For its eleventh edition in Pretoria, the opening day of the Francophonie Festival was, once again, an unprecedented success and gathered more than 5,000 people around a rich and ambitious program. Young and old alike celebrated the French language and the cultural diversity of the Francophonie in South Africa.
On March 7, 2020, for the third consecutive year, the opening of the Francophonie Festival in Pretoria took place in a partner high school of the French Embassy. Crawford International Pretoria opened its doors to the festival, which has become a must-attend event in March, where French language learners gather with the general public to celebrate the French language and Francophone cultural diversity. Crawford International Pretoria, a renowned institution where over 350 students learn French, gave the event a strong visibility and an outreach to new audiences.
The opening day was attended by an unparalleled number of people – just over 5,000 – who had the chance to discover crafts, enjoy culinary specialties, learn travel tips and recommendations, and participate in contests with the 20 French-speaking countries and OIF members in attendance. Seven partners of the Francophonie in South Africa – the Cercle francophone de Pretoria, the African World Heritage Fund, the Pan African Cultural Experience, the Lycée français Jules Verne, the Alliance Française de Pretoria, the Crawford School and the Spelling Bee Africa association – also had fair booths, welcoming pupils and teachers from all over Gauteng, as well as the wider public, who are increasingly attracted to this Festival. Many attractions were offered free of charge to the delight of children and adults: bouncy castles, face painting, balloon sculptures, a photo booth in the colors of the Francophonie, food trucks and candy floss stands.
The festival kicked off with the Crawford School Marimbas band, followed by official speeches by the Headmaster of Crawford School, the Director for Development of Governance and Educational Management of the Department of Basic Education, the Director of the Alliance Française of Pretoria and the French Ambassador to South Africa and Lesotho. The program alternated between professional performances with the concert of the Congolese group Les Fantastiques, the Swiss Traditional Choir and its hunting horns, and the performance of the French accordionist Claude Verdié; and high-quality amateur performances with the school choirs of Crawford School, the French high school Jules Verne, and the artistic vocational high school ProArte, host of the 2019 edition.
The new feature of the 2020 Festival was the organization of the first finals of the French Spelling Bee: “Epelle-moi Africa”.