On Wednesday, March 20th 2019, Louise Mushikiwabo, the Secretary General of the International Organization of La Francophonie (OIF), in a speech, addressed more than 300 million French speakers from 88 countries around the world, that French is not going to war against other languages.
“We have to go beyond a language even if we remain very attached to the French language, I do not really like to give the impression that we are going to war against other languages, so to defend the French language, maybe not, but to make the language shine, to ensure the presence of our language in the fields of education, business, science, it is important,” she said.
She also emphasized the need for French to integrate with other most spoken languages like English or vernaculars.
“I am not only a fan of multilingualism but it is also the reality of today’s world. Many Francophones speak more and more other languages, sometimes for economic reasons, sometimes for reasons of education, and I am the product of several languages.” She added.
Hon. Louise Mushikiwabo, who assumed the OIF office early this January, also met Emmanuel Macron, the President of France, at the headquarters of the OIF in Paris. The two leaders discussed the future of the Organization and focused on the 2020 Francophonie Summit to be held in Tunis, that will mark the 50th anniversary of the OIF.
The celebration of the international Day of Francophonie starts early on the 17th until 25th March (Francophonie week). Member countries of the OIF celebrate through shows, film festivals, literary meetings, among others, all in French. In Rwanda, to mark the celebration, on the eve of 20th March, the Kigali convention center dome lit up in colors of Francophonie.
This year theme goes “The French language, connecting for action”. In an interview with TV5 Monde, Louise Mushikiwabo emphasized the need for unity and integration of French speakers worldwide.
“Today more than before, the world needs collaboration. Small and big countries are obliged to work together, to be able to face climatic, security and emigrational obstacles.” She said.
“Connecting in action” also comes up in Francophonie’s main missions; Integration in promoting peace, democracy, supporting education and expanding cooperation for sustainable development. OIF is an organization of collaboration.
The International Day of Francophonie was derived from a March 20th, 1970 signature of the convention in Niamey, Niger, to initiate the Agency for Cultural and Technical Cooperation, today’s OIF.
French is the fifth most spoken language after Mandarin, English, Spanish and Arabic. With 132 million French learners, the number of French speakers is expected to increase from 300 million to 747 million in 2069.