THE CONSTANCE CLUB
LAUNCH OF THE CONSTANCE CLUB
Address of the Ambassador of France
Bonsoir tout le monde,
Thank you very much for being here tonight. What a fantastic gathering of professionals! We have advocates, engineers, executives, CEOs, hotel directors, psychologists to name but a few. It is a sample perfectly representative of the educated South African society. You share only one common feature: you have a connection to France.
Some of you were trained in France and have kept, so I hope, beautiful memories: the mildness of our climate, the taste of our famous cuisine, the diversity of our regions and, above all, the quality of the training we provided.
Others were trained at F’SATI, in the past the Franco-South African Technical Institute in Electronics, now the Franco-South African Institute of Technology, a venture acknowledged by the South African authorities as the greatest engineering centre in the country.
Still others have learnt or are learning French at an Alliance Française. Je suis sûr que si je poursuivais mon discours en français, cela ne vous poserait aucun problème.
Because of this connection to France, this is your home. Bienvenue à la Résidence de France.
We have decided to launch a club of South Africans where the sole criterion for admission is this connection to France. The proposed name is Constance. Why?
Firstly because the word Constance being the English form of Latin Constantia that means steadfast, we are and shall ever be steadfast in friendship.
Secondly, because Charles Baudelaire, in a poem entitled Sed non satiata, compares the delights of the Vin de Constance to those of his mistress. The Vin de Constance is traditionally produced in the Cape, more precisely at Constantia, from a French grape, the Muscat de Mireval, and therefore is an embodiment of Franco-South African achievement. Baudelaire writes: Je préfère au constance, à l’opium, au nuits, l’élixir de ta bouche où l’amour se pavane. Which, translated into English, would read: I prefer to constance, to opium, to nights, the nectar of your mouth upon which love parades.
But if Baudelaire had such preferences, Napoleon, on the other hand, was extremely fond of the Vin de Constance while in Saint Helena, so fond that the Britons were concerned by the cost of renewing Napoleon’s cellar. That’s too bad for them!
I shall not enter into the details of the Club organisation and governance but I ensure you that they will be as simple as possible. Constance will indeed be a voluntary association, a structure that needs not to be registered with CIPRO, nor subject to the companies act. I hope that there will be volunteers to draft its constitution and compose its first committee.
What are the main objectives of the Constance Club?
Firstly to intensify the interaction and networking between the Embassy and the South Africans who have been exposed to French culture.
Secondly to facilitate networking between yourselves who share a special connection to France. I know that many of you are eager to interact with people having had a similar experience.
Thirdly to provide a special entry to France. Be it a partnership with French companies, a custom-made training, a study tour, we can facilitate and help you to organise it. The Club will be your main gateway to France. And of course you will be kept informed of French cultural activities in South Africa and be cordially invited to them.
Fourthly to share your experience with future students or interns. In 2008, there were officially 165 South African Students in France. We are willing to increase this number of those who select France for their higher education. Because, obviously, we want to strengthen our influence or our shares in the world market of higher education, but not only. In fact we are truly convinced of the great value of the French higher education carried out in the most prestigious institutes: those who were trained in France can bear testimony. I have to add that South Africa is strategically involved in Africa and French is the language of 60% of its people. Moreover, French proficiency is not enough to understand the soul of Francophone Africa. A knowledge of French culture is required, a culture which includes Leopold Sédar-Senghor and Aimé Césaire.
For all these reasons and many others, for example our partnership with South Africa in many fields, I hope that you will welcome this new Club and make it live. I am personally convinced that it can bring a lot to the Franco-South African relationship.
The next step will be another function, at the beginning of 2010, where the first Constance committee will take over. It is my pleasure to announce that, in this occasion, some tickets for the World Cup will be raffled among the Club members.
May Constance have a long and fruitful life.
Longue vie à Constance.
Enjoy your evening. A très bientôt j’espère.
General presentation on the Club Constance
Many South Africans have a special connection to France in the field
a) Some of them were trained in France and, in many cases,
benefitted of a French bursary.
b) Others were trained in the Franco-South African Institute of
Technology (F’SATI), formerly the Franco-South African Technical
Institute in Electronics (F’SATIE), a venture acknowledged by the
South African authorities as the greatest engineering centre in the
c) Still others were trained at the APORDE seminar (African
Programme of Rethinking Development Economics) driven by the
French Embassy and the DTI.
d) Finally others have learnt French at an Alliance Française.
The Constance Club gathers people having this sort of connection with France.
2. Why Constance?
This name was selected for the following reasons:
a) The word Constance is the English form of Latin Constantia
meaning steadfast: we are and shall ever be steadfast in friendship.
b) Secondly, Charles Baudelaire, in a poem entitled Sed non satiata,
compares the delights of the Vin de Constance to those of his
mistress. The Vin de Constance is traditionally produced in the
Cape, more precisely at Constantia, from a French grape, the
Muscat de Mireval, and therefore is an embodiment of Franco-South
c) Napoleon was extremely fond of the Vin de Constance while in
Saint Helena, so fond that the Britons were concerned by the cost
of renewing Napoleon’s cellar.
2.Organisation and governance
Constance is a voluntary association and therefore a structure that needs not to be registered with CIPRO, nor is it subject to the companies act. Its constitution will presently be drafted and its first committee elected.
3. Main objectives
a) To intensify interaction and networking between the Embassy and
South Africans who have been exposed to French culture.
b) To facilitate networking between its members.
c) To provide a special entry to France. Be it a partnership with French
companies, be it a custom-made training, be it a study tour, the
French Embassy will facilitate it, even the visas, and help to
organise it. The Club will be, for the members, the main gateway to
d) To share the experience with future students or interns willing to
go to France.