Newsletter 03/13

White Wave for Syria

The FCAS took part in the White Wave for Syria, held on 15 March 2013 in the Place du Panthéon in Paris. Speaking at the event organised by NGOs and the Paris Bar, former French Justice Minister Robert Badinter criticised UN Security Council inaction.

South Africa's truth and reconciliation mechanisms merit closer study in Europe

More work on truth and reconciliation mechanisms should be introduced into school and university programmes in Europe, where tensions between identities are on the rise against a background of economic and social crisis. Roma people in particular, who suffer from rejection in many countries, would benefit from measures to promote their rehabilitation in Europe.
The Committee has raised this issue with the European Commission.

International Women's Day on 8 March: Olympe de Gouges, a noteworthy militant of the French revolution

Olympe de Gouges, born Marie Gouze in Montauban on 7 May 1748, was to become, at the time of the French Revolution, a passionate advocate for women's rights and for the abolition of slavery and the death penalty.
In 1784, she attacked the institution of slavery in a play entitled Zamore et Mirza ou l’Heureux Naufrage (Zamore and Mirza, or the happy shipwreck) but which, during her lifetime, was censored and banned.

As a militant feminist, she responded to the revolutionary Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen adopted by the national constituent assembly on 26 August 1789 – a body composed exclusively of men – with the publication on 14 September 1791 of the Declaration of the Rights of Woman and of the Female Citizen. Article 1 of the declaration proclaimed: "Woman is born free and lives equal to man in her rights".

For her opposition to the violence and terror of Robespierre's regime, she was condemned to death by the revolutionary tribunal and guillotined on 3 November 1793.
Her commitment to the cause of feminism is now universally hailed, but real recognition was very late in coming; it was not until 21 April 1944 that women in France obtained the right to vote.

Mediaeval Africa honoured in a new work published in Paris

The book, by academic François-Xavier Fauvelle-Aymar, takes its title, Le Rhinocéros d’or. Histoires du Moyen-Âge africain (The Golden Rhinoceros. Tales of Africa's Middle Ages") (Alma) from South African history. The golden rhino referred to is a find made at the Mapungubwe site in South Africa, home in the 11th and 12th centuries CE to a vibrant civilisation with trading links that extended well beyond Africa's eastern coast to the Arabian peninsula and beyond, to China. This is borne out by Chinese ceramics found at Mapungubwe.
 The book also makes special reference to the vast cultural heritage of the Kingdom of Mali.

South Africa, cradle of humankind?

The first-quarter 2013 issue of Scientific American magazine presents the discoveries of palaeontologist Lee Berger of Witwatersrand University (Johannesburg) who in 2008 discovered the fossilised skeleton of a new ancestor of modern humans, now known as Australopithecus sediba and dated to about 2 million years ago. This early ancestor appears to have a mixed genetic legacy including many characteristics linking it to Homo. The debate over where exactly the cradle of humankind is located, in Eastern or Southern Africa, is probably far from closed.

South Africa's history still attracts great interest in France

- Ster City, a stage show that educates and entertains
Ster City, a stage show directed by Jean-Paul Delore, relies on two talented South African actors, Lindiwe Mitshikiza and Nick Welsh, to recount the history of South Africa to French audiences, aged 10 and upwards. A series of scenes, often comical but always highly educational, are linked by associations of ideas rather than by any strict timeline.
Upcoming shows: Théâtre de Sartrouville and Centre André Malraux in Vandœuvre lès Nancy (

- Le Monde publishes a work of reference

l'Afrique du Sud de l'apartheid à Mandela (South Africa from apartheid to Mandela) (March 2013)

Featuring a foreword by Frédéric Fritcher, a former Le Monde correspondent in Africa, the book offers a collection of all the leading articles on the subject of South Africa published by the daily newspaper from 1948 to 2012. These in-depth analyses and reports bear witness to the long road travelled from apartheid to Mandela and outline the challenges facing the new South Africa.

Nigeria wins the Africa Cup of Nations in Johannesburg

Nigeria succeeds Zambia as the latest winner of the Africa Cup of Nations.
The Nigerian team won the final against Burkina Faso on 10 February 2013, in Johannesburg. 16 teams and 368 players took part in the 2013 tournament of the Africa Cup of Nations, which was held in South Africa.
The event underlined the close links between African footballers and European football clubs: over half the players taking part in the Cup play professionally for clubs in Europe.