Communist Party of Benin

Patriotic convention of the forces of the Left in Benin (Open Letter)

Mr. François Hollande, President of the French Republic

With mixed feelings of anxiety and hope, on behalf of the Patriotic Convention of the Forces of the Left in Benin (CPFG), we address this letter to you, particularly during your travel to Africa as President of the French Republic, and your statements in Dakar and Kinshasa, during the 14th Francophone Summit.

In addition to the speeches about Africa as the "youth of the world or the continent of the future," on democracy and respect for human rights as well as "values given by the Francophone,” the statement by your government that can be considered different from that of Sarkozy's regime, is that "The time of French Africa is over. There is Africa and there is France and there is the partnership between France and Africa." To emphasise this statement you pointed out the abolition of the Ministry of Cooperation, replaced by a Ministry of Development. Good. I want to believe you. The peoples of Africa would like to believe you. However, we simply note that those intentions have already been mentioned to Africans in the past by French governments, specifically by your model, François Mitterrand, which were never implemented.

Indeed, French Africa is not just a word; it is above all a network of institutions and people established by colonial France since the 1960s in order to maintain the colonial system in the former colonies of West and Central Africa that are officially independent.

The most criminal activities, the most reprehensible, such as the slaughter of the people of Cameroon, Rwanda, Congo, Ivory Coast; the targeted assassinations against  patriots such as Felix Moumie; Ouandie in Cameroon, Boganda in Central Africa, Olympio in Togo, Sankara in Burkina Faso; the various coups and attacks of all kinds have been the work of French Africa.

Today, French Africa is the tip of the iceberg. 1) It maintains the currency of the CFA linked to the euro by the French treasury, where 50% of African reserves are available to France, which uses them as it sees fit, including interest-bearing loans to those same African countries that are their owners. That is, France is the guardian of African money. 2) The French language has been established in all the Constitutions of the former French colonies in Africa as the official language, which is not the case of English in the Constitution of the former British colonies such as Ghana and Nigeria, for example. 3) French military bases are maintained in Africa. 4) The colonial pact continues that obliges the former French colonies in Africa to supply the French metropolis with raw materials (coffee, cocoa, cotton, palm oil) at low prices and strategic mineral resources such as uranium, diamonds, etc. as well as to import finished products from the metropolis. The consequence of this situation is that the majority of the least advanced countries of Africa remain former French colonies.

So your statement about the end of French Africa is an empty word or a new trap for the African peoples, as long as the dismantling of the colonial system, which has lasted 52 years since independence, is not applied in practice as described above.

For this reason, don’t the peoples of Africa have reasons to doubt you and to worry, especially since five months after your election to the head of the French State, the French diplomatic personnel in our country, who serve as a cover for French Africa, are still in the posts in which Sarkozy placed them?

Mr. President:

Reviewing the entire world colonial history, France can be proud of its colonial work, like Britain towards its former colonies, such as the United States, India, Canada, South Africa, Nigeria, Ghana; or Portugal in relation to Brazil and Angola; or Spain in relation to the big South American states. Can France feel proud of seeing that their former colonies are among the world's poorest countries, such as Haiti, which is the poorest state in the Americas, or the countries of Africa?

Are you proud to continue to be a gendarme towards the African countries, "eternal children" who are bombarded and on whose behalf one can speak in international forums as your government is currently doing in the United Nations Organization about Mali?

These realities, Mr. President, clash with the conscience of anyone with some sense of justice and freedom, and should lead any government committed to ethics and peace to change its policy. This means that the African people are no longer content with promises of good will however nice they are presented.

The African people expect concrete acts. They are expecting them from you with as much impatience and hope as those who followed your electoral campaign and the forces of the left that elected you with 51.7% against 43.3% for Sarkozy. I refer here to the proposals of the "Parties and Alliances making up the Left Front" led by Jean-Luc Melenchon, which received the support of a good number of Beninese democrats and patriots. The Left Front specifically stated: "The removal of French military bases in Africa, the need to give back to the African countries the autonomy to manage the CFA currency, to transfer the technology and development aid for the industry for processing agricultural and mining resources..."

Such a policy, if implemented by France, would undoubtedly reconcile with the African peoples for being enslaved by it, both by colonization as well as by neo-colonization.

But if, as it seems, you turn your back on this aspiration of the African peoples, proposed by the Left Front; if you ignore the broad sections of the French people who identify with these proposals and who have given you their vote; if your statement in Dakar is just a ploy to hide the maintenance of French Africa, then we African peoples will have to resort to all types of patriotic struggle to fulfil the historic mission: the liberation from French neocolonialism to win the right to be free, to be sovereign in the land of our ancestors, in Africa.

With all due respect to your duties, receive, Mr. President of the Republic of France, the demonstration of our patriotic feelings.

Cotonou, October 15, 2012

For the Coordination of the Patriotic Convention of the Forces of the Left
Philippe Noudjenoume

Click here to return to the Index, U&S 26