The French policy in Africa is frequently deemed neo-colonialist. France would enduringly attempt to keep its former colonies within its sphere of influence for economic and political reasons. Cases in point are the lyrics of the song Françafrique by the Ivorian descent artist Tiken Jah Fakoly: Ils nous vendent des armes / Pendant que nous nous battons / Ils pillent nos richesses / Et se disent être surpris de voir l'Afrique toujours en guerre (They sell us weapons / While we are at war / They loot our wealth / And pretend to be surprised to see Africa always at war). The expression Françafrique was used by Felix Houphouet-Boigny for the first time in 1955. It was meant to qualify the good French African relationship. Then, the set phrase became more negative: François-Xavier Verschave mentioned the Françafrique as a scandal in 1999 . This latter policy means that French leaders aim at leading the former French African Empire through indirect means, generating military, economic and political dependencies. Paradoxically enough, the French cooperation policy has undoubtedly been one of the main engines of Africa's development. What has been the role of France in its former sub-Saharan African colonies since 1960? Can we draw a line between economic, cultural and military backing and imperialism?
The different types of cooperation appeared to me as an effective method of analysis. That is why in a first part, we will focus on military cooperation. In a second part, we will consider economic cooperation policies. In the last part, we will get a look at cultural cooperation.
[...] Conclusion France has played a key role in sub-Saharan Africa since the decolonization. To some extent, the French overseas empire has not disappeared right after decolonization. Indeed, since 1960, French leaders have designed policies aimed at maintaining stability and promoting development in Africa. Supporting any scheme able to maintain stability is an economically sensible thought since it enables French companies to do business in Africa. Moreover, many former settlers stayed in African countries after their independencies so as to set-up their own business. [...]
[...] In the latter years, French governments seem to step back from Africa and get more involved in multilateral operations. By way of symbol, a few days after Chirac's victory in 1995, Bob Denard was arrested by French troops sent to the Comoros while he was attempting to achieve his fourth coup in the islands. In 1995, the French army released its scheme to reduce in size its military bases in Africa. Finally, French army bases settled in Central African Republic have closed and French military staff permanently established in Chad has been divided by six in the ten past years. [...]
[...] It is also the first time an African country's people points at the French attitude in Africa on such a great scale. Anyway, Ivorian Coast seems to be in a deadlock, and the French army is stuck in there. It is even said that Ivorian coast on the Edge of Secession”. The myth of Western Africa's prosperity under the French support has collapsed and the French people settled in the country are back to their homeland. II Economical cooperation Cooperation agreements and aid The French Official Development Aid (ODA) amounts 7.4 billion euros in 2005 ( of the GDP) of these funds are poured through bilateral agreements. [...]
[...] Actually this long run policy is able to tighten the bound between France and African countries since African leading people are raised in a French environment. Francophonie The French network of cultural institutions abroad amounts 430 cultural centres in 150 countries, mostly referred to as “Alliances Françaises”. These associations are widely subsidised by the Foreign affairs ministry which also detaches more than 500 agents so as to spread the French cultural influence abroad. These institutions are first and foremost meant to promote French as a world wide language. [...]
[...] Since 1975 and the military assistance treaty signed by Valery Giscard d'Estaing and Juvenal Habyarimana, French and Rwandese leaders remained in very good terms. Mitterrand's both son and head of the African cell, Jean- Christophe Mitterrand and Habyarimana's son used to be friends. The French army trained Rwandese troops. During and after the conflict, France was accused of delivering arms to the Hutus. In January 1994, the BBC reported that a French aircraft loaded with mortars was confiscated by the UNAMIR in Kigali's airport. [...]
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