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Why Can’t France Leave Africa Alone?


“Without Africa, France will have no history in the 21st century” – François Mitterrand, 1957 
“Without Africa, France will fall to the rank of power of the third [world]” – Jacques Chirac, 2008 
“The France, with Europe, would like to be even more involved in the destiny [of Africa] … “- François Hollande, 2013 
” I am from a generation that does not tell Africans what to do. – Emmanuel Macron, 2017

The great white hope of France – Emmanuel Macron – was sold recently in Africa. He was full of jokes and smiles. However, while “innocence of youth” was written    everywhere on the package, the product it contained was  “senile dementia . ” No matter how old the man is – the French attempt to lead Africa is a tired and stupid story. And the man – Macron – is a new French mask worn and stupid.

The mask fell during a public forum in Burkina Faso, when the French army and its presence in Africa were questioned by a girl. In response, Macron hysterically told the local audience that they should applaud French soldiers in the streets of Africa.

The problem was that the day before, a local resident – instead of applauding – had thrown a hand grenade at French soldiers. The next day, some other locals called shouting at the end of colonialism. The militarization of French politics in Africa is starting to feel the rotten occupation.

But when was it different? Since it began to occupy Africa in the XIX th  century France did not wait for anything other than applause. The package, at the beginning of this long African war, contained  “civilization” . But this has never masked the vile racism and basic capitalism that drove the French army across the Sahara.

In a huge pincer movement, which began around 1830 and ended on the eve of the First World War, France slowly but surely conquered most of West Africa and Europe. ‘Central Africa. Moving east from Dakar and south from Algeria, the French army has probably stolen 40% of the continent.

However, while  “France”  was on its way to terrorize Africa, Paris met its Nemesis: Berlin. The Teutonic power awoke and, ironically, began to make France what France was doing to Africa. In a series of wars and occupations (1871, 1914 and 1940), Germany crushed France’s place in the world without mercy. And in 1960, more or less, France was out of Africa. And mature for the revolution. Or the counter-revolution.

The Fifth Republic could not conceal the failure of bourgeois France. May 1968 exposed it to everybody’s eyes and forced her to choose one way or another. It could follow the example of Africa and try to free itself from the culture, economy and politics of imperialism. Or she could try to restore imperialism. And reconquer Africa.

The Fifth Republic chose the second solution. And that has since been a downward movement. The important French Communist Party was rejected (the Socialist Party too, to finish). As was Jean-Paul Sartre. Bourgeois mediocrity has become the rule. And in the 2000s, politicians like Nicolas Sarkozy and philosophers like Bernard-Henri Lévy were ready to bring France back into the arms of NATO (De Gaulle took France out of NATO in 1966) and his imperialism without veil.

France was no longer a European force but a European joke. German neoliberalism dominated the new European century. France could do nothing but prostrate itself before Berlin and its diabolical religion: austerity (cheap labor). There was, however, a place where France could act as  “France” , a place where she could escape the  “will to power”  of Germany: Africa.

The  “will to power”  of France still had a dirty trick in his sleeve: his army in Africa. When it withdrew from the African continent in the 1950s and 1960s, it left behind active military bases that continued to give it weight in Africa. Indeed, according to the Stratfor  website  :

“After independence, 12 [African] countries signed secret national defense agreements with France. The agreements, which have never been made public, allow France to maintain a physical presence in the countries, in exchange for the defense of their national sovereignty [sic] … “


We can guess which countries are signed these harmful agreements: Morocco, Senegal, Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, Tunisia, Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, the Central African Republic, the Gabon and Djibouti. Some others – according to those who know – were later added to the list: Rwanda, Burundi and Zaire (the Democratic Republic of Congo). In any case, the picture was quite clear: before leaving Africa (and even after), France has, like a spider, wove its web around Africa.

What do these arrangements mean in reality? In 2007, the  New York Times  wrote that  “France intervened militarily in Africa nineteen times between 1962 and 1995” . And in 2016,  Stratfor  identified 42 French interventions between 1968 and 2013.

The  New York Times  set the deadline in 1995, because in 1994 France lost to the United States in the strategic battle for Rwanda (one million or more Hutus and Tutsis died in this battle) and millions have been killed in the battles that followed in Congo, etc.). In the years following this turning point in African geopolitics, France’s power in Africa decisively declines – not only because of the US military power (AFRICOM) but also because of the new power. Chinese economy.

Times changed in the 1990s. France lost the  “battles”  for Europe and Africa. She became a second-rate power. Nevertheless, she kept this trick in her sleeve: the obvious and hidden military arrangements she had made in Africa. France’s finger was still on the trigger. The counter-revolution desperately needed a fresh start. And the  “Arab Spring”  gave it.

When Tunisia started to protest in 2010, France responded by offering its  “military power” (that is to say  “technical support and police know-how” ) to its agent in Tunisia: Ben Ali. And when this attempt to repress African independence failed, France waged wars against Libya’s independence in 2011 (Operation Harmattan) and Azawad’s claim for independence (Operation Serval in northern Mali, etc.) in 2013.

In 2014, the situation was such that  Newsweek  claimed that  “France is slowly recovering its former African Empire” . And in 2015,  Business Insider  reported that  “the French army is everywhere in Africa” . Thousands of French soldiers were scattered throughout the Sahara and beyond (Operation Barkhane). But the fact is that they were not fighting to save Africa, but  “France” .

The pathetic attempt to restore bourgeois France (dare to say Bourbon France – because it is so bad in Europe at the moment) has reached the stage where the French army is not only everywhere in Africa but also everywhere in France ( Sentinel Operation). In 2015 – after armed robberies in Paris – the French army began to occupy the streets. Then in 2017, President Macron (the dolphin – the prince?) Is mounted on a  “tank”  for his investiture.

In the uncompetitive French economy (in bourgeois terms), the only competitor seemed to be the French army. It occupied and occupied both sides of the French-speaking Mediterranean. And Macron applauded and applauded. And it offers tax cuts and cheap work to the decrepit bourgeoisie, it offers the military the freedom of the streets. And the freedom of Africa.

Macron claims not to tell Africans what to do. But the French state is another matter. He institutionalized relations between France and Africa (Françafrique). And he refuses to give up his delusions of grandeur. In recent years, he has told Africa in very clear terms what he needs to do with Libya and Azawad (Northern Mali and its environs). And today it brings together African forces (G5 Sahel) as they pursue shadows in the Sahara.

For Macron, history is  “jihadists”  and  “traffickers of human beings . ” But neocolonialism is the ultimate goal. Or the real story is that the French are trying to recreate neocolonialism. French soldiers are the greenhouses of the French state. And while bourgeois France goes out, or slips into the memory hole of history, its claws will dig deep into all the material at hand, in a desperate effort to avoid the inevitable. Africa is this material, the material of the future. While France, despite its machinations, is only a wreck.

The people of Burkina Faso are right to question the presence of the French army in Africa. He knows more than the infant French president. And he has a greater sense of realities than the senile French state. Hand grenades make more sense than applause.



Written by How Africa

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