Someone Tell France: We know what you did

#SomeoneTellFrance: We Know What You Did by Kathleen Ndongmo on Medium

FCFA Member countries

My father had good reason not to stand the French and anything to do with France. From as young as age 12, he made sure he detailed the diabolical deeds and atrocities that France committed on us as a people. How she not only wiped out thousands of indigenous people but also successfully chained our nation to a lifetime of slavery and economic bondage.

I remember the first time a very young me went for a French transit visa in Yaounde. I found the visa officer particularly hostile. For no apparent reason, she persistently bullied me with inconsequential and condescending questions. At some point, she asked rather haughtily:

“Why do you want to go to France?’’

Without blinking, I shot back:

“I am going through France because I am obliged to. My parents have paid taxes to the French government since 1960!”

The second line was probably not necessary. But I was young, passionate, irritated and at that point, flat-out angry. My mind reeled.“Is it because of a common transit visa that someone will reduce me to nothing this early in the morning?” I couldn’t have cared less if the visa was issued or not. But it was issued. Don’t ask me why.

That was 16 years ago.

I am much older, wiser, and angrier. Allow me to break down the reason for my anger in the following graphic, which hopefully should ruin your day:

A lot has been written about how France loots its former colonies, but you have to admit that seeing the figures in real time and putting them into perspective is quite staggering.

  • According to German publication Deutsche Wirtschafts Nachrichten, France’s former colonies must put $418 billion (400 Billion Euros) into the French treasury every single year! This economic slavery is important for the development of the French economy.
  • If the FCFA zone has an estimated 147.5 million people (as at 2013), that means each person in the zone is paying an annual colonial tax of $2824 — almost $3000 — to the French government. One can no longer be left wondering why citizens of these countries pay some of the highest amounts in taxes on the planet. Now, consider that only those in the working age (15–59) actually pay in sweat, that amount doubles. The babies and elderly pay indirectly (poor healthcare and nutrition, lack of education and social services, roads that kill, etc …) — basically — the ripple effects of economic bondage.
  • Here is the kicker: The combined GDP of the FCFA countries stood at $166 billion in 2012. Basically, France is “eating” 2.5 times more than its former colonies annually — all of this from our sweat and blood.

Are you weeping yet?

The imperialist defenders of “French civilization” have made every effort to keep its brutal colonial rule, economic exploitation and continuous crimes under the radar. But they do not fool most of us. What France did to Guinea and Sékou Touré in 1958 traumatized three generations of African leaders. We are beseeched by imperalism and neo-imperalism by the same colonial master. The subsequent disasters have been felt repeatedly since independence. They are still being felt.

  • On January 13, 1963, an ex French Foreign Legionnaire army sergeant called Etienne Gnassingbe killed Togo’s first elected president. Sylvanus Olympio had just started printing Togo’s own currency three days before. It is reported that Gnassingbe received a bounty of $612 from the local French embassy for the hit man job. He went on to become president.
  • On June 30, 1962, Modibo Keita , the first president of the Republic of Mali, decided to come out of the trap of the French Colonial Pact. On November 19, 1968, like, Olympio, Keita will be the victim of a coup carried out by another ex French Foreign legionnaire, Lieutenant Moussa Traoré who went on to become president.
  • On January 1st, 1966, Jean-Bédel Bokassa, an ex french foreign legionnaire, carried a coup against David Dacko, the first President of the Central African Republic. The greatest mistake Dacko made was asking Bokassa — incidentally his cousin — to reorganise the army. Bokassa went on become president.
  • – On January 3, 1966, Maurice Yaméogo, the first President of the Republic of Upper Volta, now called Burkina Faso, was victim of a coup carried by Aboubacar Sangoulé Lamizana, an ex French legionnaire who fought with french troops in Indonesia and Algeria against these countries independence. Lamizana went on to rule till 1980.
  • and the list goes on… coup after coup after coup… over 16 of them in Francophone Africa alone in the last 50 years at the behest of France.
These are the 22 presidents assassinated by France since 1963. *Read about it here [FRE]*

After what happened to Laurent Gbagbo in 2011, leaders in the FCFA zone are probably terrified of anything contrary to what France says. As ludicrous as that sounds. Part of the Colonial Pact carries ‘defense agreements’ between France and its former colonies allowing France to pre-deploy its troops and keep military facilities locally entirely run by them. No one ever asks why they are stationed, when they will leave or what their intervention entails. For those curious enough to, some excuse is usually found for why they are deployed on the ground. Something along the lines of; to protect economic interest, occupy strategic points or defend an ally among the local politicians. It’s the same sob story from Djibouti all the way to Cote D’Ivoire.

French military stations in Africa as at 2015

Why are international bodies not concerned? Well, the old boys in the club know that France is a “superpower” — albeit — with an Achilles heel. They know that the FCFA issue has been steak with an expiration date since World War II. Imagine it for a second. If France lost access to that $418 billion tomorrow, the EU trade bloc would reel from the effects a thousand times worse than Brexit! They have interests, so they turn a blind eye. France itself has seen this coming. I hear they’ve been scouring the planet trying to make new rich friends. Vietnam and Saudi Arabia have been invited to join the Francophonie party. Whether they would agree to be fooled is another story.

The good news however is this: the FCFA is increasingly becoming a poison pill even for France, costing it great diplomatic prestige. The fact that Germany (via Deutsche Wirtschafts Nachrichten) is beginning to tell the story of France’s scandalous acts in Africa is telling. The Germans are at the receiving end of the backlash of migration of Africans into the EU — and the headache it is giving the Bundesregierung— is only one symptom of the many French colonial relics. Siphoned resources from FCFA countries means no hope for their citizens. It’s a clear catch 22.

Back home, the leaders of these countries may be sitting pretty being puppets on the strings of a colonial master but its young generation is having none of it. Recently, a group of young panafrican activists began advocating against the economic stranglehold that France has on its former colonies through the French Colonial Pact. The movement happened simultaneously in several African cities and in the diaspora led by Senegalese writer and activist Kemi Seba. Similarly, Benin Republic’s NonAu FCFA’’ movement took a protest march to its leaders on Nov 30th 2016.

Front Anti CFA sensitisation and peaceful protest day on January 7, 2017 across cities and in the diaspora

A Franco-Cameroon colloquium focusing on the topic: ‘Cameroon’s perilous path towards independence’ is being planned for June 2017. It has got me wondering; when will France start paying back the loot? Do French people know they are living off the wealth of a part of Africa? Can the descendants of victims of the Cameroon War perpetrated by France jointly sue them for reparations? More importantly, what is it going to take for this state of indentured servitude to end?

We cannot continue to defend France’s grotesque reign of violence and intimidation as ‘Western Civilization’. We should not be mute when France — in nothing but racist rhetoric — celebrates its country’s “colonial endeavor.” We should hit back at Nicolas Sarkozy’s insistence that the “ancient Gauls” are the ancestors of all French people, whatever their origins. We should shut down prime minister François Fillon’s description of a deadly colonization as the simple “sharing of culture.”

#SomeoneTellFrance — #DitesALaFrance:

  • We know what you did. Your colonial crimes, your diabolical legacy and your current continuous theft is not lost on us. You have done everything to hide it, and failed.
  • We will fight you, until you free us completely — whether our leaders remain your puppets or not, whether you continue to stage coups or not.
  • Your Africa-France jamboree holding in Bamako on the 13th and 14th of January is an opportunity for us to tell you: we will no longer pay for the crimes you committed against us.
  • Stop being a leeching neo-imperialist coward. Look at your colonial past and your monstrosity toward human beings in the face and deal with it.
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