Macron fights France’s bloody history in Africa


For several decades the severed heads of Algerian resistance fighters were kept in the basement of the Museum of Man in Paris. In July Emmanuel Macron sent them home to Algeria, which for its president, Abdelmajid Tebboune, means that the French acknowledge a massacre that took place more than 170 years ago.

For Macron, is part of their efforts to project another image of France, especially when ethnic conflicts in the country have been greatly aggravated by the Black Lives Matter protests against police violence.

He October 21 Macron is willing to negotiate a French-backed plan for African debt relief. The French president does not expect to receive a special status. He’s just fighting for preserve the historical role of France in a part of the continent that dominated during more than a century, destaca Bloomberg.
Macron says he wants to return more African relics and artifacts stolen during the colonial era. The president supports the efforts made in West Africa to part with the common currency backed by France, and even promises to open files on the genocide that took place under a government backed by his country in Rwanda.
With more than 1,000 million people increasingly urbanized and driving rapid economic growth, Africa is attracting the interest of rising powers like China, Russia, the Arab Gulf States and Turkey, which means the continent’s leaders are no longer so reliant on France, while Macron’s own efforts to build bridges are held back by the political threat that exists in his country, writes Bloomberg.

When Macron took office three years ago, the area next to the French base in Djibouti It was empty. When he visited her in March 2019, was occupied by Chinese military installations that with their enormous scale could dwarf the French presence in the region. The President of Djibouti, Ismail Omar Guellé, lives in a palace also built by the Chinese. To make matters worse, the small country is connected to neighboring Ethiopia by a new railway also built by the Chinese.
Not only trade and investment give China and Turkey an advantage in Africa. Bloomberg writes that the most important thing is that these countries don’t have to deal with colonial history looming over France and other European powers.
Erdogan tries to present Turkey as a benevolent alternative wholeheartedly supporting Islam, as it defies European influence in the eastern Mediterranean and in Libya.

“The history of Africa is literally the history of France. You are the ones who killed a million people in Algeria. You are the ones who killed 800,000 in Rwanda. You cannot teach us a lesson,” Erdogan said in one of his speeches. televised in September addressing Macron directly.

Social tensions in French cities and loss of influence abroad they go back to the same problem: France’s failure to confront its bloody past, ensures Brahim Senouci, professor of physics at the University of Cergy-Pontoise (France). For 10 years he campaigned for the skulls of the fighters to be returned to Algeria.

“Macron is on the front lines of this battle and he is fighting for the survival of France’s place in the world,” he said in an interview.

After a number of countries in the northern part of Africa achieved independence about 60 years ago, Charles de Gaulle established a network of relationships to maintain French influence.
Paris provided military backing to friendly regimes in exchange for diplomatic support and lucrative deals for their companies, often turning a blind eye to domestic abuses, the outlet explains. During the French nuclear tests thousands of Algerians were exposed to radiation, even after they had won independence. in 1962.
Past presidents have condemned this legacy. But none of them have tried to do much in this regard. Macron, at 42, is the first French leader born after the colonial era. He described the French actions in Algeria as “crime against humanity”. This speech is unprecedented and unusual for a presidential candidate, writes Bloomberg.

Of all the former African territories of France, Algeria was the hardest hit, as the country was run as another part of the French state and did not gain independence until after a war that left huge wounds on French society.

An official close to the president, quoted by Bloomberg, said Macron believes France has for years taken its relationship with its former colonies for granted. Now he has woken up to the fact that he has a lot of work to do, he says. In turn, Macron argued October 2 that France also needs to come to a new understanding of its past.

“[Francia] It has an unresolved trauma with events that have laid the foundations for our collective psyche, our project, the way we see ourselves, “the French president emphasized.

The scale of the challenge in Africa became painfully obvious to the president during a visit to France’s largest foreign military base in Djibouti in 2019.
Once the remains of the Algerian fighters had been buried in summer, the president Tebboune he demanded that Macron officially apologize and open files on the war of independence.

In Mali protesters burned the French flag in 2019 and blamed French troops for not ending an Islamist insurgency that France was supporting since 2013. “Our common history remains important,” said the country’s former prime minister, Soumeylou Boubeye Maiga. “But young Malians have other priorities, they identify as Africans first and foremost,” he added.

In turn, Macron tries to move away from crisis management to focus on cooperation in the fields of education, entrepreneurship, culture and sports. The president wants France to be seen as a champion of African interests, says an official familiar with French politics cited by Bloomberg. When COVID-19 hit Africa, Macron asked for a moratorium on debt and called on the European allies to seek a united response.

Macron learned the price of talking about history during the presidential campaign of 2017, when his comments on Algeria sparked fierce attacks from Marine Le Pen.
The Algerian grandfather of Gerald Darmanin, assistant to the former president Nicolas sarkozy, fought alongside the French in the war of independence. His grandson says Macron should be ashamed. At the same time, Francois Fillon, the candidate of the right, highlights the “hatred of Macron” towards French history. In TolónWhere many settlers fled after the war, angry voters criticized Macron for “treason.”
French elections are in 2022, and the current French president tries to isolate himself against these attacks before the appointment with the polls.

Senouci, quoted by Bloomberg, stresses that much remains to be done to reveal the country’s colonial history and prevent it from “poisoning the imagination” of young people growing up in immigrant communities. In addition, in the basement of the Museum of Man in Paris they are still locked another 18,000 skulls.


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