EDITORIAL COMMENT: Macron cannot wish away colonial legacy

Emmanuel Macron

Emmanuel Macron

TODAY is France’s National Day as the European country celebrates 228 years of the Storming of the Bastille during the French Revolution.

This year’s celebrations come soon after the election of president Emmanuel Macron who succeeded François Hollande on May 14.

However, Bastille Day is being celebrated amid outrage and anger at remarks that the French leader made about Africa, at the just ended G20 Summit in Hamburg, Germany.

Addressing the media, Macron was asked about an economic initiative for Africa’s growth and development, and in response he said that Africa’s problems were “civilisational” and the belief by some in having large families.

Despite the variance in the translation of his remarks, it is quite evident that the terms used by the French leader were not terms of endearment. According to one translation, Macron said, “The challenge of Africa is completely different, it is much deeper. It is civilisational today . . . One of the essential challenges of Africa . . . is that in some countries today seven or eight children (are) born to each woman.”

People from all corners of the world have roundly condemned Macron’s remarks, which do not only sound racist, but supremacist. Not only was he flexing his Big Brother muscle, but the youthful president was unwittingly demonstrating that the stigma and stereotypes from the West will never stop. With the rise of neo-liberal politics and the right wing in Europe, Britain and the United States, it will get worse.

If Macron had wanted to talk about policy issues and how best France can work with Africa, he would just have enunciated his government’s Africa policy. Africa was represented at the G20 Summit. Apart from South African president Jacob Zuma, the African Union Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat was also present.

The French leader must also provide answers for these racial slurs. What did he mean by “civilisational”? Was he alluding to the Western mentality and how they perceive Africa as the so-called “Dark Continent”? Is it also his responsibility to prescribe the demographic make-up of African families?

If Africa has no business in his family life, what gives him that right to try and dictate what is good or bad for Africa? Were these sentiments arising out of a frustrated leader who thinks that the only illegal immigrants and terrorists that have been crossing into and attacking France are from Africa?

It is understandable that some people never see any wrongs being committed by former colonial powers, and are willing to act as their lapdogs?

While campaigning for the presidency, Macron visited Algeria in February, and made a remark being used by racist denialists to support his remarks. He was applauded when he said colonialism was a “crime against humanity”, and this despite the fact that former French colonies remain firmly beholden to it. Macron’s cheerleaders are oblivious to his hypocrisy and double standards.

We have also followed Macron’s Africa approach with interest. When he visited Mali a few days after his inauguration whose interests was he advancing — Mali’s or French interests? With 1 600 French soldiers in the West African country, this could not be for Mali surely.

As Macron celebrates Bastille Day with other Western leaders in attendance, they should realise that there are no-quick fix solutions to the mess created by slavery, colonialism and interference in African countries’ internal affairs.

As we report elsewhere in this issue, Just before French colonies were granted “independence” in the 1960s, France organised and bound them into colonial pacts that see the 14 African states put 65 percent of their foreign currency reserves into the French Treasury, and another 20 percent for financial liabilities.

Africa does not need slave drivers, but equal partners in all areas, especially trade. The West pillaged and plundered this resource rich continent, and we do not need to be lectured about population control.

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  • Masaisai

    This is a man whose national sports teams, besides rugby, are almost entirely black and black as in BLACK!

  • Tom

    Melinda gates said pretty much the same thing and everyone agreed with her. Bag up.

  • Common Sense

    Well one thing you can do is improve your own attitute towards women. How can you say “Out (One?) of the positive actions or contributions we get from African women is giving birth to multiple children and nothing else”… how dare you say that?!

    You are basically exposing the fact that Macron is right….. you have a societal problem if that is your attitude! And that is not caused by Colonialists but your bad attitude, simple…

    • Tapiwa Mubonderi

      African women do not have children by themselves, that statement is critical of all of us. We the people of this place called Africa are not contributing anything else to the progress of humanity because we are nurtured to be mediocre. If there are worthwhile contributions we are doing on a global scale, please mention them. We are busying either waiting to be rescued by foreigners or pretending to be foreigners.

      I did not say President Macron is wrong, I just he is being hypocritical as he is at the apex of the system creating, maintaining and benefitting from such conditions. Yes post colonial Africa has got a societal problems and if it is bad that I acknowledge we are in a bad situation. I have got proof to back my claims of the imperialists complicity in our current situation, its realistic and evidence based. I have offered a solution and way forward from this problem and you need to respect my viewpoint even if you do not agree with it.

  • Tapiwa Mubonderi

    The African is subservient to the colonial master, any leader who has tried to change this has been chastised by the imperialist system. We are like the proverbial monkeys in the cage with a shower who do not eat bananas even after the shower and showered monkeys are gone. You cannot blame the victim and absolve the oppressor, what has been done to remove the Berlin Conference and colonial rule objectives. Who created the structures in Africa?