Francafrique, on Its Last Legs?

By Noury, Valerie | New African, July 2010 | Go to article overview

Francafrique, on Its Last Legs?


Noury, Valerie, New African


Francafrique is no longer what it used to be. The reality of commercial interests and growing autonomy now take precedence over the political pirouetting that once dictated the survival of French Africa. But will Nicolas Sarkozy be the first French president to recognise that the greatest benefits for both France and the nations formerly regarded as France's "sphere of influence" are best gained through negotiating with them as equals, and not client states? Valerie Noury reports from Paris.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

IT WAS THE FORMER PRESIDENT OF Cote d'Ivoire, Felix Houphouet-Boigny, who first coined the epithet "Francafrique" in 1955 to characterise the good relations he wished to establish with France. Later, this expression became associated particularly with the work of Jacques Foccart, the chief advisor on African policy under French presidents Charles de Gaulle and Georges Pompidou--his presence behind the scenes made it possible for the machinations of many successive French governments until his death in March 1997.

Foccart was instrumental in the negotiation of various bilateral cooperation accords (relating to matters of finance and the economy, culture and education, and, of course, the military) with the then newly independent African states.

Foccart's emblematic label, to say the very least, dictated French policy towards Africa: in this regard he was without peer. This led him to be described as the most influential man in the Fifth Republic after De Gaulle. Given his knowledge, experience and invaluable address book, Foccart was brought back to the Elysee Palace in 1995 by Jacques Chirac--even at the age of 81. The writer and economist, Francois-Xavier Verschave, also adopted the term "Francafrique". For Verschave, however, "Francafrique" is "the longest scandal concerning the Republic", an outrage that has cut across every French government since De Gaulle. Verschave underlines three general traits that characterise Franco-African relations--opacity of information, crimes where Africans are always the victims and the complicity of African governments.

In 1960, De Gaulle understood that it was time to grant independence to the French colonies of Africa. France was to be a close friend of Africa, sharing its values in striving to encourage development and democracy. Yet many accuse Jacques Foccart of being "the man in the shadows", with the task of maintaining dependence; using secret and often illegal methods. As many ex-colonial powers did at the time, and still attempt today, he selected heads of state who were proven friends of France. This often led to corruption, and sometimes war. The accusations are extremely serious--thousands of civilians massacred in Cameroon after 1956, a Madagascan resistance broken in 1947, electoral fraud and assassinations. Yet to the guardians of this new order, Paris appeared generous--trading a share of income from raw materials for a share of development aid.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

In 1960, independence flourished across Africa. Fourteen countries were no longer under direct French rule, simultaneously Belgium let Congo go, giving it independence on 30 June 1960, and Somalia and Nigeria broke from British control.

After 50 years of independence, what is left of the network of French influence in its former colonies in Africa? Has the notion of "Francafrique" been left in the past and is its influence today greatly exaggerated? It is clear that we are no longer in the era of Foccart: France's influence has severely diminished. It can no longer operate in its previously presumed zone of influence without acknowledging its diminishing share of the cake, a share which had severely and irreparably shrunk.

Antoine Glaser, head of La Lettre du Continent, states that "Africa has globalised much faster than France". The issue is evidently complex. France cannot ignore its past nor can African heads of state be completely exonerated from their responsibilities. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Francafrique, on Its Last Legs?
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    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.