Graphic: Timothy Alexander / African News Agency (ANA)
By Sputnik contributor
Paris still displays a “paternalistic, condescending and contemptuous attitude towards Africa”, a Nigerian essayist told Sputnik. His statement follows Emmanuel Macron’s accusations against Russia for its so-called “predatory” ambitions on the continent.
The French president recently denounced Russia’s “predatory project” on the African continent, but how much leeway does Paris have for itself? Nassirou Bodo Seyni, essayist and member of the Tous Pour La République political movement, commented on the situation for Sputnik.
According to Bodo Seyni, France has always expressed that feeling when partners want to come and work in Africa: “It goes without saying that Macron believes that since they are predators, everyone else is.”
“He thinks that by attacking Russia and other partners in Africa, such as Turkey and China, that he can make France climb back up the slope,” despite Paris “losing influence in colonial spaces of its own,” he stated.
On the sidelines of the French-speaking countries’ summit in Tunisia, Emmanuel Macron was asked to respond to criticism that Paris exploited its economic and historical ties with its former colonies to serve its own interests.
The French president responded that “this perception [was] fed by others”, by “influencers paid by the Russians.”
“You just have to go and see what is happening right now in the Central African Republic or elsewhere to see very clearly the Russian project that is at work there when France is jostled. It is a project of predation,” he said.
‘Inheritors’ of ‘Slavery’
The Nigerian essayist also questioned Macron’s claim that neither he nor the African youth have ever experienced colonisation. “If he puts forward this idea, it means that the President ‘lacks historical awareness’,” Nassirou Bodo Seyni said.
“We have a memory […] and we are all, as Africans, like him as French, fruits of that past, whether it is a glorious past, or a slave past. We are all heirs of this past, which we must fully understand.”
When a person is born in 1980, his or her parents may have come “from colonisation,” the specialist explained. Drawing a parallel, he recalled that Macron “was born in a France, which benefited [and] still benefits from this colonization and which has […] plundered Africa from the point of view of natural riches, from the cultural point of view, which has destroyed and deconstructed Africa in its basic structural foundations.”
According to Bodo Seyni, it would be useful for France’s head of state to “work on his awareness of history, especially of Franco-African relations,” in the name of “partnerships that he would like to establish with Africans.”
Comparing the attitude of powers like China, Russia or Turkey towards Africa, France lacks respect, he argued.
“Regardless of what one may criticize [these powers] of, they show respect for the sovereignty of our countries, for the humanities of the African people. […] This does not mean that they are perfect, there are some issues on their level [but] other ones, yet they will never show us disrespect,” Bodo Seyni concluded.
This article was first published in Sputnik