Francophonie — the collective peoples and institutions that speak French — is celebrated every March. Both an initiative driven by successive French governments and a tradition upheld by embassies, this honoring of the French language is confusing to say the least.
March is filled with cultural events championing the French language all over the world. But the initiative is a confusing one because people who speak French are likely to do so every day, so why the celebration? It is also odd that this ordered commemoration comes from the government, and is not a spontaneous enterprise led by cultural and linguistic figures. This illustrates the ambiguity of the term "Francophonie" and of the institution of government supposed to defend our language.
For example, what is the difference between a Francophone writer and a French writer? Does it come down to ancestry? Or perhaps skin color? Alain Mabanckou is a Congolese-born novelist and professor of French at UCLA in Los Angeles, but is he Francophone or simply a French speaker? The professor himself is against this distinction, which he believes dates back to[...]