The French Embassy in Uganda on Friday joined France to commemorate the Bastille Day, a day of great significance in the history of the European country.
In 1789, agitated revolutionaries stormed the Bastille fortress in France which was a symbol of the oppressive Bourbon monarchy and freed hundreds of prisoners.
This attack came to be the trigger of the famous 1789 French revolution which ushered in a new era of freedom to the masses, giving birth to the values of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity that became the emblem of France.
French Ambassador to Uganda, Stephanie Rivoal hosted diplomats, dignitaries and officials from the Ugandan government to a cocktail party characterized by merrymaking.
In Uganda, celebrations were themed on the ‘revolution of society’, reflecting on the 1936 French social Revolution which improved workers’ rights and benefits.
For the first time, the workers enjoyed a two week paid holiday, reduction in working hours and a free train ticket to holiday destinations.
Ambassador Rivoal underscored the importance of social progress and inclusive growth in the development of any particular country.
“It is true that economic growth has lifted millions of people out of poverty and improved the lives… But yet it is increasingly evident that a model of human development based on economic progress alone is incomplete,” Rivoal stressed in her remarks.
She said that a society that fails to address basic human needs to equip citizens to; improve their quality of life, reach happiness, protect the environment can never succeed.
“Inclusive growth requires both economic and social progress. 1936 represents the advent of leisure society. It represents free time as a right, a way of life, an economy and a model of society.”
“Work is essential but it cannot be the only objective on life. Life deserves more. Economic development, social inclusiveness and environmental protection can and must coexist,” Rivoal added.
Like France, she noted that Uganda has fought for freedom, peace, sustainable prosperity and survival of the planet.
Rivoal used the Bastille Day celebrations to pay tribute to former Chief of Defense Forces (CDF), Gen. Katumba Wamala whom she praised for his determination in fighting terrorism in Somalia and corruption during his tenure in the Police Force.
Other Ugandans that were recognized included; Civil Rights Activists Victor Ochen and Pamela Angwech as well as ex-Minister Betty Bigombe whose role was significant in the peace talks between the government of Uganda and LRA rebel group.
On his part, Minister of Local Government, Tom Butime who represented government at the event expressed gratitude to France for its support to Uganda especially in the area of peace and security.
“Peace and security are key requirements to development and without peace; no meaningful development can take place. With strong French support, Uganda has managed to degrade the war capacity of the Al-Shabab in Somalia,” Butime said.
He said that France’s direct investment stock in Uganda is currently over 900 million Euros which is largely attributed to increased awareness of investment opportunities locally.
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