French Day at NMMU on Wednesday

APRIL 19, 2016

FINE food and art, research and innovation, will be showcased at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University on April 20, in celebration of the University’s first “French Day”.

French Ambassador to South Africa, Her Excellency Elisabeth Barbier, accompanied by a delegation from France, will be on campus to officially open French Day, and participate in the various events.

The first of these is “French Food and Culture” at the on-campus Rendezvous Café, followed by an afternoon of research presentations, highlighting Franco-South African scientific collaboration, promoting future cooperation, and expanding on the already extensive academic ties between the two countries. In the evening, Barbier will open an art exhibition by award-winning South African printmaker Mongezi Ncaphayi, at NMMU’s Bird Street Campus.

“We look forward to what should be a wonderful day of interaction, between NMMU and our French visitors,” said Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research and Engagement, Prof Andrew Leitch.

The French delegation will also meet with NMMU Vice-Chancellor Prof Derrick Swartz, and will visit NMMU’s Centre for Higher Resolution Transmission Electron Microscopy (HRTEM), which houses Africa’s most powerful microscope.

Barbier will be joined by French Counsellor for Cooperation Frank Marchetti, the French Attache for Science and Technology Dr Jean-Paul Toutain, the French Consul in Cape Town  Xavier D’Argoeuves, along with a number of French researchers.

The group has been in the Eastern Cape, visiting Port Elizabeth and its surrounding areas, since Monday – and is also meeting with high-level officials from Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality and the Eastern Cape Provincial Government. The French Navy Ship Le Floréal is also paying a courtesy call to Port Elizabeth, and will be in the Bay until April 23.

“The purpose of the visit will be to promote France’s activities, both in South Africa and in the Eastern Cape, and to interact with stakeholders and officials on local and provincial level about opportunities in the region,” said Nonhlanhla Kunene, the Embassy’s University Cooperation Officer.

Barbier will officially open French Day at the University’s “French Food and Culture” event, which runs from 11.30am to 2pm at Rendezvous Café.

Among the French fare on sale to university students and staff will be Quiche Lorraine, Pot-au-feu (a French beef stew), Fricassee de Poulet (chicken in wine), Bouillinade (fish and potato bake) and duck a l’orange. Baguettes, croissants and the sweet treats, macarons (macaroons) and mini choux, will also be available.

From 1pm to 5pm, in the South Campus Council Chambers, there will be presentations for students and staff on Franco-South African research collaboration, education and innovation, as well as an informative session on study opportunities in France. These will be presented by NMMU staff working in collaboration with French partners, and staff from the French embassy.

French Day will close on a cultural note, when Barbier opens Ncaphayi’s exhibition, titled “Spirit’s Response”, at the Bird Street Campus.

Ncaphayi’s work typically focuses on the theme of the migration of people from rural to urban areas. “Spirit’s Response” reflects the artist’s own life – it is a record of his thoughts, feelings and ideas about life's situations, the people he has come across and his environment.

Ncaphayi won the coveted 2013 Barclays L’Atelier Gerard Sekoto Award, which included a three-month residency in Paris.

The exhibition will be open to the public from April 21 to May 13, from 9.30am to 3pm (week days). The artist is conducting two exhibition “walkabouts” on April 21, at 9am and 12.30pm.

French Days, which have been held at a number of South African universities, are co-organized by the Embassy of France in South Africa and the departments of International Relations of each university. 

Image: French ambassador to South Africa, Her Excellency Elisabeth Barbier (Source: Lesotho Times).