LE 14 JUILLET / BASTILLE DAY : FRENCH NATIONAL DAY ON JULY 14, 2009...

On the occasion of the French National Day

the Ambassador of France and Mrs Chantal COLLEU-DUMOND

entertained guests at a reception

on Tuesday, July 14, 2009

from 7 to 9pm

at BNL Life Camp, Jabi, ABUJA

The reception was concluded with fireworks launched from the hill, next to the Capital Lake Hotel

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Speech of HE M. Jean-Michel DUMOND

Ambassador of France to Nigeria

on the occasion of the French National Day

-excerpts-

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I am glad to say that relations between France and Nigeria are excellent. After the official visit of President Umaru Musa YAR’ADUA to France in June 2008, during which a strategic partnership was adopted by the two presidents, Mrs Anne-Marie IDRAC, Minister of State for Foreign trade, visited Nigeria in October last year, and the French Prime Minister, M. François FILLON, paid an official visit to Abuja and Port Harcourt on May 22 and 23 of this year.

The Prime Minister’s visit, both to the Federal capital and to the Delta, was a clear sign of France’s confidence in Nigeria’s capacities to cope with its economic challenges and the future of this vital region. During M. FILLON’s stay, 6 agreements were signed, including an agreement on legal matters, which will facilitate the two countries’ fight against corruption.

Nigeria is France’s first trade partner in sub-Saharan Africa. Bilateral trade recorded a total of 4.8 billion euros in exchanges between our two countries in 2008. France is also the second Foreign investor in Nigeria.

At the international level, France and Nigeria share the same global challenges, including the issue of climate change. In this regard, there will be at the end of this year an important meeting in Copenhagen, and France and Nigeria will be side by side to address this crucial problem.

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What is the meaning of the 14th of July?

why is the French National Day on that day?

In 1880, the Third Republic granted France a national holiday on 14 July in memory of the storming of the Bastille on 14 July 1789. This commemoration, which is intended to unite all French people in their loyalty to their country, is also an echo of the Festival of the Federation on 14 July 1790, a synonym for reconciliation. The popular festivities it gave rise to, built around some unmissable firework displays, quickly ensured it would be celebrated far into the future by the great majority of people.

On 21 May 1880, Benjamin Raspail, a member of the French National Assembly in Paris, put forward the following bill: "That the Republic should adopt 14 July as an annual national holiday". The proposal was approved by the Chamber of Deputies on 8 June and ratified by the Senate on the 29th of the same month; the law was promulgated on 6 July, whilst the Minister of the Interior had already formed a commission responsible for deciding on the programme for the day, in order to ensure that the holiday would have a national flavour from its very first year. Secular ceremonies in schools, inaugurations of Republican statues, distribution of food to the poor, illuminations, bell-ringing, hoisting of flags and reviewing the troops were therefore encouraged across France, according to the goodwill and budgetary resources of the municipalities. Indeed, the active involvement of the army was intended to bring together all those afflicted by the loss of Alsace and Lorraine after the crushing defeat at Sedan, which had led to the surrender of the French army to the Prussians in 1870 and the signature of the Treaty of Frankfurt on 10 May 1871.

14 July 1880 was intended to be a celebration of the upsurge in patriotism in the country, with the handing over of flags to the reconstituted regiments, which had been put off for several years. The loss of the standards on the Prussian front in 1870 had been a traumatic event that could only be put right by a highly symbolic celebration. The primary function of this first national holiday, which established allegiance to Marianne as a personification of the Republic, was to ensure national unity and re-establish France’s military power by calling on the collective memory. Busts of Marianne were inaugurated in public places, and citizens were able to buy lithographs from kiosks that represented her wearing the Phrygian cap, the symbol of freedom conquered by the people, and draped with the tricolour or surrounded by a bundle of flags (the symbol of a triumphant nation).

Patriotic elation based on shared hopes was quickly coupled with the exhilaration of gatherings in the brightly lit streets and

Dernière modification : 16/07/2009

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