Maryse Condé wins Grand’Croix de l’Ordre du Mérite

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Our beloved Maryse Condé won France’s Grand’Croix de l’Ordre du Mérite—the highest rank of the prestigious National Order of Merit is awarded by the President of France for distinguished achievements. The Guadeloupean novelist received the award at the Élysée Palace in early March. In “’l’indépendantiste la plus décorée de la République!’ honorée par Emmanuel Macron,” Karine Zabulon (Outre-mer la 1ère) underlines the irony of this major win for Condé, a famously fierce pro-independence advocate. Read Zabulon’s article and listen to President Macron’s speech at Outre-mer la 1ère. [See part of the official ceremony at YouTube.]

The Guadeloupean writer received the Great Cross of the National Order of Merit from the hands of the President of the Republic, Emmanuel Macron, last night during a ceremony at the Elysée Palace. It was a moving ceremony where Maryse Condé was surrounded by her loved ones. Her distinction was officially announced on December 3. [The Grand’Croix] is an honorary insignia to reward eminent merits. It is the highest rank in the National Order of Merit.

Moving tribute

Initially adverse to this type of distinction, the one who “dreams of one day presenting her Guadeloupe passport to customs officers in Roissy,” underlines Emmanuel Macron, relaxes as the speech progresses. The writer’s life is described to the audience. Personalities like Jean-Marc Ayrault, former prime minister and current president of the Foundation for the Memory of Slavery, her children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren, her husband, but also many friends came to surround her and share with her this tribute from the Republic.

In his speech, Emmanuel Macron refers to slavery, decolonization, and weighs his words when he evokes the home in which she was raised where “we bluntly proclaim French nationality.” He allowed a few seconds of his speech to immediately assure everyone that “this is not a provocation on my part,” making the audience laugh.

Paradox

Straying from his written speech, the head of state asked himself a question: “How can he honor a woman who wants to have a Guadeloupe passport?” A question to which he does not provide an answer, but he takes the opportunity to quote Maryse Condé’s husband, Richard Philcox, “Richard said that you were resolutely the most decorated [honored] independence advocate of the Republic.”

[Many thanks to Peter Jordens for providing all related links. Translated by Ivette Romero. For original article (in French) and video of Macron’s full speech, see
https://la1ere.francetvinfo.fr/maryse-conde-independantiste-plus-decoree-republique-honoree-emmanuel-macron-806493.html; photos by Véronique Polomat.]

Also see:
Emmanuel Macron: « Maryse Condé m’a appris l’Afrique »
Le chef de l’État s’est confié au « Point », après avoir remis la Grand-Croix de l’ordre national du Mérite à l’écrivaine guadeloupéenne.
Valérie Marin La Meslée, Le Point, 4 mars 2020
https://www.lepoint.fr/livres/emmanuel-macron-maryse-conde-m-a-appris-l-afrique-03-03-2020-2365450_37.php

Maryse Condé a reçu la Grand-Croix de l’ordre national du Mérite à l’Élysée
Camille Cado, ActuaLitté, 5 mars 2020
https://www.actualitte.com/article/culture-arts-lettres/maryse-conde-a-recu-la-grand-croix-de-l-ordre-national-du-merite-a-l-elysee/99580

Cérémonie – Maryse Condé Grand’Croix de l’Ordre du Mérite – Extrait
March 7, 2020: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lShd7pmHCF8

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