One week ago, the ‘Global Afrikan Congress’ (GAC), the trans-national Pan-Africanist organisation that was founded in Barbados at the 2002 anti-racism conference, launched an international campaign aimed at achieving a world-wide boycott of products manufactured in France, such as French wines and other liquers.
The reasons given by the GAC for this campaign against France, are the continuing refusal of the French authorities to acknowledge their historical debt and to pay ‘Reparations’ to Haiti, as well as the perfidious role currently being played by France in orchestrating the ongoing military assault on Libya.
But there is a third good reason why France should be singled out for punishment by all right thinking people and nations:- fifty years after European colonialism formally ended in Africa, France continues to clandestinely impose an oppressive system of neo-colonialist domination on all of its former African territories!
Indeed, from the very beginning of the de-colonisation era, France signalled that it had no real intention of giving up its imperial stranglehold on Africa. Thus, when the pro-independence ‘winds of change’ began to blow across Africa in the 1950's, the French response was not to proffer independence, but instead, to establish the so-called ‘French Community’, under which the African colonies would be treated as dependent French protectorates.
At the time, the only really serious challenge to this French ploy was mounted by Sekou Toure and the people of Guinea. They insisted on and achieved outright independence in 1958, but not before the French had punished and sabotaged Guinea by destroying virtually every public building and facility before withdrawing from Guinea!
However, after a few years of operation, it became clear that the ‘French Community’ was too obviously colonialist, and so, once again (in the early 1960's) the French shifted gears and offered the African territories a special kind of independence --- an independence that was bound up and confined by a system of bilateral and multilateral agreements between France and the 14 so-called Francophone African countries.
This system of agreements is known as the ‘Colonial Pact’, and after 50 years of existence, it still binds and controls the Francophone African nations of Ivory Coast, Senegal, Gabon, Cameroon, Togo, Chad, Central African Republic, Niger, Congo Brazzaville and the list goes on.
Under the ‘Colonial Pact’, for example, these supposedly independent African nations are obligated to deposit 85 per cent of their foreign exchange reserves at the French Treasury in Paris. The African nations therefore have access to only 15 per cent of their own money for national development purposes in any given year, and if they are in need of additional foreign currency, they are obligated to borrow from the French Treasury at commercial rates!
In addition, under the Colonial Pact, France has the first right to buy or reject any natural resource found in the land f the Francophone African countries. Furthermore, it is the rule that French companies must be considered first when it comes to Francophone African governments awarding commercial contracts.
Needless-to-say, the Colonial Pact has also wrapped Francophone Africa up in a number of Defence Agreements which permit France to maintain military bases in the African countries, and to intervene militarily.
And, of course, the end result of all of this is a virtual French African Empire in which almost all the major public utilities - water, electricity, telephone, transport, banks and ports - as well as the major enterprises in commerce, construction and agriculture, are French owned or controlled!
One of the few present day Francophone African leaders who signalled a serious intention to extricate his country from the Colonial Pact was President Laurent Gbagbo of the Ivory Coast. Gbagbo has long been an opponent of the Colonial Pact, and therefore earned for himself the enmity and hatred of the French establishment.
From as far back as 2002, the French revealed their determination to get rid of Gbagbo by any means necessary, when they instigated a military coup against him. They were unsuccessful then, but finally prevailed in 2011, with the help of an election dispute and the complicity of the United Nations Security Council.
France has shown that it is determined to keep French speaking Africa in neo-colonialist thraldom, and this is another reason why we should all support the GAC campaign and refuse to purchase French wines!
DAVID A. COMISSIONG
PEOPLES EMPOWERMENT PARTY
CLEMENT PAYNE CULTURAL CENTRE
BB 11125 TEL. NOS.435-2334
BRIDGETOWN FAX/TEL. 437-8216
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