Monday, 26 October 2009

A festive demonstration

On Saturday we went to Carcassonne for the Anem Oc! demonstration in support of the Occitan language and official recognition of the fact that it is spoken over the whole of southern France, into the alpine valleys of northern Italy and in the Val d’Aran in the Pyrenees, in Catalunya – the only place where it is an official language.  The atmosphere was lively, festive, noisy and fun and there were about 25,000 people on the march through the streets of Carcassonne and up to the Cité, the old medieval town.

DSC09658 DSC09631 There was a wonderful mix of fun and politics – women on stilts, Occitan, Breton, Basque and Catalan flags, and banners demanding liberty for the language and an end to fascism.
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There were traditional Occitan music groups who marched with us through the streets, the bangs of fire crackers and the cheerful shouts from the crowds of people of all ages from small children to young people to the middle aged and older.  It was an exciting and inspiring event.

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It took several hours for the last of the demonstrators to reach the Cité.  There is a connection with the issues I usually write about on this blog, too. 

DSC09684 The movement for Occitan language and culture is connected closely with campaigns for the environment in this part of France, and this has been so ever since the early 1970s when there were protests against the proposed extension of a military base on the Larzac plateau.  These historic links were represented here by some demonstrators who carried flags depicting the cardabela, the carline thistle, symbol of the Larzac where it grows, and the present-day links were there too in the campaign literature of the Partit Oc (the Occitan Party) demanding the protection of the locally based agriculture and food of the region, as well as more Occitan schools and a better TV service.

There are more photos on Flickr: here.

DSC09759 Back home in the garden we found that the plants had benefited from the heavy rain we had last week and now the warm sun has returned to bring the second spring we usually have at this time of the year.  We’ve sown broad beans, Spanish habas and peas, and planted cabbages, lettuces and cauliflowers which are all settling in well.  And the warm weather has brought out more late blooms, including these passiflora flowers.


Stefaneener said...

hey, my sister and I had a lovely time the one time we visited Carcassone. So good to read of the political movements around there -- I was a callow youth and wouldn't have recognized a movement if it had bitten me. Enjoy your rain!

sleepyduck said...

That looks like great fun, even if there was a serious message.

impoftheyard said...

This is a great selection of pictures. I sounds really interesting too. I am so ignorant of these issues it's good to hear about them.

syrahsuzie said...

Languages should never be allowed to die.

My French/Occitan friends are surprised to learn that in our area of Wales, the Welsh language has made an enormous comeback in the space of a few generations.

When my grandmother went to school in the '20s - any child heard speaking Welsh was physically punished! Twenty years later when my mother went to school in the '40s - they had a "Welsh board" (a slate with a string necklace) that was given to the first child heard speaking Welsh in school and then passed from child to child as each one was "caught" speaking this "bad" language. At the end of the day the last child wearing the Welsh board was punished. In the '60s when I went to school my parents were given the choice to put me in the Welsh or English stream - as my father didn't speak Welsh they chose English but I still had Welsh lessons at school. My daughter went to school in Wales just for a few months before we moved out to France and all the classes were bi-lingual at primary level!!

All my nieces and nephews have grown up speaking Welsh fluently (despite one sister-in-law being English). Unfortunately my own children have missed out on this as my Welsh has never been good enough to teach them more than the basics, but they both take advantage of any time spent back in Wales to learn a little more.

It's not too late for Occitan.

chaiselongue said...

Syrahsuzie: It sounds as though you come from a similar area to the one I come from in west Wales. Memories of the Welsh Not were still there, but my children were educated in Welsh (with English as well, but as the second language of the school) from age 5 to 18. When my daughter went to an English university to study French her fellow students were surprised that it was possible to learn French through the medium of Welsh! You're right, it's not too late for Occitan and luckily a lot of people are now campaigning for it.

Jan said...

It surely ought to be recognised and encouraged! Here in Catalunya both Spoanish and Catalan have equal status and it is everybody's duty to speak, write and understand both. Children are taught in Catalan and have Catalan, Spanish and English lessons from very young, and it ought to be similar in your area. Hopefully common sense will prevail soon.

Jan said...

Oh, and thanks for the suggestion about Live Writer... I've a feeling I used to use it on Windows Live Spaces.