Ghana – Francophone relations: A unique poetry show by the Lebanese Ambassador

Lebanese Ambassador to Ghana and President of the Francophone Ambassadors Group, Mr Maher Kheir, has organised a colourful poetry night dubbed “Gardens of Light” to celebrate the cultural heritage of countries within the Francophone community in Ghana, especially Lebanese Francophone culture.

The ceremony, which forms part of the 52nd anniversary of the formation of the  International Organistion of the Francophonie (OIF),a week-long celebration, brought together the heads of various Francophone Embassies in Ghana, such as the  Ambassador of France, Anne Sophie Avé, the High Commissioner of Canada, Kati Csaba, as well as representatives from the Embassies of Morocco, Congo, Egypt among others.

To strengthen the message of stronger partnerships, the Ambassadors of Lebanon, France, Canada, Morocco, Congo and Egypt performed poems from their respective countries together.

It brought together schools whose curriculum were based on the French language, with each  school presenting an artisitc display of French poems by famous Francophone poets such as Léopold Sédar Senghor from Senegal, AhmadouKourouma from Côte d’Ivoire, and Amine Maalouf, Salah Stétié, VénusKhoury – Ghata, Nadia  Tueni and Maher Kheir from Lebanon

The International Day of la Francophonie was celebrated from 17th to 20th March this year with several activities designed to better integrate member nations, as well as develop partnerships with the francophone communities.

In Ghana, the Francophone Embassies, together with Alliance Française, organised various events during the period to celebrate cultural and linguistic diversity. The week-long event was characterised by a poetry night, concerts, film screenings, job application workshops, meet-up with authors, and childrens’ performance.

The event also featured the Lebanese Ambassador, Mr Kheir, who performed a collection of his creative poetry using the artistic elements of images, lights, music and choreography to communicate his message of tolerance, love and peace.

According to him, poetry was a powerful tool to advance social transformation while French was a language of openness to the world which allowed for discovery of new cultures. This combination, in his opinion, was an unbreakable force to bring people and cultures closer for growth.

In his remarks, Mr Kheir noted that what the world needed today was a culture of dialogue, tolerance and peace instead of hate and war.

Being the first of its kind in Ghana, he urged the participants, especially the Francophone community, to be ambassadors of change wherever they found themselves to achieve greater inclusion and harmony.

He commended Ghana under the leadership of President Akufo-Addo for their exemplary commitment to the Francophone Community as part of efforts to realise this harmony.

He noted that “it is therefore not surprising that Ghana, an Anglophone nation, is one of the few countries that is a member of the Commonwealth and of the Francophonie.”

Ghana has, since 2006, had the status of associate member within the International Organisation of Francophonie (IOF).

Mr Kheir is a Lebanese poet and diplomat. He travelled to France where he lived for a period of time. He studied languages and literature and graduated from its universities, founded a poetry forum and worked in the media.

Later, by virtue of his diplomatic work, he moved between the capitals of some major countries. He presented many poetry evenings in innovative performances using sound, light, choreography, music and image, especially at the theatres of Paris, Cairo, Canberra and the Sydney Opera House.

He is considered the pioneer of theatrical poetry. He was also the first poet who turned his poetry into short movies.

He has participated in international festivals and for all his poetic works, he won the Shield of the International Video Clip Oscar Festival in Egypt.

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