And suddenly the tone changes. After more than 2 hours and 20 minutes of unfiltered explanation with eleven young people, the President of the Republic wants to be a little less spontaneous and more solemn. By battling on the huge stage with Sandrine, Franco-Chadian, and Lova, Franco-Malagasy, Emmanuel Macron wishes to send a clear message to all binationals: “For decades, you have been told a lot that you have to apologize for not being totally French. You are totally French. France embraces itself through its values, its history, its language. “ By discussing and sometimes hanging on with Eldaa, Burkinabé; Arthur, Ivorian; Sheikh, Senegalese and facing the hundreds of Africans seated in the atrium, the Head of State addresses, without detour, the diaspora: “Something has been entered into your mind: it would be a minus to be from the diaspora. This is a huge mistake. This is a plus for you and for France. Our diaspora is a chance for what we have to do in France and to help us succeed in this adventure with Africa. “
Friday, October 8, at the Sud-de-France Arena in Montpellier, the president, in an exercise he loves, wanted to confront the youth from the other side of the Mediterranean at the Africa-France summit, a new formula. Indeed, for the first time in the history of these meetings, no head of state or government of the continent has been invited. Mr. Macron wished to honor civil society and the African diasporas in France to have a dialogue ” sincere “ and “Brutally honest”, in the words of one participant.
For more than three hours, the president therefore debated without taboos with eleven “Nuggets” from Morocco, Ivory Coast, Kenya, or Mali. With eloquence, humor and irony, these young people called on Emmanuel Macron to “Ask forgiveness from the African continent” for crimes during colonization. No longer “To cooperate and collaborate with dictator presidents”. Or to put an end to the CFA franc. They blasted the« arrogance », the “Paternalism”, the “Denial” of France not to recognize and “Armor” pain related to the past. They also don’t want to hear about« aide » but demand to be considered as a “Equal partner”.
For “Reinvent” a relationship “Appeased” between Africa and France, Emmanuel Macron had to convince, justify himself and clarify. To be clear, he won’t be asking for forgiveness. “That’s not what I have to do, it’s too easy. I believe in a policy of recognition. Yes France has an immense responsibility in triangular trade and colonization. She’s not alone, but she made a big contribution, he explains. It is not a work of self-shame or repentance, it is a work of truth. There is no pride without truth. ”
Since arriving at the Elysee Palace in 2017, Mr. Macron has sought to speak to Africa “By freeing oneself from institutional shackles”, as one of his advisers points out. To change his method or approach, he wanted – ” to be efficient “ – renew the interlocutors, and transform the glances between these two neighbors. To achieve this, he relies mainly on the diaspora. “It was the blind spot of our policy”, specifies an adviser of the Elysee. Because faced with the increased presence of China and Russia on the continent, “We have a comparative advantage over our competitors: millions of French people who have an affinity with Africa. It is still necessary to mobilize it “, he adds.
Opposition to Zemmour
Precisely, when the Head of State addresses African youth at the Montpellier summit, he also speaks to that of France. Mr. Macron counts, among others, on these binationals to carry his messages to the other side of the Mediterranean. “Our country was built on this relationship with Africa. We have nearly 7 million French people whose life is intimately, family, directly, in the first or second generation, linked to Africa., insists the head of state. We cannot have a France which builds its own national novel if it does not assume its part of Africanity, if it does not look through its dark or happy pages, its tragic or love stories which have made and continue. to make our country. “
In this pre-election period, the words of the President of the Republic take on another resonance. While Eric Zemmour – still not a candidate – is measured very high by some polling institutes, Mr. Macron seems little by little to oppose his “Universalism” to the civilization project of the far-right polemicist who wants to “Frenchify” the first names of newborns. During his debate with young people, he recalled that “Democracy is a struggle. It’s fragile. When people think that we can change history, falsify it, that we can begin to relativize universal values including among us in the French debate ”. It’s hard not to see an allusion to Mr. Zemmour …
The president announced the creation of a house of African worlds and diasporas in the heart of Paris and that more people from these diasporas should be named in the diplomatic network. “We’re not perfect. The reality is that our national representation, like our administration, is not yet in the true face of France. “