Uncle Ho’s imprint in Marseille

The authorities of Marseille City, the Vietnamese Embassy in France, the French Communist Party, and La Marseillaise Newspaper, along with overseas Vietnamese in France, solemnly organised a ceremony to unveil a plaque commemorating President Ho Chi Minh as part of the activities marking 110 years since the late President Ho Chi Minh (who took the name Nguyen Van Ba) first set foot in France.

Lydia Samarbakhsh speaks at the ceremony.
Lydia Samarbakhsh speaks at the ceremony.

The ceremony took place in the autumn morning in France, the sky was clear blue, the trees put on their blue, yellow, and red coats like beautiful flowers, showing off their colours with the bright yellow sun after two days of non-stop rain.

The granite plaque is mounted on a front wall of the French newspaper’s headquarters in Marseille, overlooking Place aux Huiles, only 200 meters from the ancient harbour (Vieux Port), where Uncle Ho first set foot in France. The sign is engraved with the words in French with the content: "In Marseille, in 1911, President Ho Chi Minh (who took the name Nguyen Van Ba) first set foot in France, starting his long journey to seek ways for national salvation.".

Speaking at the ceremony, Vietnamese Ambassador to France Dinh Toan Thang expressed his emotion and honour to attend the ceremony. He thanked the authorities of Marseille City for attaching a historical plaque to commemorate President Ho Chi Minh on the 110th anniversary of his first arrival in France. The Ambassador highly appreciated the warm sentiments of leaders and people of Marseille, who consider the commemorative plaque as part of the city's cultural heritage.

On behalf of the authorities of Marseille City, deputy mayor of Marseille Audrey Garino affirmed the solidarity and friendship between France and Vietnam. She said that the memorial plaque is not only a testament to the history, but also shows the good friendship between the two peoples. “That is the history we remember today, the history that led President Ho Chi Minh to the city and people of Marseille in his long, eventful life,”, she said.

Lydia Samarbakhsh, Politburo member and Head of the French Communist Party (PCF)’s International Division, said: "By attaching a plaque commemorating President Ho Chi Minh's first arrival in France on a front wall of the La Marseillaise Newspaper’s headquarters, we want to express our respects to him. We want to emphasise the importance of him, the will to fight for the liberation of his people and the oppressed peoples of the world. At the French Socialist Party’s 18th congress, held in the city of Tours in 1920, Nguyen Ai Quoc (President Ho Chi Minh) became one of the founding members of the French Communist Party.".

Thu Thuy, a long-time overseas Vietnamese living near the ancient harbour of Marseille, said : " Through reading history, I am extremely proud to know that I live in the city where Uncle first set foot in France to seek a way to save the country, liberating the nation from the yoke of colonialism and feudalism. I think that by attaching a memorial plaque about Uncle Ho here, the people of Marseille and overseas Vietnamese will know more about the Uncle Ho's imprint left and Vietnam".

On June 5, 1911, from Nha Rong Harbour in Saigon, a young patriot named Nguyen Tat Thanh, who later became President Ho Chi Minh, was determined to board the Amiral Latouche Tréville, with a job as a kitchen assistant on the ship, to fulfil the ambition of liberating the country from the slavery of the colonists and empires. After more than a month at sea, with many different stops, the ship anchored in the port of Marseille on July 6, 1911.

As the oldest port city in France, Marseille has a history of more than 2,600 years and is the second largest city in France. Currently, the Vietnamese community living and working in Marseille is about 20,000 people, the second largest after Paris, most of them are descendants of generations of Vietnamese who came to France from the first years of the 20th century by sea.

Translated by NDO