17 February 2020
Colloquium on Native Languages of Francophone Pacific
Issued on: 2020-02-17
Printing: Offset lithography
Face value: 75 F – CFP franc
Print run: 25,000
The Organisation internationale de la Francophonie (OIF), sometimes shortened to the Francophonie but also called International Organisation of La Francophonie in English language context, is an international organization representing countries and regions where French is a lingua franca or customary language, where a significant proportion of the population are francophones (French speakers), or where there is a notable affiliation with French culture.
The organization comprises 88 member states and governments; of these, 54 states and governments are full members, 7 are associate members and 27 are observers. The term francophonie (with a lowercase “f”), or francosphere (often capitalized in English), also refers to the global community of French-speaking peoples, comprising a network of private and public organizations promoting equal ties among countries where French people or France played a significant historical role, culturally, militarily, or politically.
French geographer Onésime Reclus, brother of Élisée Reclus, coined the word Francophonie in 1880 to refer to the community of people and countries using the French language. Francophonie was then coined a second time by Léopold Sédar Senghor, founder of the Négritude movement, in the review Esprit in 1962, who assimilated it into Humanism.
The modern organisation was created in 1970. Its motto is égalité, complémentarité, solidarité (“equality, complementarity, and solidarity”), a deliberate allusion to France’s motto liberté, égalité, fraternité. Starting as a small club of northern French-speaking countries, the Francophonie has since evolved into a global organization whose numerous branches cooperate with its member states in the fields of culture, science, economy, justice, and peace.
The primary mission of the organization is the promotion of the French language as an international language and the promotion of worldwide cultural and linguistic diversity in the era of economic globalization. In this regard, countries that are members of the Francophonie have contributed largely to the adoption by the UNESCO of the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions (20 October 2005).
At the national level, there is the problem of promoting the French language within the context of its co-existence with other partner or international languages in most member countries, especially in Africa. Maintaining the relative importance of the status of French is an imperative that requires solidarity and the pooling of means and resources among countries committed to the French language within their respective societies.
The Francophonie has been a pioneer in terms of the recognition of cultural diversity and dialogue of cultures. It must find ways of confronting the trend towards uniformity that accompanies globalization and fostering the preservation and development of cultural diversity.
The territory of Wallis and Futuna is sandwiched between Tonga, Samoa, Tokelau, and Fiji. It covers an area of about 55 square miles with a population of 12,000. Although French is used in an official capacity, it is neither the popular or preferred language in the territory. About 16.2% of the people speak the Wallisian language at home, 29.9% speak Futunan, and only 9.7% speak French.