The Skull beneath the Skin: Africa after the Cold War

By Mark Huband | Go to book overview

13
FRANCE, AFRICA, AND
A PLACE CALLED FASHODA

All the problems we have had in French West Africa have
nothing to do with a desire for independence, but are rooted
in the rivalry between the French and British blocs. British
agents have fomented all our problems.

François Mitterrand

François Mitterrand, who expressed the sentiments cited above several years before France granted independence to its African empire, 1 was probably the last French president after the decolonization to be accorded the semi- imperial status of his predecessors. Much as he would have liked to carry on the tradition, his successor Jacques Chirac lacked the aura and substance that would have accorded him a similar stature. However, times were changing even while Mitterrand was still at the helm of the French Republic. On 7 February 1994, he led seven former French prime ministers and a former French president on a procession which—unknown to all of them—marked the twilight of the long period of their imperial influence in Africa and presaged an end to anglophone-francophone rivalry there.

The foundations of that rivalry had been laid on 17 September 1898, when Jean-Baptiste Marchand, a French emissary charged with establishing a French presence at Fashoda, 700 miles south of Khartoum, was forced to abandon his mission when confronted by forces led by the British general

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The Skull beneath the Skin: Africa after the Cold War
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Contents v
  • Acknowledgments vii
  • Prologue viii
  • Part One - Empty Promises i
  • 1 - Sell the Silver, Steal the Gold 3
  • 2 - The Skull beneath the Skin 31
  • 3 - Great Game, Dirty Game 57
  • Part Two - The Time of the Soldier 79
  • 4 - Whispers and Screams 81
  • 5 - A City on the Lake 97
  • 6 - Juggling the Juntas 115
  • 7 - The Deadly Harvest 137
  • Part Three - Blood of the Ancestors 159
  • 8 - Myths, Chiefs, and Churches 161
  • 9 - Genocide 184
  • 10 - The Spit of the Toad 217
  • Part Four - New World, Old Order 249
  • 11 - Rogue States and Radicals 253
  • 12 - The Mogadishu Line 277
  • 13 - France, Africa, and a Place Called Fashoda 307
  • Epilogue - The Center Cannot Hold 327
  • Notes 335
  • Bibliography 355
  • Index 361
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