In Montpellier, Emmanuel Macron announces the creation of a fund for the development of democracy in Africa

“We cannot have a project for the future for France if it does not assume its share of Africanity”, Emmanuel Macron launched at the Africa-France summit which was held on Friday, October 8 in Montpellier. Stressing that “Nearly seven million French people are intimately, family linked to Africa”, the president mentioned a ” this “ towards “A continent which fascinates the whole world, which sometimes frightens others”.

At the end of the day, Emmanuel Macron made several announcements, following the recommendations of the report drawn up by the Cameroonian intellectual Achille Mbembe, responsible for preparing the summit. First, a “Innovation fund for democracy in Africa”, with a “Independent governance”, must be created. Endowed with 30 million euros over three years, this fund should help “Agents of change” especially on issues of governance and democracy.

Another announcement from the president: the study of a “house of African worlds and diasporas”, a future institution devoted to Africa, one of the other proposals of the Mbembe report. A study mission will have to make its proposals within six months. A seed fund of 10 million euros will also be created to help innovative African companies in the digital sector, as part of the Digital Africa initiative to support African start-ups. Finally, France will also set up a fund to help African museums to host international works and a support program for African sports academies.

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The only head of state present, since the African leaders, foreseen in an initial version of the summit in 2020, were ultimately not invited, Mr. Macron spoke to 3,000 people, including around 700 young representatives of African civil society.

“Work of truth” rather than “shame of oneself”

Among the latter, some have shaken up customs by challenging the French president earlier in the day. “The rupture was wanted by the Africans, we must not believe that it is decided in Montpellier”, exclaimed first a young Malian, Adam Dicko. “Africa is not a continent of misery or unemployment, but a young, optimistic, enthusiastic continent”, she continued. On stage, Mr. Macron listened attentively, taking notes, before an answer session.

Senegalese blogger Cheikh Fall then asked France to “Ask forgiveness from the African continent” for the crimes of colonization. “And stop cooperating and collaborating with these dictator presidents. And program a gradual and definitive withdrawal from your military bases in Africa! “, he told the president. Another young Kenyan national called on the president to commit to putting “End to Françafrique” and its opaque practices. France “Is itself bogged down in questions of racism, and it comes to give us lessons of democracy?” We find it a bit arrogant ”, rebuked Adelle Onyango.

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Speaking, President Macron acknowledged “The immense responsibility of France because it organized the triangular trade and colonization”, but refused to ask for forgiveness, privileging “A work of truth” and not of “Self-shame and repentance”.

In the morning, he had already been questioned by an African artist about the colonial past: “Africa has been married to France, a forced marriage for over five hundred years”, she pointed out to him. To which the Head of State replied: “If we stay face-to-face or back to back, we will never advance”.

Twenty-six works returned to Benin

In Montpellier, Emmanuel Macron also announced to return to Benin at the end of October twenty-six works of art looted from the Abomey palace at the end of the 19th century.e century, as France committed to in 2018. “We are also going to do it with the Ivory Coast”, he added.

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This announcement is part of a commitment made in November 2018 to return twenty-six works of art claimed by Benin, from the “Trésor de Béhanzin” looted at the Abomey Palace in 1892 during the colonial wars. . This decision followed a report by academics Bénédicte Savoy, from the College de France, and Felwine Sarr, from the University of Saint-Louis in Senegal.

The two specialists had laid the groundwork for a return to sub-Saharan Africa of works of primitive art transferred during colonization, listing tens of thousands of works potentially concerned. In December 2020, the French Parliament approved the restitution with transfer of ownership of these twenty-six pieces in Benin, now kept at the Musée du Quai Branly-Jacques-Chirac in Paris.

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“They will be the pride of Benin. And because returning works to Africa means making their culture accessible to African youth, these renditions will also be France’s pride ”, Mr Macron added in a tweet. One of the highlights of the “New relationship” that the French head of state intends to establish with the continent.

The World with AFP