French president Emmanuel Macron said his native tongue would “be the first language of Africa” and “perhaps of the world.”
Speaking to students in Burkina Faso’s capital Ouagadougou, the French president, who is currently on a tour of West African nations, added that French should not be viewed as a “relic of a colonial power.”
He said, “It is not just a heritage to be protected. It has a future and this future is playing out in Africa . The radiance, the attractiveness of French does not just belong to France.”
Macron was on the three-day regional tour to improve relations with France’s former colonies and boost cooperation on migration, terrorism, and human rights. He told students in Ouagadougou that slavery and human trafficking in Libya were a “crime against humanity” and that he wanted a “European-African initiative” to end the “terrorists’ and human traffickers’ strategy.”
He pledged to end a history of “Francafrique”—a term often used to criticize France’s relations with its former colonies—saying, “I haven’t come here to tell you what is France’s African policy, because there no longer is one, there is only a continent that we need to look
straight in the face. The crimes of European colonization are unquestionable… It’s a past that needs to pass.”
Shortly before his arrival in Burkina Faso, authorities said several people were wounded by a hand grenade aimed at French soldiers, the Associated Press reported.
English is the language of the future in Africa (& the world). Science, technology, business, & tourism are the preserves of English. In francophone Africa everyone is learning English to join the language of wealth & power (after all, Nigeria & South Africa are English countries & the Chinese all speak English). In fact, Macron speaks English himself because he knows, as businessman, that English the language of wealth & power (i.e Donald Trump) & French is the language of poverty.
President Macron’s comment about French was well-meaning, especially as French is the major language of administration, government, communication, and education for the multiple Francophone countries. However, the African university students listening to Macron’s speech resented this remark, as it implied that the European colonial language was superior to the indigenous languages of West Africa; and by extension, that the French language was some kind of “beautiful treasure” that was also part of the intellectual inheritance of African Francophone speakers. Macron’s view of the French language as a
“national treasure” is a distinctly French belief, a view not shared by the millions of Francophone speakers
in countries that suffered under French involvement in the Trans-Atlantic slave trade and centuries of
brutal colonial rule.
While French is indeed a most useful language for those who travel to, live in or work in Francophone
countries, both English and Portuguese are also practical languages in Africa. The PALOP countries use
Portuguese–Angola, Cabo Verde, Guinea-Bissau, São Tome & Principe, Equatorial Guinea, Mozambique–
and the populations of Lusophone speakers are expected to increase at an exponential rate. By 2100,
the number of African speakers of Portuguese will outstrip other Lusophone populations.
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