"I am back in Paris": one of Joséphine Baker's most famous songs will sound at 5.30 pm, Tuesday November 30, to launch the solemn ceremony dedicated to the entry of the diva into the Pantheon, a monument considered to be "the secular temple of the Republic".

Woman, black, stage artist and born abroad, Joséphine Baker will be only the sixth woman - out of 80 illustrious characters - to join after Simone Veil in 2018. "It will be memorable" with "joy and joy. excitement, "hopes Brian Bouillon-Baker, one of the 12 children adopted by Josephine Baker, 11 of whom are still alive.

With them, several hundred people are expected, including many young people, around Emmanuel Macron who will deliver a speech in front of the doors of the Pantheon.

The Head of State will pay tribute to this "world-renowned artist, engaged in the Resistance, tireless anti-racist activist" who "was involved in all the fights that bring together citizens of good will, in France and around the world".

"She is the embodiment of the French spirit," proclaimed the Head of State, announcing on August 23 his entry into the Pantheon.

"My mother was an idealist who wanted to prove that universal brotherhood was not a utopia," said Brian Bouillon-Baker on France Inter.

>> Discover our webdocumentary: Panthéon: Joséphine Baker, a free woman with a thousand faces

"I have two loves, Paris and my country", his most famous song, will be played by the Air Force Band when the coffin arrives at the Pantheon.


The remains of Joséphine Baker will not be in the coffin, since her family has decided to let her rest in the marine cemetery of Monaco, alongside her last husband and one of her children, not far from Princess Grace who had supported her in the last years of her life.

It is therefore a cenotaph (tomb not containing the body) which will be installed in vault 13 of the crypt, where the writer Maurice Genevoix is ​​already located, who entered the Pantheon last year.

Symbolically, this cenotaph was filled with handles of the four lands which "were dear to Joséphine Baker": her hometown of Saint-Louis, Paris where she knew glory, the castle of Milandes (Dordogne) where she installed her tribe "arc -en-ciel ", and Monaco where she ended her life.

Five months before the presidential election, the Elysee ensures that we should not see a political message in this pantheonization.

"There is really a very broad consensus" and "not a voice was raised" to challenge it, notes an adviser.

However, the ceremony should give Emmanuel Macron the opportunity to celebrate the values ​​he intends to put forward in the campaign.

"Joséphine Baker is the exemplary story" of a personality who "shows will and determination to build her own emancipation", sums up one of her advisers.

With AFP

The summary of the week

France 24 invites you to come back to the news that marked the week

I subscribe

Take international news everywhere with you!

Download the France 24 application