In the shade of an impressive collection of beer kegs and provisions of all kinds, a female boxer is lounging, carelessly stretching a paw. Her name is Luma, “almost like the newspaper”. “There’s only her who doesn’t work”, laughs Didier. Marcel, mustache in battle, the troop leader of the PCF militants of the Charente federation, 62 years old and retired from national education, invites us to take a tour of his stand.
Discover the titanic assembly of this ephemeral city.
Indeed, it takes all the detachment the dogs can show to ignore the commotion that animates Base 217, in the heart of Essonne, in view of the Festival of Humanity this weekend. At the Charentais stand, there is what is ready (the kitchen “Guaranteed without can opener or preserver”, sea bass). And what still needs to be ( “the showers, that’s not it yet, we don’t have the water supply yet”). “It’s huge, there’s a lot of work, difficulties, but this change of site is good for us. Cheer up, let’s stick together! Let’s be proud of this Feast! »
Ephemeral small town
Walking through the deserted alleys of the Base, we measure the titanic work required for this small ephemeral city to rise from the ground. In a few days, hundreds of thousands of visitors will write a new page in the history of the Fête de l’Humanité. The volunteer editors have largely begun the preface. Like every year, they have arrived for a week, sometimes two or three. From Charente, Hauts-de-Seine, Côte-d’Or… After the Notre-Dame fire, Macron praised the French, “people of builders”. Those of Huma have their own cathedrals, the high mass is popular, united and festive.
Without this army of volunteers, no Party. Because if the capitals are already planted, it remains to install the equipment, connect the electrical groups, ensure the water supply, mount the banners and signs, dig the trenches for the evacuation of the toilets… At the Village du monde, which will welcome activists and personalities from all continents, Book workers set up 90 stands. “The festival-goers have three days of celebration, we have two weeks, that’s great,” Thierry smiled. The game is worth it: “When, a few months after the Feast, you see one of the Kurdish stand managers on television, fighting the Islamist forces in Kobané, it’s incredible”recalls Xavier.
On the Charentais side, we feature: “They say that it’s when the Charente arrives that the Fête de l’Huma begins”. As a “pioneer stand”, the federation has, like others, the responsibility of ensuring the catering of the other builders who arrive as they come. And it pays to have stock. The anecdote is passed on among volunteers. More than twenty years ago, a Parisian stand would have worked so well upstream, day and night, that it remained closed for the three days of the Festival, for lack of a drop of wine or a loaf of bread to offer to the public. . “It’s good, we have something to see coming”reassures Denis.
Here, mutual aid prevails
The builders of the Côte-d’Or regularly visit it. They arrived the day before. Jean-Marie, long neck and gray beard, and Brice, Lenin pin pinned to his cap, battle with a backhoe driven by Julien, from the staff of the Festival. The floor of the stand must be flattened to lay the floor on it, at the risk of having a curious leaning decoration. “It was not planned but a Festival of Huma without hassle is not really one”, laughs Jean-Marc. Electrician by profession, this communist from Dijon manages the electrical installation and the lighting of the stand. Then, his task accomplished, he will go and help the comrades in the aisles next door. Here, mutual aid prevails. The mechanics are well established: the first ones installed help the following ones in their preparations and so on. Cascading solidarity. The trickle for real. “This is what differentiates the Festival from other festivals, this team spirit, where everyone pitches in, works together, hassles, exchanges, debates”rejoices Yann.
To find all the programming of the Fête de l’Humanité 2022: concerts, debates, exhibitions… and all the useful information, it’s here!
He is retired, but a lot of volunteers spend part of their holidays to build the Fête de l’Humanité. Like Romain, in his thirties: “It’s priceless, I’m having fun. The ambiance, the atmosphere, the camaraderie, you don’t get that anywhere else”. The Charentais is part of the “Bérégeots”, a “brotherhood” which presents each year, on the eve of the Festival, three new berets to stand builders who have “shed the most their sweat”, and will in turn join the ranks of the association. Given the work done, the aspirants will not be lacking.