France paid tribute to fighters from Africa and its former colony at a ceremony on Thursday marking the 75th anniversary of the Allied landings in Provence in World War II.
French President, Emmanuel Macron, made the honour when addressing the ceremony held in Saint-Raphael, in the southeast of the country.
He said, “The names, the faces, the lives of these heroes of Africa must be part of our lives as free citizens.”
President of Guinea, Alpha Conde, and President of the Republic of Cote d’Ivoire, Alassane Ouattara, were present at the ceremony.
The choir of the French army sang the song of the Africans, the song of the Commandos of Africa and the Marseillaise.
On August 15, 1944, two months after the Normandy landings, some 450,000 soldiers landed on the Provencal coast, among whom were 260,000 French army combatants, mainly soldiers from Africa.
Known as ‘Dragoon’, the operation focused on liberating Southern France from German occupation.
On its website, the French Presidency said that the episode was also the sacrifice of tens of thousands of Africans, who saved the honour of France.
It said, “They gave their lives, sometimes for territories they had never walked in before and is for a very long time never recognised.
“They are part of our memory, our history.”