Bonne Journée de la Francophonie to all today!
Today is International Francophonie Day. It’s a day that celebrates the power of the French language(s) to bring peoples and cultures together as a tool for mutual understanding and peace.
Today is also the 50th anniversary of the event which inspired this celebration.
On March 20th, 1970, 21 state governments (including Canada) came together in Niamey, the capital city of Niger, to sign the Agence de coopération culturelle et technique (ACCT), an international convention that was intended to promote cultural and technological exchanges among French-speaking countries.
Twenty-eight years later the ACCT became the Agence Intergouvernementale de la Francophonie, and, in 2005 it adopted the Charter of the Francophonie and changed its name to the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie, which is what it is called today.
The OIF brings together 88 world states and regional governments. It facilitates cooperation between its members on cultural, political, and economic issues and promotes the French language and linguistic diversity as well as democracy, peace, intercultural dialogue, education, and sustainable development.
According to the OIF’s biannual report, La langue française dans le monde, the Francophonie is “multiple in its words, in its accents, (and) in its ways of saying things”. The Francophonie brings together almost 300 million speakers with many different origins, cultures, and beliefs, and this number grows every year.
Léopold Sédar Senghor, a poet, scholar, former president of Senegal, and one of ACCT’s founders, described la Francophonie as his hope of “a fraternity with mutual respect and dialogue of cultures” (translation).
As an Anglophone who is not fluent in French, it’s a privilege to be invited to be part of that dialogue, and to celebrate this day with the RVF and Francophones everywhere.
Bonne journée à tous!
Catherine Fisher, blogger