Former French colonies in Africa demand a reset

Bamako, Mali – Many French guests came through the guest house where El Bacher Jam served as a security guard, a busy small oasis of vegetation in Bamako, the capital of the West African country of Mali. They were friends, as usual, and he liked them.

But he later welcomed them, showed them to their rooms, and assured them that Bamako was safe, not the center of terrorist activity that might have seemed outside, but he returned to his phone, where he was active. The focus of the WhatsApp groups was one thing. General Chat Chat Lounge Getting the French – their businesses, diplomats and thousands of troops – out of financial.

Over the past few years, there has been a sharp increase in criticism of France over its former colonies in Africa, in a sense that colonial practices and pastoral attitudes did not really end, and social media posts, radio shows, demonstrations. Proceed with the wave. And stories on the streets.

In Senegal, the young president who participated in the protests last year accused the president of French President Emmanuel Macron of being too thin. They smashed the windows of French gas stations and set fire to French supermarkets.

In Burkina Faso, as a result of the uprising in January, Darzan broke French flags and assembled the Turks horizontally to make them Russian.

Last November in Niger, protesters chanted “France with!” French troops try to stop the convoy, soldiers shoot. They killed two people, the Nigerian government said.

Almost half of the countries in Africa at one time were French colonies or guards. Six decades after many of them gained independence, young men such as Mr. Dime – born long after the advent of colonial French – are fueling this uprising, using a wealth of information online that older generations, often Because they are less educated and educated, they are not accessible. , And is trying to use it to promote change. And their elders are paying attention.

“There is a new paradigm in sub-Saharan Africa that the world should know about,” said El Hadj Djitteye, a Malinian analyst who recently founded a think tank, Timbuktu Center for Strategic Studies on the Coast. “If a foreign minister makes a speech today, there is a group of young analysts who can see it and say that this paragraph is patristic. It is offensive. It is not diplomacy.”

Although the wave of information they use and share is sometimes inaccurate information, including baseless rumors about France working with jihadists or stealing gold, much of the criticism in France’s relations with the former colonialists The master’s comprehension is arrogant. There has always been criticism in France, especially in the more well-educated, urban circles in West Africa, but now that almost everyone has a cellphone or knows someone who does, these ideas have spread.

In Mali, where for almost a decade, French soldiers, who initially came under the auspices of the Malian government, have tried and failed to stop the spread of armed Islamist groups, accusing France of insulting them. Not just by activists like Mr. Jam, but by them. Top executives of the country, including the Prime Minister.

“They want to humiliate us,” Prime Minister Chugel Maga said in a recent speech that went into the fundamentalist ideology. This type of rhetoric has aided the military junta who seized power in 2020 and maintained popular support. “We’re not the ones who admit that.”

This is a wonderful comeback from a decade ago. When jihadists occupied its northern cities in 2012, Mali appealed to France for military assistance. And when the French troops arrived, the mistress greeted them as heroes of independence.

Now they are being effectively dumped from the country. They have been accused of sanctions – the Economic Community of the West African States, or ECOWAS, whose purpose is to try to persuade the junta to hand over power – to France, considered the group’s thinnest master.

Francis has been accused of failing to prevent a coup that has metastasized and infiltrated Mali’s borders, destabilizing a vast area known as the South – though the army from Mali has also been fighting rebels and now He is alleged to have massacred hundreds of people. People with their new partners, Russian brothers. The French are also accused of being too different from the jihadists in the powerful South of Mali by many for their support of former rebel groups in the north.

The worsening security situation was an important thing that Mr Thom posted on social media during a night shift in his guest house. He reached more than 35,000 friends and followers on Facebook at one point.

But he wasn’t just an online fighter: he was Co-founded An active group, We figured it all out – “We’ve Got It All Figured Out” for French – which organized demonstrations outside the French Embassy and targeted French-owned businesses such as the Petroleum Company’s toilet. Soon, he figured out he had to leave his workplace meetings soon to work on time. So for another full time activity at this guest house job.

His favorite tactic was to post videos about the French flag burning on Facebook – something that eventually banned him from social networks, he said. (Facebook said that the burn is not a violation of their policies, but that restriction could be for another reason). He said he posted pictures of dead French soldiers, labeled them “other terrorists,” just for the sake of shock.

“We know it was meant to be, but it was part of our war plan,” he said.

French soldiers are now ready in their bases, preparing to go, while their leaders are focusing on their relations with other friendly countries such as Niger and Ivory Coast, where this month they have training sessions with local soldiers. Hold on, as they have done. year

For years after the independence of the African nations, France maintained a web of political and business relations with its former colonies, often to their advantage to manipulate corrupt governments or dictators, a system widely known by Françafrique. Known as the.

When Mr. Macron becomes president, it seems at first that things will change. He promised to release secret files related to the assassination of Burkina Faso’s revolutionary leader Thomas Sankara, in which several suspects played a role in France. He called on Rwanda to apologize for France’s role in the genocide.

“I’m from a race who doesn’t know what to do in Africa,” he told students in Ogadogo, the capital city of Burkina Faso in 2017.

But it was turned down in January 2020 when he summoned five African leaders to a meeting, partly to counter growing anti-French sentiment in their countries. Back home to many of their citizens, Mr. Macron was overwhelmed.

And in Mali – often, of late, harbingers to the region, whether in terms of rebellion or destabilizing Islamic groups – people felt that the increase was only coming – in particular, of the French Prime Minister’s military junta. In condemnation, who ousted the president, former French ally Ibrahim Boubaker Cata.

The relations between the two countries rapidly declined.

France’s Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Déin, in January, declared Janata “illegitimate” and “out of control”, prompting its ambassador to Bamako.

On a recent afternoon at the embassy, ​​the ambassador’s broad office was silenced, the only sign of which was a picture on the chair of his office, where he jokingly extended it on his exit.

Many Malaysians still stand on the “illegitimate” label: of course, they have not been elected. But many feel that they have been thwarted by democracy as France imagines it, and the Janata speaks for them.

“Stop thinking we’re inferior,” said Pierre Togo, a former soldier addressing France when he served mango juice at a Bamako bar on a recent evening. “France is conspiring, playing games, and Africans are understood that now.”

Around the city, on a busy roundabout where salesmen were selling flags, Lucina Keta, a mechanic, wiped the oil stains on her shirt, on which all her source of information was clipped, a small yellow. The radio. “It’s better to thank you, and let them go,” he said of the French.

But while these sentiments are common in the capital, some Malays from the north and the center, where the rebellion is taking place, see things differently.

In a quiet suburb of Bamako, Amy Welt Idrisa and Bantu Walt Abdou, 22, were chatting at Amy’s house, with their thick sunder block wall warming in the sun. They reminisced about their lives back in Timbuktu, which was taken over by Islamist extremists, following the flood of weapons and men in the country as a result of Libya’s chaos.

“France has a lot of financial support,” Benito said.

“They are the ones who told jihadists,” Amy said.

Amy was 13 years old when the jihadists took over Timbuktu in 2012. Her parents were gone, but she lived with her brothers. One day, as he was taking a bath in the river, the armed men stopped Amy and her brother. Men and women were forbidden to move together, they said – brothers or not. They both got knocked out, he said.

Both women were worried about what would happen if the French were cleared, but they never said so in public, even when people equated the French with jihadists, as they often do. Their opinion could invite trouble in Bamako.

Were France’s toughest critics living in areas that were threatened by extremist or abusive military forces, but rather safely in Bamako, things could have been different.

At the address guest house, one of Mr. Dime’s former colleagues wondered what his old partner was doing.

“Send him to Dugan country, let him hear a little firing,” he said with a smile, referring to an area often attacked by armed groups that France fought. “He was running back to ‘Vue la France’!

Mamadou Tapily, Mohammad Ag Hamaleck and Mady Camara assisted in the reporting.

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