The president is rebuffing Frances colonial responsibilities, says Eliza Anyangwe, a scribe specialising in Africa issues
Frances newly elected president, Emmanuel Macron, when asked in a news conference at the G20 summit in Hamburg why “there werent” Marshall plan for Africa, has pointed out that Africa had civilisational questions . He added that part of the challenge facing the continent was the countries that still have seven to eight offsprings per woman.
The condemnation online was speedy and relentless. The US political scientist Laura Seay summarised the problem numerous had with Macrons messages in a range of tweets: It is RICH for a French president to criticise Africa this route, she said. Frances colonial conjecture was called the mission civilisatrice, which purported to introduce all the benefits of Frenchness to the continent. Part of members of the mission was the institutionalisation of Catholicism as government officials religion of French colonial domains in Africa.
We hear all kinds of effects of members of the mission civilisatrice in Francophone Africa today, she continued, like the churchs learning against contraceptive call, which most African adherents take very seriously. Do women working in Francophone Africa want to give birth to far more progenies than they can reasonably feed, clothe, and educate? I doubt most do.
Macrons words had commentators wished to know whether the honeymoon was now over as a chink is contained in the Golden Boys armour, but perhaps the signs were there all along. While still campaigning for the presidency, Macron called Frances colonial history in Algeria a crime against humanity. But this centrist politician speedily changed his sentiment when his censure of Frances merciless past was met with review at home. In a lecture in the south-eastern metropolitan of Toulon, Macron apologised for having pained voters feelings, and dumbed down his accusation to speak instead of the need for France to face its complex past. But what about the feelings of the millions of Africans you casually slur, Monsieur Macron?
It does seem to me that despite his youth and vitality, the brand-new chairwoman is sticking to a very old line when it comes to Frances position on Africa. Take Nicolas Sarkozy, who on a trip to Dakar, in Senegal, in 2007 said that the tragedy of Africa is that the African has not fully entered into biography … They have never truly launched themselves into the future. The African peasant only knew the eternal rehabilitation of experience, observed by the endless repetition of the same gestures and the same messages. Delivered with the verse you would expect from a Frenchman, erroneous and snobbish as inferno but too plain old prejudiced. I would say that, in large-scale portion, Africans havent entered into biography because Europeans preserve writing them out of it. But thats for another day.
Many will criticize the comparison to the harder-right Sarkozy. And conceded, Macrons full response in Hamburg, while rambling and hamfisted, “isnt too” disparate from what a classical exploitation economist might say: stable government, bribery, population boom as economic headache. But for a chairman whose poll victory was steeped with the promise of radical change, reverberating like a development economist is exactly the problem.
Macrons evidences build the blood simmer not because they are novel but since they are attain no mention of the root causes of the challenges of which the president speaks. Gone is the lucid, welcome admission that Frances role in its former colonies was anything but admirable. He now says good-for-nothing of the fact that Frances future is indelibly tied to that of its former colonies, and that the relation between the two is still largely neocolonial: Francophone Africa still sells heavily with France, and French firms particularly in the extractive industries have a strong spirit on the continent.
More controversially, Frances affair with its former colonies known as Franafrique is perhaps best captured by the use of the CFA franc currency, which offers little benefit to the Francophone commonwealths. As the Cameroonian journalist Julie Owono has written :~ ATAGEND CFA zone countries have to deposit 50% of their currency modesties into a so-called actions account managed by the French asset.
Militarily, France likewise continues to involve itself in issues of state in its former colonies, but is often silent on human and civil rights abuses. Again, look at Cameroon, where the strongman Paul Biya imprisons adversaries with no charge, convenes peaceful protest with savagery, and turns off the internet in order to silence his beings all of which has elicited not a peep from the French regime.
The test of Macrons presidency is his foreign policy, particularly on Africa. At the moment hes doing a fine enterprise of demonstrating “he il be” slash from the same cloth as every chairman who has come before him: borrowing a paternalistic tone and so pleased to see you both moralise, while profiting from the carnage France facilitated make to which, at best, he turns a blind eye.