Magazine article New African

Cote d'Ivoire: A French Exception; in This Column, Guests Are Given the Opportunity to Express Fully Their Opinions. Mamadou Koulibaly, the Writer of This Guest Column, Is the Speaker of the Ivorian National Assembly, and Is One of the Closest Allies of President Laurent Gbabgo. He Is Known to Be a Staunch Adversary of the Leaders of the Rebellion

Magazine article New African

Cote d'Ivoire: A French Exception; in This Column, Guests Are Given the Opportunity to Express Fully Their Opinions. Mamadou Koulibaly, the Writer of This Guest Column, Is the Speaker of the Ivorian National Assembly, and Is One of the Closest Allies of President Laurent Gbabgo. He Is Known to Be a Staunch Adversary of the Leaders of the Rebellion

Article excerpt

From Abidjan to Bangui via N'Djamena, the policy of the French president, Jacques Chirac, is full of contortions that bring no grace to French diplomacy. Current events in these three capitals appear to sum up what Chirac's France has been striving to put forward as a "coherent" policy in Africa.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

As Chirac prepares to leave office in May 2007, what will be his legacy in Africa? How bogged down will the French army be in Africa? For the people of Africa who are wondering about the heavy silence of the French intelligentsia, what will be the assessment of Chirac's 12 years in office? And what are the prospects for the future? Let's start by staging Voltaire in relation to the "Black Code" (a set of humiliating rules against black people written by Napoleon).

Candide and Cacambo meet a negro who tells them about his little and miserable life. He owes his misfortune to a white slave trader. Here is an abstract from Voltaire as presented by Claude Lamirand on his wonderful website www.action-liberale.org.

"Approaching the town, they met a Negro who was lying on the ground. He was half-dressed with blue linen underpants, and his left leg and right hand were missing. 'Oh, dear God!', said Candide in Dutch, 'what are you doing here, my friend, in this dreadful condition?'

'I am waiting for my master, Mr Vanderdendur, the famous merchant dealer,' answered the Negro.

"Did this Mr Vanderdendur do that to you?," asked Candide.

'Yes, sir,' said the Negro, 'it is the usual treatment. Twice a year, we are given linen underpants. When working at the sugar plant, if one of our fingers is caught in the grindstone, our hand is cut; when we try to escape, our leg is also cut. I was in both cases. This is the price we pay for you to eat sugar in Europe.

'And yet, when my mother sold me for 10 patagonian crowns on the Guinea coast, she told me: "My dear son, bless our gods and keep on worshipping them, they will bring you happiness, being the slave of our white masters is an honour, and you are making your father's and mother's fortune."

'Alas! I don't know if I made their fortune, but they did not make mine. Dogs, monkeys and parrots are a thousand times more fortunate than we are. Every Sunday the Dutch gods that converted me say that we all are white and black, sons of Adam. I am not a genealogist, but, if those preachers are telling the truth, we all are first cousins. And yet, you will agree that one could not treat one's parents in such an awful manner'."

There we are. Alas! The French army and diplomacy are both facing blazing fronts, exploding one after the other in Africa. The French army is incapable of changing its mentality or free itself from the misadventures of its colonial expeditions. French diplomacy in Africa, on the other hand, has always been pushed into the background by the army as it is the Defence Ministry that dictates the orientation of France's relationships with its former African colonies.

French diplomats posted to Africa, who still have a sense of what the art of diplomacy should be, must feel rather cramped in the straightjacket imposed by Chirac's policy. No wonder, the twilight of Chirac's Elysean power comes with a stream of direct interventions of the French army in the ex-colonies.

What exactly does Chirac want for FrancoAfrica? A general conflagration? Or does he want to surpass Francois Mitterand's Rwandan record?

Since the French army came into open conflict with Cote d'Ivoire, the African people have witnessed Chirac's double-edged polices. When Chirac professes that "Africa is not ready for democracy"--by the way, he has never retracted or apologised for his words--he is true to himself and expresses his political convictions. As a result, he has tried to repress whoever craves for more liberty, and this, with the silent consent of the French intelligentsia. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.