ORIGIN early 17th cent.: via French from Italian gazzetta, originally gazeta de la novità (because the news-sheet sold for a gazeta, a Venetian coin of small value)

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Festival de la Francophonie 2011

Living in DC can be great fun: it's a city where international happenings occur sans cesse, all throughout the year. March and April were months during which one could enjoy the kinds of francophone treats – films, music, performances, literary salons, storytelling – which otherwise, one would have to travel far and wide to attend. I made it to only a few of them… The festival celebrates the French-speaking world present on all continents, and as Hubert Haddad so rightly reminded us: Les français sont francophones, mais la francophonie n'est pas française, meaning that the French language and culture is not the reserve of France, in fact, French speakers from France represent only 40% of French speakers worldwide!

I attended the opening reception at the Belgian Embassy where I was delighted to meet the francophone contingency from Lafayette, Louisiana, a place where I have deep roots (on my mother's side - another blogpost about that later). The next week, I spent an evening listening to Hubert Haddad, franco-tunisian writer, at a literary salon where he was interviewed by Sarah Diligenti-Pickup. Unfortunately, I missed the one with Yannick Lahens, from Haïti. A few days later, I was thrilled to experience a live music concert by Les Nubians, those two Grammy nominated international singers and recording artists who just happen to be sisters.

It was, however, the evening of La Nuit du conte that I did not want to miss. Four storytellers both captivated and enraptured the audience at La Maison Française: Mimi Barthélémy with stories from the West Indies, Bienvenu Bokian from West Africa, Myriame El Yamani from Acadia, Quebec, and Maghreb, and Barry Jean Ancelet from Louisiana. It was the Louisiana storyteller who caught my attention. I wanted to hear my compatriot tell folktales in French. I wondered if they would be the same I had heard growing up in Louisiana. His voice, his tone, and the stories, tales, and legends from the Cajun world all brought me back to where I come from.
I haven't lived in Louisiana for over 35 years, but I feel closer to it now that I ever have. Vive la francophonie! 

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