Auchan, Y'a Bon Banania And Us (By Boubacar Boris Diop)



– What is at stake is the action of France in its former colonies and the growing risk for our country, now rich in oil and gas, to become a banana republic – or a banana republic?

The good thing about football is that you do not even have to love it to be carried away by the crazy passion it provokes everywhere, to come to be disgusted with the existence because an arbitrator – surely corrupt, the bastard – refused an obvious penalty to Sadio Mané … However, it is a very ephemeral passion, unable to survive a World Cup. That of 2018 has just ended and it is already as if it had occurred in one of our lives of yore. Fortunately, he has at least had the time to serve as a pretext for a reunion between relatives.

One can imagine a Cissé family receiving old friends at home in Castors or Grand-Yoff during a group match. All of them quickly get tired of Byzantine tactical quarrels: why this 4-4-2 in diamond while the 5-3-2 has always succeeded in Tunisia? Maaloul, the coach of the '' Eagles of Carthage '', precisely. His team is being teased by Lukaku and his friends from the "Red Devils". But to speak frankly, all the little world gathered in the lounge of Cissé does not care. It's not really the kind of "com-plé-moi-fool" game punctuated by the screams of raging sports reporters. So we talk, we talk about everything and nothing. It's not bad either, this thing called democracy because everyone can complain at ease and the hosts of the Cissé do not deny it. I can almost hear the housewife – no matter what her name – get indignant at some secret meeting, held at the Palace and what a shame, between President Sall and senior magistrates to '' lock in '' – mild euphemism – the Khalifa Sall folder. '' Is that true, that? '' Are throwing stunned citizens everywhere and at the height of indignation. She defends herself as she can: '' It's in the newspapers! '' Forcibly, someone will take the opportunity to repeat his amazement: '' It's really strange to want to make the Senegalese believe that Khalifa Sall is the symbol of corruption in this country! '' '' In any case, he is worthy, '' observes him, pensive, another '' because in his place many have already spent more time at the Special Pavilion of Le Dantec that Rebeuss! '' We can also assume that yet another joke about the tirailleurs' desserts will bring down the tension at one time or another. But the real subject in all minds, it will surely Auchan.

I do not know this family Cisse – between us, it is imaginary, finally almost – but it would not surprise me that one of his guests hammers the a small table in the hall with furious punches, shouting obscenities against the Senegalese merchants '' these raptors who have no mercy for us, the baadoolo ''. Nothing new: the good man will have just repeated in his exalted way what everyone has already read or heard many times over the last few weeks. If there is one thing that the Auchan affair made me discover with amazement, it is how much my compatriots hate or despise merchants at the corner of the street, the modest shopkeepers and wholesalers, especially those grouped at the UNACOIS!

Moreover, even among the Cissé, everyone spontaneously rallied to the cry "To death the Senegalese businessmen!" They have been fiercely denouncing their low-income mentality, regretted that they are so little in tune with the harsh realities of our era of triumphant liberalism, that of the '' Marche ou crève! '' Auchan against the small shopkeeper in the area: a tank launched against a mouse and people watch the scene by doing yeah, it's not nice to see but what do you want is globalization! As already suggested, this anti-UNACOIS gall did not flow from the lips of my imaginary friends of Grand-Yoff or Beavers. It is cold on the back, when one thinks of the number of our fellow citizens who thought it necessary to assimilate these days patriotism and narrow-mindedness. Should we be ashamed to love his country? In any case, the position of these uninhibited modernists does not suffer from any ambiguity: it is really a shame that the Auchan stores did not open their doors much earlier …! It is also true that they have an almost unstoppable argument: the jobs created by the multinational and which especially benefit young people.

In summary, a call for the boycott of the collective "Auchan dégage!" Would have in the current circumstances very little echo. It could even encourage a "protest vote" in favor of the French distributor.

Why then did the French ambassador give way to panic so quickly? Soon there will be even more reason to react to the output of Christophe Bigot so gifted to cover himself ridiculous. Neither was it necessary for an obscure French plumitif by the name of Francois Jurain to utter such hateful and racist remarks against the Senegalese – in fact against the Negroes – under the pretext of stealing from a French multinational. [19659002ThatthequestionAuchaniscomplexnoonecandenyitWithoutgoingsofarastopresentanyneighborhoodshoporstreetstallasadisgustingreservoirofvariousandvariedmicrobesitmustbeadmittedthatthepracticesofourtradesmenmustbereviewedTosaythatSenegalistheonlycountrywhereithappenssobadlythereisastepthatshouldbeavoidedtocrossLaissez-fairehasbeenencouragedbypoliticalpatronageandmaraboutinterferenceandthishasopenedupaboulevardtonon-nationalsButifthereisanationalproblemhowisaforeignfirmthesolution?ThosewhosupportthispointofviewundoubtedlyloveourcountryasmuchaseveryoneelseOnecanevensuspectinthemoftheamorousspitebornofthesadnessofseeingSenegalmovingawayalittlemorefromtheiridealeverydayNeverthelesstheirreasoningwhichseemstobeontheedgeofcommonsenseisinfactpuredeliriumItisnotbecausewehavedifficultiesinaparticularareathatwearegoingtomakeahedgeofhonortopeoplefromotherplacesAppliedtoothersectorsofnationallifesuchalogicunfortunatelysaysthementaldepressionofapeoplereadytobeenslavedagain

Some defenders of Auchan seem to suggest that the Senegalese are hostile in principle to the large foreign distribution. In what country do they live? This is not the first time – far from it! – that big brands are coming to us. It never bothered anyone. If Auchan has aroused such a stir, it is because everything in its approach augurs a programmed killing of small trade. For some jobs created, how many people will be taken out? Its mesh of the territory has something amazing. How many Auchan stores are there in our country? It is found in the most improbable places and the most shocking is that this massive implantation was done in such a short time.

Brief return to the family Cissé. These typical Senegalese do not like much Macky Sall and his diet, we have already seen. Yet none of them think of blaming him for the situation that led to Auchan's triumphant takeover. Will they allow me to point out that the Auchan stores, far from being the cure for the disease are rather the symptom?

I came out of my secret incursion into the family Cissé with the confirmation of the Senegalese paradox: a Shady nationalism makes all criticism from others unbearable, but the truth is that we do not want to be deprived of the pleasure of self-disparagement. I believe that before the end of this sleepless Belgium-Tunisia – only a goal of stirring Khazri had briefly awakened the interest in this game but it was during the breaks – three or four hosts Cissé had fun at compare what we ate before Auchan with the exceptional hygienic quality of products now offered by Auchan. No more cancer risk, someone said, referring to some editorialist. We are seized with a retrospective fright at the idea that for decades we have been gorged with poison by the fault of shady and irresponsible national traders. Nobody had apparently realized before the burst on the market of the French giant but better late than never. Just for having allowed this salutary '' realization '', Auchan deserves all our respect.

But truce of joke. I do not see how the yogurt boxes and bottles of vegetable oil sold at Auchan would be better or safer than those of Casino and Exclusive. The most appalling is the widespread belief that the products of all these supermarkets pose absolutely no risk to the health of consumers. Have not those who say that never heard of Monsanto? Are they unaware that every day that God makes a big name in the food or pharmaceutical industry is pinned somewhere in the world for the sale of products that are obsolete or even carcinogenic? Would we be children that a simple packaging with bright and cheerful colors can make you jump with excitement? Some a priori reveal without our knowledge our lack of respect for ourselves. To try to justify such a line of reasoning by some dubious modernity is to add foolishness to insult.

Is it necessary to recall that the Auchan group, frowned upon in its country of origin, also had to close shop in Morocco, Thailand, Mexico and Argentina? So, Auchan a company that came to make money at home but with our collective well-being at heart? To try to make us believe it is to take us for the rest. An example will suffice to convince the skeptics. Senegalese probably do not remember the collapse of a gigantic garment workshop in Bangladesh, the Rana Plazza, which claimed the lives of 1138 people in April 2013. Auchan, concerned by the tragedy via a dark affair of subcontracting for its brand '' In Extenso '', initially refused to join in financial compensation measures before changing its mind; the victims that the group was reluctant to compensate were all poor people forced to accept poverty wages by working in conditions close to slavery. As a result of this tragedy, the Auchan group has been brought to justice by the three NGOs '' Sherpa '', '' Ethics on the Label '' and '' Solidarity Peoples '' for, among other mischiefs, the '' violation of the human rights at work '' of its employees in Bangladesh and '' deceptive marketing practices ''. An episode that Senegalese employees of Auchan would do well to keep in mind. An informed people is worth two, too …

There is much talk, and not only in the Cissé family, of the low prices practiced by Auchan. It is normal in these difficult times to be attracted to a reputable supermarket making them more affordable. It can also be expected that the days leading up to Tabaski will be used by Auchan to reinforce his image as an enemy of speculation. This will be his response to the controversy and a way to prove in fact that it is more concerned than others about the interests of the poorest Senegalese. We say thank you in advance, but remain very aware that this little opportunistic game will only have a time. Auchan is the wolf in the sheepfold but dressed as a grandmother! It breaks the prices today but what will it be when after having destroyed all competition, it will be the only one to make the law on the market? If the rules of capitalism do not change in the weeks to come, the answer to this question is not a shadow of a doubt. In the end, the legitimate desire to buy cheaper today could be very expensive for future generations.

There are also thousands of hectares of land that the group would acquire to produce it. – even enough to supply its stores. Will it be said here that it is well done for our peasants, these idlers? Such a speech is as recurrent as it is humiliating. We must not forget that CFA supporters are systematically playing on the fear of chaos that could cause our exit from this colonial currency. President Sall – whose projection capabilities beyond an election seem far below those of his predecessors – has likewise entrusted the orders of the national airline to the French, supposed a priori more hardworking and effective than the Senegalese. Everything suggests that it is from Paris that such choices are strongly suggested, to use a nice euphemism.

And here we are now at the heart of the Auchan problem: this group is mainly debate because it is perceived , after Eiffage, Orange, Total, Alstom and we do not know which seller of solar streetlights, as yet another manifestation of the submission of our economy to French interests. It even perfectly symbolizes indecency by a bewildering visibility. The choice of such a massive implantation is perplexing to the extent that it could make these signs the targets of a more or less spontaneous popular anger. But we can also assume that plans exist to allow the French army to restore order. This point deserves serious thought. The hypothesis of a clash, even limited, makes all the more sense that the signs of hostility to the African policy of France have been increasing for some time in our country. This ranges from the growing indignation against Faidherbe's figure to the outcry against the CFA – even, to some extent, against the EPAs; we also know that Total and Eiffage raise all kinds of recriminations; finally a boycott campaign is announced for Tuesday, July 31 against Orange. In such a context, nobody can be surprised to see the slogans "Auchan dégage!" And "France dégage!"

It would be wrong to neglect this latest rallying cry on the pretext that he is an arch-minority. It is certainly the case of isolated activists but all are young and determined. They especially understood that Françafrique, the heavy reality of their daily lives, is, as its name suggests, a two-headed monster. This is what makes the Auchan affair a more political than economic problem: we can not fight against the excesses of the Macky Sall regime without at the same time pinning a French state at the heart of its decision-making process. The hostility of an association of Senegalese businessmen, UNACOIS, to a French multinational operating at home, is a message that we have undoubtedly deciphered on the other side. Even if none of this should at the moment disturb the sleep of the bosses of these companies, the incessant calls to '' clear '' – a new word in our political lexicon – are the proof that the opinion begins to make the link between the singular destiny of President Macky Sall and the support he enjoys in Paris. No offense to those who raise their voices against Françafrique is to try to discard the others from our responsibilities, it is essential to connect the two ends of the chain if we want to strengthen our democratic system or simply seize the real nature of our ills. Without the impunity guaranteed by external support, President Sall would not make passage into force an almost immutable rule of domestic policy.

On arrival, even if Senegal remains a democracy, it is less and less less perceived, even in Africa, as a rule of law. The Khalifa Sall case is particularly troubling from this point of view. Macky Sall's Senegal is much more like Omar Bongo's Gabon – cruelty and less fear – than Senghor's Senegal. He was a valuable ally of Paris on the continent. But he knew how to draw limits even to his powerful friends, and he, who had sworn in one of his poems "to tear banana laughter on all the walls of France," had a keen sense of history. It is certainly not the author of Hosties Black who would have praised the "positive role of desserts served to tirailleurs" during the bloody colonial period.

All that being said, must Auchan '' clear '' '? Left to seem to handle the paradox, I do not think it at all. This can not be grounded in law or accepted by common sense. In my humble opinion, this group must remain in Senegal but renouncing hegemonic claims that could serve it sooner or later. In the long run, it is not sustainable to live in an environment where the mere sight of your brand arouses animosity and rancor among so many of your potential customers. Auchan should not only put a stop to its irrational expansion but also take the initiative to close some of its neighborhood shops. The leaders of UNACOIS say to anyone who wants to hear that the existence of these '' mini-Auchan '' is simply illegal.

Someone has chosen dishonestly to translate "Auchan dégage!" By '' Whites out! '' To my knowledge no one has ever uttered these words and this is proof that the Senegalese who are protesting against Auchan – again they are a minority – have no xenophobic motivation. It would be enough for the distribution chain to return to the ranks so that we do not hear any more about it.

Its eventual return to normal should not, however, dispense with an examination of conscience. It is important to know how we came to such a potentially explosive situation. The decision to settle so dramatically in a foreign country could not be taken overnight. Perhaps the only way to get to the bottom of this scandal is to go back in time to find out if it all came to an end after a transparent process. Who authorized what? Are we sure that envelopes have not improperly circulated? At least, have Auchan, as everywhere else, been imposed on national partners? I know that these are issues that are angry. They would, however, be an ideal site for the citizen movements because a democracy worthy of the name, it must go well beyond the rotation of the elites at the head of the State.

However, I express only one practical point of view on a specific issue. I am well aware that Auchan is at the center of a controversy where what is played goes much further and deeper than the more or less orthodox practices of a commercial firm, however important it may be. In truth, what is at stake is the action of France in its former colonies and the growing risk for our country, now rich in oil and gas, to become a Banana Republic. Or a banana republic? We do not even know what to say …

By Boubacar Boris Diop

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