It's the late 1960s; all joy and celebrations are all over the African continent. 'Freedom is finally here with us', is a common song among many nations as the direct colonial rule comes to an end. Several years late, the reality of liberty and independence remain a mystery in some of the African nations. As Algeria still languishes in turmoil, Mali is not an exception either. Both countries paint a picture of the not so good relationship that exists between France and a majority of its African colonies. Cumming (156), states that, while economic oppression continues to exist in a number of the African nations, colonialism remains a permanent stain in the history of the French colonies in Africa. Numerous factors point to the fact that French colonies in Africa are not as independent from the French rule as perceived, with assimilation, association, development, and labor & taxation issues remaining deeply rooted in the French African colonies.
The close to a century and a half, France continued to establish and maintain a substantive colonial rule within the vast western part of the African empire. However, despite the end to direct colonial rule in Africa in the late 1960s, France has continued to establish a strong influence over its former possessions, the colonies (Shipway 36). The main areas of influence include the political, cultural, economic, and security perspectives, through which attempts have been made by the colonial power, for a continued service of its interests as well as the maintenance of a hegemonic foothold in its colonies, and prestige that associates with its legacy of the previous mastery (Cilliers 123). While the existence of the relations between France and its African colonies is evident, one fundamental question that arises is whether they attribute a colonialist culture and character. Making an appropriate determination involves the exploration and analysis of the rationale of France's expansive imperialism and the mission behind the extended civilization in the victim nations.
According to Cilliers (126), following the end to the expansive colonial era, France played a significant role in its civilization efforts of the colonies. The fundamental purpose of the civilization was to influence social engineering through the improvement of the citizens' lives, education, and politics, while equally promoting France's ideologies, interests, and governmental traditions. While most of the African nations under the colonial rule of other nations, but France experience a significant level of independence, French colonies remain under some form of France's influence. The recent geopolitical occurrences are clear evidence of the spurred realignment, with interests revolving around the areas of energy resources as well as other raw materials (Marchal 355). In the 2009 Gabon elections, France stood accused of influencing the election for an opportunity of the elections in favor of their person of interest (Cumming 166). Besides, France has continued to forcefully maintain its interests in its African colonies through the interference of the nations' internal affairs such as in the case of Cameroon, Gabon, and Senegal as a means of avoiding coups through security interventions (Martin 13).
Shipway (56), states that while France does not subject its colonies to a direct rule, its replacement for substantial influence is equally not a decisive break from the past colonial rule. A further indication of France still holding on its former colonies is the continued support of the leaders as a means of safeguarding its interests through the preserve of a more social, centralized, and the suspicious market-free type of model for the government (Cumming 174). Such a perspective ensures that the French funding organizations have such funds channeled to the central government rather than to the states, where the need is more. French substantial military presence in the nations yet evidence of the fact that France continues to make a colonial influence in its colonies in Africa. McGowan (339) provides an analysis that with the establishment of permanent military bases in Senegal, Cote d'Ivoire, and Chad among others, France continues to maintain regional hegemony and personal vision of order and stability, in addition to the broad licenses for interventions through various defense agreements signed.
For more than two decades after the end to the end of direct colonial rule among the African nations, French colonies still have the colonial power import significant quantities of the raw materials, while equally increase its energy dependence on the nations to almost 80% from the previous 30% at the time of colonization (Shipway 72). According to McGowan (369), France has over the years had his global influence diminish, as such; the African backyard has been the only opportunity for maintaining of the strong influence and in turn a relative hegemony. With the continued maintenance of a reasonable stake in important aspects such as security, culture, and economy, France's neo-colonial relationship that has existed since. With critical areas in taxation and security, the influence remains dominant in its African colonies where French remains the national language with linguistic, cultural and educational links remaining deeply-rooted as a sign of the 'thought' control perceived as a close relation link between France and francophone Africa, says, Martin (20). While numerous deliberations continue to find an amicable solution towards the continued holding of former Africa colonies by France, a permanent resolution still remains unachievable, at least for the moment.
Cilliers, Still. France versus the Rest in Africa? African Security Review, vol. 10, no. 3, 2001, pp.123-126.
Cumming, Georgia. Exporting the Republican Model? A critique of France's historic mission in Africa. In: Cole, A. & Raymond, G. Redefining the French Republic. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2006. pp. 156-174.
Marchal, Richard. France and Africa: The Emergence of Essential Reforms? International Affairs, vol.74, no.2, 1998, pp. 355-372.
Martin, Collins. Continuity and Change in Franco-African Relations. The Journal of Modern African Studies, vol. 33, no.1, 1995, pp. 13-20.
McGowan, Patrick. African Military coups d'etat, 1956-2001: Frequency, Trends and Distribution. The Journal of Modern African Studies, vol. 41, no.3, 2003, pp. 339-370.
Shipway, Martin. Decolonization and its impact: a comparative approach to the end of the colonial empires. Malden, MA: Blackwell Pub, 2008.
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