World of French: The Democratic Republic of Congo


Written by Kaleb Houle-Lawrence – high school Intern



The Democratic Republic of Congo, often shortened to DRC, is the second largest country on the continent of Africa. Kinshasa, located on the Congo River, is the capital city of the DRC and the largest city in Central Africa. Another “nickname” for the country is Congo (Kinshasa), where the capital city is added to distinguish it from the Republic of Congo. From 1971 to 1997, DRC was actually referred to as the Republic of Zaire. General Mobutu Sese Soko, the ruler of the Republic of Zaire, wanted to use a more traditionally African name for the nation; “Zaire” means “great river” in local African languages. The name “Congo” came from European colonization, where the area was named after the Kongo tribe, who lived near the mouth of the Congo River. In 1997, Motubu was overthrown, and the new government reinstated the name DRC. Now, the DRC is the fourth most populous African country and the most populous francophone (French-speaking) nation in the world with a population of 105 million.


French Language

French is the official language of the DRC and is widely used in education, business, government affairs, and international communication. There are also four national languages (Swahili, Tshiluba, Lingala, and Kongo) that are used for a variety of regional commerce and cultural purposes (such as radio). Lingala is the most rapidly growing language and was used as the official language of the military during the rule of General Motubu. Now, it is often used in popular music and widely spoken in the capital city.



King Leopold

Unlike other francophone nations in Africa, the DRC was actually colonized by Belgium during the Scramble for Africa. Under the leadership of King Leopold, the area now known as the DRC was colonized via a series of treaties made with local tribes to sign land over to his control; many of these treaties were based in trickery and violence. Another interesting factor in the colonization of the DCR is that the land was owned by Leopold himself, not the Belgian government. Leopold claimed that his interests in Africa were a humanitarian effort, which convinced European leaders to support his efforts. In actuality, Leopold’s real focus was the vast quantities of ivory that existed in the region of Central Africa. Once the facade of Leopold’s benevolence wore thin, the negative attention became overwhelming, and he tried to grant the land to the Belgian government, which slightly improved the conditions of life. Albert I, a new Belgian king, slowly improved the lives of the Congo people. In 1960, the DRC finally achieved independence but was still considered a part of the Belgian economic sphere.

Art & Music

Nkisi Figure


Ndop Statue

Across the entire continent of Africa, art is a critical cultural phenomenon, but this rings especially true in the DRC. Each region is known for its own unique style of art–be that painting, sculptures, or other mediums. The southwest region is well-known for the stone and nail-studded “nkisi” statues, which resemble Kongo people. This region also produces masks and figurines of the Yaka people, another ethnic group in the DRC. Kuba, the south-central region, is famed for its “ndop,” statues that are created to resemble the king and serve a symbolic representation of his power in his absence. The Luba art style dominates the south-east region of the country and incorporates a female influence on society by depicting motherhood. Just north of Luba, the Lega region produces a variety of ivory crafts and traditional masks. Both the Zande and Mangbetu regions are located in the north and characterized by spears, bow shafts, anthropomorphic pottery, and statues with elongated heads.


François Lwambo

Perhaps the most famous form of art to be produced in the DRC, however, is music. Kinshasa is known as one of the greatest hubs of music in the world, and the Congolese music produced there influences a vast array of cultures in sub-Saharan Africa. African Jazz was forged in 1950s DRC by artists such as Kabesele Tshamala and François Lwambo. This style of jazz had a strong influence on music in Europe and North America, as well. In the 1960s, rumba and soukous became popular styles of music; with them came new dance moves, as well, such as the cavacha and silauka. Papa Wendo was the most famous Congolese singer and musician and helped lay the foundations of the rumba style. Today, an indigenous blend of Cuban merengue, Congolese rumba, and West African highlife is the most popular genre of music, reflecting a meeting of cultures and ethnicities that occurs in the Congo.


The World of French Films

Ana Tunberg, SNHU Intern


Please be advised: 

The movies discussed in this article contain scenes of violence and mature content and are meant for mature audiences.


Movies at our fingertips

The film industry continues to rapidly expand and evolve.  With the rise of streaming services and technology such as Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hulu (just to name a few!) viewers all over the globe can access more international films than ever before. This ease of access has made international and foreign films more popular than ever, including French films!

The Francophone world is wide and varied.  Each of the 80+ French speaking countries has a unique culture and stories to share.  As such, it is impossible to encapsulate all French films in one category.  So, let’s take a peek behind the curtain, or in this case behind the screen, at three recent films to get a taste of the world of French cinema.  Perhaps you will discover a gem for your next movie night (or two… or three…)! 

Portrait de la Jeune Fille en Feu

The 2019 award-winning drama, Portrait de la Jeune Fille en Feu (Portrait of a Lady on Fire), is a historical romance set in Victorian France.  It tells the story of a love affair between two women- an aristocrat named Héloïse (Adèle Haenel) and a painter named Marianne (Noémie Merlant).

Héloïse, who does not want to marry, refuses to sit for her wedding portrait.  Her mother therefore commissions Marianne, who poses as a companion for Héloïse, to paint the wedding portrait in secret.  The film uses art as a love language between the two women and the painting carries a symbolic meaning of deep emotions and desires throughout the film.  It immerses the audience in the characters, their relationship, the setting, and everything in between.

The players


Adèle Haenel (Héloïse) is a talented and decorated actress who has garnered several nominations.  She has won two César Awards and a Lumières Award as well as accolades at several film festivals.

Noémie Merlant (Marianne) gives a breakout performance in this film for which she received a César Award nomination and won the Lumières Award for best Actress.

Céline Sciamma (writer & director), received several accolades with Portrait de la Jeune Fille en Feu. The film won the Queer Palm, which is an accomplishment in and of itself, making Sciamma the first woman in history to receive this award. Sciamma also received the Best Screenplay award at the Cannes Film Festival for this film.

Overall, this cathartic historical drama is well worth the watch!


Adapted from the Novel “Oh…” by Philippe Djian, Elle is a fast-paced film that goes beyond a story of revenge.  This 2016 award-winning thriller/drama is directed by Paul Verhoeven, has a strong female lead and a killer plot. It will definitely prick the minds of all its viewers.

The Plot

When a video game company CEO, Michèle Leblanc (Isabelle Huppert) is sexually assaulted by a stranger, she does not report it to the police and takes matters into her own hands. The hunt and the characters become more complex as the story moves along, and the psychological thriller aspect of the film comes into play as we follow Michèle on her chase towards avengement.

This film delivers several successful motifs, such as the strong, successful, and determined female character, and the mystery of seeking retribution through a wild chase that constantly flips the roles of predator and prey. Not only does the film present these motifs, but the film also goes even deeper with their meaning to this specific film that gives the audience a lot to think about.

The Star

Isabelle Huppert, considered one of the best actresses of this time, has earned several awards, including the César Award for Best Actress for her role in Elle.

Elle was nominated for many awards including several film festivals.  At the César Awards, Elle earned the prize for Best Film and the award for Best Foreign Language Film at the Golden Globes.

This film will not disappoint viewers in giving them quite a ride. 


 Antigone is a 2019 French-Canadian film written and directed by Sophie Deraspe.  This gripping, refreshing, and award-winning drama adapts the old play of ancient Greece to the challenges of the modern world to create an artistic look at politics and immigration, and the strength of character and relationships behind these real-world issues.

Refugees from Kabylia called the Hipponomes, Antigone (Nahéma Ricci) and her family live in Québec.   Antigone is a straight A student who looks after her more troubled brother Polynice (Rawad El-Zein), who is at risk of being deported. 


A Greek Tragedy

Even those familiar with the source material will be surprised by this adaptation as viewers who have never even heard of the Ancient Greek drama. While the movie follows similar plot points and centers on the idea of a woman going against the rules for the greater good, the entire premise of the film changes to a more modern adaptation.  The story focuses on current issues regarding immigrant families and feminism, while also delving into the characters and family dynamics.  This creates an educational, empowering, and artistic film that reaches as many hearts as the original play did.


Garnering several nominations, Antigone received the Canadian Screen Award for Best Motion Picture, and Deraspe received the Canadian Screen Award for Best Adapted Screenplay.

Nahéma Ricci is a young, talented actress whose star is on the rise.  She won the Canadian Screen Award for Best Actress.

Antigone is a unique and successful adaptation that will impact a variety of viewers. 

Movie Time!

Films are a great way to look into a culture and to educate yourself.  I therefore encourage you, dear reader, to indulge in the art of the screen while watching international films.   Take advantage to the access and availability of French films. Bring the world home with just one click.


The World of French – Lebanon

By Chaimae Naanai,
FAC Intern & Volunteer.

Welcome to Western Asia!  Here, we will discover our next country in the World of French:  Lebanon.  The capital of Lebanon, Beirut, is known as the “Paris of the Middle East”. The city is a fusion of the West and East (Arab and European). Although the main language is Arabic, 20% of Lebanese speak French in their daily lives 65% of whom speak it fluently. Although Lebanon has been occupied by both France and Great Britain, French influence has had the biggest impact on the culture. Read the rest of this entry »

The World of French – Cameroon

By Chaimae Naanai,
FAC Intern & Volunteer.

The country of Cameroon is known as “Africa in Miniature” because of its cultural and geographical diversity. It has white beaches, tropical rain forests, grasslands, and deserts all in one country! Cameroon has 2 regions, an English-speaking one and a French-speaking one. I will be focusing on the French side for this blog. The French region is in the East and its legal and educational systems are driven by those found in Europe, especially in France. In this blog, we will explore the culture of Cameroon with an emphasis on the food.

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The World of French – Morocco

By Chaimae Naanai,
FAC Intern & Volunteer.

When we think of French culture, we usually think about France, Canada, and even Belgium. But what would the unconventional countries that not only speak French but also celebrate the culture? In this blog post, I will be exploring Morocco. Morocco is a predominantly Arabic country with deep French and Spanish roots. They have been able to preserve their French influence but also maintain their historical Arabic background. 

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2020 NH PoutineFest: Road Show Edition

Written by Chaimae Naanai, FAC Intern

Over the last 5 years, we have seen the love for Poutine explode. We were very excited about returning to Anheuser Busch to celebrate the 5th NH PoutineFest with you. However, the pandemic hit. Life as we know it changed over night and all events and businesses around the State were impacted.  BUT, you can’t keep a Poutiniac down!

NH PoutineFest 2017

The NH PoutineFest team quickly gathered to re-imagine NH PoutineFest 2020 and take our Fest on the road. So, NH PoutineFest Road Show Edition was born!

Taking the show on the road allows us to not only celebrate one of Quebec’s finest imports but to also support local restaurants. The pandemic has hit our poutine-offering restaurants hard and we felt this might be a great way to support them just as they have supported NH PoutineFest and the Franco-American Centre over the years.

How does the Road Show work you ask?

From July 11th to August 31st, go to a participating restaurant with your “Passeport à la saveur” to receive 25% off your Poutine. While you’re there, take a look at the menu. You might find something else to tempt your taste buds. Maybe you’ll even discover a new favorite eatery while visiting our beautiful area! By buying a passeport à la saveur, you are not only supporting the small businesses, but also the Franco-American Centre. Doing so will allow for more events like this to happen every year. 

The participating restaurants are:

1750 Taphouse, Bedford NH                           

Chez Vachon, Manchester, NH

Flight Center, Nashua, NH

Gravy, Sommersworth, NH

Hollis House of Pizza, Hollis, NH

HotMess Poutine, Rochester, NH

Let’s Get Loaded, Newport, NH

NE Tap House Grille, Hooksett, NH

Nosh Kitchen Bar, Portland, ME

Pinky D’s Poutine Factory, Auburn, ME

Stark Brewing Company, Manchester, NH

The Foundry Restaurant, Manchester, NH

The Village Eatery, Merrimack, NH

Vulgar Display of Poutine, Littleton, NH

While you are enjoying your poutine, make sure to take pictures and videos of yourself in front of the restaurant and post them on the NH PoutineFest Facebook page. After the close of the Road Show, we will gather pictures and videos into a montage we will share on our website!

NH PoutineFest 2019

To order your flavor passport go to Eventbrite they will be available throughout the event.



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Member Spotlight : Chantalle Forgues

By Melody Keilig – Writer

Many Franco-Americans in New England don’t have a strong connection to their family’s heritage. Often, they cannot speak French and do not have an understanding of their history. But what about those Americans of French-Canadian heritage who were raised in border towns neighboring Québec; are they more likely to speak French as a first language and know their history by heart? 

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3,2,1….Immerse! A Great Way to Boost Your Language Skills 
and Travel Abroad! 





submitted by Meghan Herrick – FAC Intern, Spring 2020


As a passionate language learner, I have always believed the most effective form of language acquisition is through immersion. Although it may seem daunting at first many people come out of language immersion feeling confident in their language abilities. I am lucky to have had not only one but two French immersion experiences and in two very different places. In addition, I also spent two semesters in Costa Rica and was an exchange student in Germany for some time in high school so I have had a lot of experience with study abroad and language immersion. 

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2020 with the FAC! 


Melody Keilig – Writer






The first month of 2020 has come and gone, but the FAC has upcoming events for everyone to enjoy very soon in its 30th year of celebrating French language, heritage, and culture! 

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Have You Celebrated Le Réveillon or La Fête des Rois Yet?

Melody Keilig – Writer


Have You Celebrated Le Réveillon or La Fête des Rois Yet?

If not, it’s never too late for a new Christmas tradition!

In general, celebrating Christmas Day in the U.S. usually involves preparing your gifts for the morning. Everyone gathers around the tree to exchange and open their gifts and then a bountiful lunch or dinner usually follows.

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Who is The French-Canadian Legacy Podcast

by Melody Keilig




At one time in New England, French-Canadians were the largest immigrant group crossing the northern border from Quebec to find work in the mills. During this time, they faced many challenges in their new homeland from discrimination to low wages, but their dedication to living a better life helped them overcome and adapt to American life without completely losing their culture. 

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Bonne St-Jean!!!

St-Jean-Baptiste / Fête Nationale Holiday
La Fête St-Jean-Baptiste, also known affectionately as simply “La St-Jean”, has a long history in Québec and in the United States.
St. John the Baptist is recognized by Catholics as the patron saint of French Canadians.  Given the large number of French Catholics who emigrated from Quebec to New England, it is no surprise that the St-Jean was soon recognized as the patron saint of Franco-Americans as well. His feast day is June 24th.

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2018 in Review

Click here to download the document readable below
Dec 2018 in review

Letter from the President

Dear members and friends,

As we start 2019, we are celebrating another great year at the Franco-American Centre. From our early beginnings on Concord Street to our new offices at St. Anselm College, we continue to expand our vision and programming to provide a great cultural experience in our region for all.

Last year’s activities continued to build upon our fun and engaging annual events. In addition to the perennial successes of Mardi Gras, the St-Jean-Baptiste and the Beaujolais Nouveau Gala, we were able to build on the success of NH PoutineFest while adding Camp Bienvenue, a new program for immigrant youth. Check out Francophone month coming up in March.

With a talented board, dedicated staff and enthusiastic volunteers, we continue to create opportunities for people to celebrate French language and culture in their homes and in their communities.

Whether as a member, a donor, volunteer or event participant, we hope you will join us as we begin our exciting 29th year. Your involvement and support is valued as our Franco-American history continues.

Please join us at our events this year. You will enjoy them.

I look forward to seeing you soon. Warm regards,

James Normand, President

2018 Year in Review

What a year! The FAC has been quite busy. We’ve hosted over 40 events!  Activities included the monthly Prêt-à-parler (PAP), francophonie month in March, New Hampshire PoutineFest in June, the annual Beaujolais Nouveau Gala in November to everything in between. None of these would have been possible without the 80 plus volunteers who generously donated their time, energy and ideas or the members who have made generous contributions.


The year started with our monthly PAP French conversation gathering. Throughout the year, on the 1st Tuesday of each month, 15 to 20 avid French speakers meet to exchange ideas and even further their knowledge of the French language. All levels and dialects are warmly welcome, no matter the weather.

In February, members and guests spiced things up at our annual Mardi Gras celebration. Guests spanned generations as they danced and feasted on such treats as King cakes.


In March, we celebrated international Francophonie month with a variety of events: Flag raising in Nashua, art exhibits, presentations of French Canadian and Haitian films, lectures and a proclamation in Concord with Governor Sununu. The proclamation was attended by dignitaries from the Quebec delegate and the Consulates general of Canada and France, as well as members, French teachers and students and FAC members and board members.



In April, the FAC partnered with Welcoming Manchester for French Conversation Café to connect recent French immigrants with French speaking community members to enjoy an evening of friendly conversation. We then collaborated with Southern New Hampshire University for a 5K color run to benefit the American Breast Cancer Foundation and the FAC.

In May, we honored the winners of the annual Euclide Gilbert French video contest. This year marked the first time to include a category for college students along the high school category. The 2018 winning videos are currently available by clicking here.



June kicked off our annual Festival d’été with the St-Jean Baptiste celebration. We honored French Teacher of the Year, Edee Takantjas of Belmont High School and Business of the Year, St. Mary’s Bank.  This year’s illustrious Franco-American of the Year was our own Josée Vachon who had toes tapping and everyone smiling as she treated us to a few of her favorite songs.

On June 23rd, the New Hampshire PoutineFest Team, supported by 40 volunteers, welcomed over 1,400 poutine lovers. Although the weather was rainy, spirits were high as festival goers sank their teeth in poutine supplied by 10 participating restaurants. The 2018 champion was the Kettlehead Brewing Company located in Tilton NH. We encourage you to check them out, as well as the other participating restaurants. The list is available at

A quieter July allowed us to regain our collective breath to jump into August at which time we celebrated Acadian Heritage with a family day at Joppa Hill Farm in Bedford. Kids and parents played games, participated in a vocabulary scavenger hunt and enjoyed delicious ice cream donated by Ben & Jerry’s in Manchester. We also said goodbye to staunch friend and supporter of the FAC, Consul General of France, Valéry Freland, as he embarked on the next chapter of his diplomatic career. Although he will be missed, we look forward to forging a new friendship with the new Consul General.

To cap off the Festival d’été, we enjoyed our annual half-way to Mardi Gras. This year, we enjoyed a Bayou vibe & Cajun food at Madear’s Restaurant in Manchester. We filled the space with music, laughter and joie de vivre!


As fall arrived, so did fair season. The FAC participated in several cultural fairs as well as career fairs at local Colleges. We also enjoyed 2 wonderful concerts: Le Choeur en Supplément’Air from Montréal touring in New England and Le Vent du Nord at the Dana Center where FAC members enjoyed St. Anselm Alumni pricing.

The FAC also moved into its new space at the Sullivan Ice Arena. Drop by during our office hours (Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays 9am to 1pm). We’d love see you!

In October we held our first online auction. Thank you to all who donated and bid on items. We are already planning for this year’s. Interested in donating, contact us at [email protected].

We enjoyed another elegant evening of fine dining and wines at the annual Beaujolais Nouveau Gala. Make sure to mark your calendars for next year’s 10th anniversary! We’ll look forward to seeing you November 23rd, 2019!

Finally, we closed of the year with our annual Soirée de Noël & Volunteer Appreciation party. We enjoyed a lively evening of music and fun to celebrate the season and honor our volunteers without whom none of our activities would be possible.


The FAC is already planning various events for 2019. Some new and some recurring and well loved ones.

Make sure you don’t miss out! Sign up to receive our email notifications. Like and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Visit our website regularly, we’re constantly updating our site.

Have an idea for an event or activity? Email us at [email protected], or join us at our Program Committee meetings. Next meetings: January 22nd & February 19th, 2019 at 6pm in the conference room at the Sullivan Ice Arena.

2019 Coming Events:

  • March                         Mardi Gras 
  • March                         Francophonie Month
  • June                            St-Jean Baptiste Celebration
  • June 22nd                 NHPoutineFest
  • June 23rd                  Heritage Baseball Game
  • August                        Halfway to Mardi Gras
  • October                      Pre-Holiday Online Auction Annual
  • November 23rd      Beaujolais Nouveau Gala
  • December                 Soirée de Noël & Volunteer Appreciation

And so much more!

Learn French Today! We offer French language and culture classes for adults and children at all levels of language learning. Click here for details.

Support the Franco-American Centre today!

To become a member or make a tax deductible donation, follow the following links:

Thank you for a most successful 2018.

Here’s to a fabulous 2019!

Joyeuse Saint Valentin! (Happy Valentine’s Day)

Valentine’s Day is a day to celebrate love in all of its many forms whether that’s the love of friends, family, or even a significant other.
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Une Légende Franco-Américaine

Submitted by Joshua Barrière.ACA

Joshua is a native of New Hampshire, Pinardville, currently studying at Laval University in Quebec.

J’aimerais d’abord remercier le Centre franco-américain de m’avoir permis d’écrire un petit billet pour leur blogue. Ensuite, je vais me présenter. J’ai grandi à Pinardville dans le New-Hampshire et j’ai été diplômé de Goffstown Area High School en 2012. L’année suivante, je suis rentré à l’Université Laval où j’ai terminé mon baccalauréat en français, langue seconde avec une concentration en études littéraires. Maintenant, je fais ma maîtrise en études littéraires à la même université. Mon mémoire de maîtrise porte sur les correspondances d’Yvonne Le Maître, journaliste pour plusieurs journaux franco-américains dont L’Étoile et Le Travailleur. D’ailleurs s’il y en a parmi vous qui ont des renseignements sur Yvonne Le Maître que vous jugez importants à me donner, vous pouvez m’appeler au (418) 265-9543.

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