Wednesday, October 29, 2008

France, La Francophonie, French and African dictators

France, La Francophonie, French and African dictators

From the 17 to 19 of October 2008, leaders of countries with French as a common language met in Quebec, Canada as part was what was known as the 12 summit of La Francophonie. Its Secretary General and long-time ex president of Senegal, Abdou Diouf, chaired the deliberations which ended in the absence of the protagonist France, as its Head of State, Nicholas Sarkozy had left for the USA. Far beyond promoting the French language, which according to the website of La Francophonie, is spoken by 200 million people in 54 member states, La Francophonie also has the responsibility of improving human rights, democracy and economic cooperation.

But within most of Francophone Africa, many people have a very negative impression of French, France and La Francophonie. “It would appear all trouble and suffering in Africa is mostly in Francophone Africa” says Matia K, a Ugandan student in Orebro, Sweden. Territories where French is spoken are ridden with endless conflict allegedly being fuelled by its colonial masters be it in countries like Rwanda, Congo, Chad, DRC, Central Africa Republic, Senegal, Cote D' Ivoire etc.

French is the second language spoken world wide after English but this has not deterred some countries and people from relegating the language to the background. On October 28, The Washington Post wrote “In another blow to the language of love, the Rwandan government has decided to change instruction in schools from French to English”. This was just a confirmation of what some people had been suspecting.

Rwanda's Minister for Education, Theoneste Mutsindashyaka said “When you look at the French-speaking countries -- it's really just France, and a small part of Belgium and a small part of Switzerland… Most countries worldwide, speak English. Even in China, they speak English. Even Belgium, if you go to the Flemish areas, they speak English, not French." According to him, the decision of his country, was purely economic and had nothing to do with the country's souring relationship with France.

Rwanda recently accused the French government of taking part in the 1994 genocide through the arming of the former Rwandan army and ethnic Hutu militias. An estimated 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were slaughtered in just a hundred days. France also accused Rwandan President, Paul Kagame, of involvement in the massacre.

Though the rough diplomatic relations between France and Rwanda have been dismissed as reason for the “reclassification of French as the third Language, after English and the native language of Rwanda, the unsmooth political relationship cannot be totally denied.

In most of French colonies or Trust Territories like Cameroon, Chad, Gabon, Congo etc the economic exploitation, human right abuses, political victimisation by its neo-colonial regimes and the domination by the aristocratic class, etc, is said to be under the indirect influence of France. Dieudonne Kibungi, a Burundian refugee in Sweden believes France, just as most colonisers, is responsible for the ills in most ex colonies.

France is accused to have maintained and supported dictators. It has been accused of supporting rebels to destabilise sovereign governments like the case of Les Forces Nouvelle in Cote d ‘ Ivoire, the assassination of Thomas Sankara of Burkina Faso, Um Nyobe of Cameroon, etc. In an interview with a Cameroonian monthly journal Les Cahiers de Mutations, Vol 048, Dec 2007, page 8-9 , Dr Abel Eyinga, accused France of forcing former Cameroonian president Ahidjo to step down in favour of another neo colonial agent Paul Biya and the scenario may likely repeat with Biya soon.

The longest serving dictators are all products of French system of governance.

France was implicated in the genocide in Rwanda, French companies have been involved in several scandals among which was that of Elf in Congo etc.

The adopting of English by Rwanda can therefore be interpreted as a clear indication of the rejection of French intrigues in Africa, opines Pascal Lumi.

So many African seems to have supported this move by Rwanda which according to some, was already going in some areas.

Barrister Leonard Bekong, a Legal expert in USA says, it is not only a Rwandan issue. “Recently in Cameroon, most French speaking parents have begun to undertake such decisions without bringing the state into it.Most have simply decided to send their children to English speaking schools in Yaounde, Douala etc. If you visit some of those high profile schools from the base, you will notice that French speaking Cameroonians out number the English speakers in number.”

Ben Bezejou, a University professor in the USA also notes that the decision is not only interesting but well planned. “The leaders of this country are very courageous to embark on this project.”

However, as of now, only 5 percent of Rwandans speak English and it will therefore be an uphill task, to effectively change the official language.

In several francophone countries, the degree of human abuses is just unimaginable. The case of Cameroon, Chad, Central Africa, Congo Brazzaville, Gabon, Congo Kinshasa etc are glaring.

The reclassification of French as secondary language may also fall under the framework of the RUPTURE with African countries, announced by French President, Nicholas Sakorzy, when he took office in 2006.

If this rupture could then leave from language to lessen the implication of France in the economic and political life of its former colonies, this could be very advantageous for Africans. This is the view of Rayong Ngantcha, a Cameroon resident in London and strongly supported by political parties in Cameroon such as the Movement for African New Independence, MANIDEM, headed by Anicet Ekane and Union des Populations du Cameroon UPC S-Mackit faction.

La Francophonie has on several occasions validated brutality and fraud. During the 2004 elections in Cameroon, while the Commonwealth Observer Mission led by former Canadian Prime Minister, Hon Joe Clarke, expressed worries on the conduct of election, La Francophonie delegation validated fraud, together with a group of ex American congressmen paid to monitor the elections.

In Mutengene La Francophonie monitors drove passed disenfranchised voters who were protesting as “unqualified” people voted several times. They drove passed, but were quick enough to conclude that the elections were totally free.

The abandonment of French as an official language could be extended to the neo-colonial economic, political and human right policies of France in its related colonies.

The adoption of national indigenous languages by African countries will also be a sign of more emancipation.

Agendia Aloysius


Anonymous said...

A very biased article. How can one say that only Francophone African countries fail. What's about the civil wars in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Uganda, the desasters in Zimbabwe, the chaos in Nigeria, the turmoil in Kenya. The conflicts in the Congo have an ethnic origin, so in Côte-d'Ivoire, in Chad and in Rwanda. The option of English in Rwanda has much to do with the anglophone elites who were established by the US and the British. We can be sure that such decisions can be considered under the rivalry between France and the Anglo-Americans. But accusing France of all miseries in Africa, we are not able to get aware of the inner conflicts of this continent. And besides I miss Kagame in your graphic. Is he a better dictator than the others because he does not like the French, because he speaks the language of his English masters?

Ben Ndim said...

It is never too late to cry out against cruelty perpertuted upon you by your oppressor" Africans from French speaking Africa have had the scales that blinded them fall off and therefore can now see clearly. I have always bemoaned this cruelty and shabby treatment given French Africa by France. It is usually immaginable to believe that these Countries economy is controled from France though they claim independence. The day that full Independence shall be granted to French Africa, a lot of economic advancement shall be witnessed. France should learn from Britain and other European Countries not to meddle in the internal affairs of these Countries. France should equally prevent the damaging role played by French multi-national corporations in Africa. For example the excessive sponsorship of coup d'etats and election engineering. Dictatorship is the hall mark of bad leadership supported by France for their selfish interest against that of the citizens of that state and nation.