For a long time, Africa was a continent where France, in the context of colonization, had a certain, even complete, influence. Sixty years after independence, current events show that the close ties that prevailed are more strained than ever, even broken in certain countries. This is evidenced by the anti-French sentiment that is spreading in the Sahel, especially in Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger, where the rift is complete.
The loss of French influence no longer needs to be demonstrated. The population condemns – often wrongly – the hegemony of France and the perpetuation of the Françafrique system, which however no longer exists. During a speech to the French community on March 2, 2023 in Gabon, the President of the Republic Emmanuel Macron stated “ this era of Françafrique has long passed and sometimes I have the feeling that mentalities are not developing at the same pace as us when I read, hear, see that we still attribute intentions to France that it does not have, that it no longer has “. And also, any French diplomatic action is immediately interpreted as intolerable interferencewhich contrasts with the increasing influence of countries that have been accepted, such as China, Turkey, India and even Russia.
So, how can we renew our relationship with Africa, especially the French-speaking world? Based on what unites us. Nothing is completely lost, because the history of cooperation between France and Africa consists of interruptions and continuities. As complex as the genesis of these relationships was, it created a component in many wayscommon identity ; in particular the sharing of the French language, French-speaking culture, population mixing, mixed unions, the establishment of African communities in France and the establishment of French communities in Africa. These circumstances created a community of destiny.
Moreover, let’s recall that after the declaration of independence, the idea of building Francophonie was encouraged by African elites such as Léopold Sédar Senghor, the first president of Senegal. Clear proof of the existence of awareness of what unites two peoples and the community of interests that unites us.
Likewise, France still has a certain appeal among a large part of the population. Many African nationals want to join to work and study. Our network of educational institutions is also very valuable and welcomes many young people who embrace our culture. Finally, we have many entrepreneurs who make Africa, both French and English speaking, a privileged market. Our diplomacy must promote this precious asset.
After allimprove France’s image and restart effective cooperation with African countries, we must work to bring people togetherwhich especially includes the fact that they rely on dual citizenship and a French community established on the African continent. Counselors of French living abroad can act in this direction.
The current situation demands that we change our paradigm immediately. New forms of partnership, which are not exclusively military, must be found. This is a requirement sine qua non to rebuild a relationship of respect and longevity.