Zimbabwe is a collaboration between the diplomatic missions of Algeria, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Czech Republic, Egypt, France, Greece, Mozambique, Poland, Romania and Switzerland.–Bernard Mpofu