Macron says he intends to abandon France’s colonial past in Africa


French President Emmanuel Macron gave a speech to African students to put economic development, culture and education at the same level of importance as the challenges of terrorism and migration that dominated the relations of their predecessors with the continent .

In a speech by the 39-year-old president, he exposed his African policy, insisting that France's colonial past should no longer nuance relations, given that both he and his audience had never experienced colonialism, almost two hours at a time. bustling crowd of students at the University of Ouagadougou in Burkina Faso. .

"I'm from a generation that does not tell Africa what to do: I've come to listen," said Macron, adding that Nelson Mandela's 1994 election in South Africa was a pivotal moment of his youth. "France has a historical link with Africa, Africa is engraved in French history, culture and identity, there were failures and crimes, there were happy moments, but our responsibility is not to get caught up in the past."

Macron made reference to issues of security and migration in his speech, but mostly offered partnerships in the areas of education, renewable energies, start-ups, transportation and health. He said that pieces of African art in European collections should be returned to Africa and called for closer cooperation between French and African cinema.

Close Ties

He promised that France's development aid will reach 0.55 percent of economic output by the end of its first five-year term, from about 0.4 now, and said it would be better to spend it . "Sometimes aid is not for what is needed, and instead it has only served to please governments, French and Africans," he said to the applause of the students.

Macron was born in 1977. Most of the French colonies in Africa gained independence from 1960, although successive French governments maintained close ties, often intervening militarily to keep friendly regimes in power.

The past French governments have tried to reduce France's ties with its former colonies while trying to develop closer relations with other African countries. In his speech, Macron gave a friendlier tone than former President Nicolas Sarkozy, who said during a visit to Senegal in 2007 that "African man has not fully entered history."

Sarkozy's successor, Francois Hollande, promised to treat African nations are equal, but his African policy was dominated by security concerns after he ordered French troops to Mali to prevent the country from falling to Islamist militants in 2013.

France still has around 4,000 mobile soldiers in the Sahelian militants. A few hours before Macron's arrival in Burkina Faso on Monday night, a grenade thrown at a French military vehicle in Ouagadougou failed its target, injuring three civilians.

Popular Uprising

Macron said on Tuesday he will return to the United Nations to seek funds for a five-nation African force that is aimed at fighting militants across the Sahel. The United States has rejected a French request for UN funds during the summer, although the United States has provided direct support.

The journey of three Macron countries through Africa is his second trip to Africa as president, after a quick visit to French troops in Mali earlier this year. Burkina Faso was elected due to a popular uprising in 2014 that toppled the ruler Blaise Compaore and led to democratic elections.

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