France's Relationship with Subsaharan Africa

France's Relationship with Subsaharan Africa

France's Relationship with Subsaharan Africa

France's Relationship with Subsaharan Africa

Synopsis

France granted independence to its former colonies in West and Central Africa in the early 1960s. Nevertheless, thanks to a network of formal and informal agreements with these countries, France continues to wield considerable power and influence over them politically, economically, socially, and culturally. Through the various successive governments of the French Fifth Republic, the African policy of France has been exceptionally constant and stable. This study analyzes how the persistent situation of dominance/dependency and the continuity in foreign policy developed. Important changes that have developed recently in the relationship are analyzed, and suggestions for the future are given.

Excerpt

The African empire that France acquired in the 19th and 20th centuries developed without any clearly established plan. The French people in general did not have any interest in overseas possessions or in large-scale emigration to populate the newly acquired lands. Only Algeria attracted about 1 million French immigrants, with the negative consequences that led to the Algerian war of liberation.

When the European scramble to partition and occupy Africa began in the 1870s, an interested French minority consisting of politicians, merchants, and military officers did not want to be left out of the race for annexing African lands. The politicians recognized that France would be able to restore its pride, lost in the Franco-Prussian War, by acquiring an overseas empire. An extended overseas empire would provide the secure source of tropical raw materials and assured markets for the manufactured goods that the French merchants were seeking. The military officers saw in the acquisition of a large empire the possibility of military intervention and subsequent promotions in military ranks and social status. Therefore, politics, financial gains, and national ambition were equally important in the conquest for a French empire.

France granted independence to its former colonies in West and Central Africa in the early 1960s. Thanks to a network of formal and informal agreements with these countries, France continues to wield considerable power and influence politically, economically, socially, and culturally. Through the various governments of the Fifth Republic, the African policy of France has been exceptionally constant and stable. My goal in writing this book is to inform a general audience, in particular students in African Studies, about the special Franco-African relations as they have developed during colonial times and evolved ever since. Recent important changes that have developed in this relationship are being analyzed, and suggestions are being made for its direction in the future. Emphasis is given to the cultural component of this relationship. The publications regarding postliberation French African policies deal almost . . .

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