The real civilisational problem is the ungodly culture of exploitation that Macron and his elite peers inherited from their ancestors, which continues to impoverish and dehumanise Africans. It’s a vice-like grip on the throats of Africans, just like Dracula, sucking the life blood of the people to nourish the much-advertised abundance of France.
When I first encountered Paris in the mid ‘90s, it was not a pleasure trip. It was as an academic spouse, a mother of two young children whose mate was doing archival work in the city’s libraries. We stayed in a tenement-style university dormitory and shared a kitchen with other itinerant renters like us. It was summer and students were away. We were on a limited budget, which meant I had to shop, cook, and take the children to the playground, while my spouse spent his days digging away in the archives. We did not do much sight-seeing because we could not afford it. Seeing Paris as a tourist would put a deep hole in one’s pocket. However, one evening, my spouse took me and the kids to Champs Elysees for us to experience a little bit of fancy Paris. We promenaded this grand Avenue and stopped by a café for a bite. My husband was amused by the alarm in my voice when the astronomical bill arrived. He was more used to Parisian ways. You cannot avoid the sticker shock experience as a new visitor to Paris. We visited the Eiffel Tower, that iconic symbol of Paris, climbing it all the way to the top. While I suffered vertigo as I tremulously confronted my acrophobia, our four-year-old daughter skipped up the steps excitedly, encouraging me to do the same. The baby sat astride his father’s neck munching on his hair contentedly. “See Paris and Die” is the popular saying, and indeed seeing this magnificent city at the top of Eiffel tower was a unique and splendid experience. Paris lay resplendent in the sun, glittering in all directions. Impeccably dressed Japanese tourists stood next us, also taking in the beauty of this fabled city.
Years later, my spouse and I were back in Paris, just the two of us, this time with the capacity to experience glamourous Paris, the museums, cafes, dinners with Parisian friends, and of course, Versailles, the royal palace of Louis XIV, the Sun King. Hoards of humanity bombarded the tourist sites of Paris. The Louvre was a zoo, with people moving in waves, like starlings flying in a murmuration. It was hard to find the space or peace to enjoy the art. On the day we visited, the African Art section, the main reason we visited, was closed. Hundreds of us crowded around the Mona Lisa painting. To this day, I don’t know for what reason, except for the fact that we’ve all been bombarded by propaganda about Western art, and this particular piece supposedly represents something profound. I doubt any of us was feeling anything profound as people craned their necks, whipping out their cameras and cell phones to take photos. For what purpose? Perhaps to show off to less “fortunate” friends and family, and to prove admittance into the club of the “sophisticated” and travelled world elite. Then we visited Versailles, the sprawling and gorgeous seat of power and wealth where Louis XIV ruled the French Empire. His reign lasted almost 73 years and his Queen, Marie-Antoinette, famously told starving French workers to go and eat cake when they were suffering from hunger. She, along with the other members of the aristocracy, lost their heads to the guillotine during the French Revolution when the people decided they had had enough. The French Revolution overthrew the monarchy and ushered in liberal democracy as we know it today. In Marie-Antoinette’s boudoir, the guide showed us the back door through which she attempted to escape when the commoners came for her.
At the beginning of the revolution in 1789, the French Constituent Assembly ratified a human rights document on the Rights of Man and the Citizen, and these rights are now the cornerstone of every liberal democracy. They encompass the separation of power, freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and freedom of assembly. While all these wonderful political and social development about the rights of man were being codified, France continued to enslave Africans, reaping huge wealth from its slave colonies. Haiti was the crown jewel of the French Empire because the Africans who were enslaved there produced immense wealth by cultivating sugar and other agricultural products. The native people of Haiti, known as Tainos, were the first to be enslaved on their land, and they died out from European diseases and the brutishness of slavery. Enslaved Africans were first taken there in 1517 to work on the plantations. In 1791, these enslaved people, known as Haitians centuries later, organised a revolution and defeated the most powerful Empire in the world. In 1804, Haiti became the first black republic on the planet, but Count Dracula was not done with Haiti. The strangulation of Haiti as a young nation started with the collusion of slave-owning and slave-trading Western powers to blockade it. No country could trade with Haiti, which was forced to pay the French compensation for the loss of their slaves! Haitians then owed the French for shaking off the yoke and tyranny of slavery that had been imposed on them for centuries by the same French. By 1825, Haiti had paid France the equivalent of what is today’s $21 billion dollars!
For all the decades I’ve lived here, the only reference ever made in the mass media to Haiti is as “the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere.” All the talking heads gleefully report Haiti as the poorest this and poorest that, but I had never heard Haiti called “the first black Republic in the world which broke the shackles of slavery by defeating the Most Powerful Empire.” Haiti, like Africa, is perpetually represented as a place of poverty, crises, diseases, and moral failings and superstition.
Africa countries colonised by France still suffer from this unique type of colonisation – the Count Dracula type, draining the life blood of African peoples to nourish the French. This involves fourteen African countries – Cote D’Ivoire, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Mali, Niger, Senegal, Togo, Benin, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo-Brazzaville, and Burkina Faso.
Having been told by France to take more responsibility for African migrants, he did what no European leader had never done. He spoke the truth about the devastation of colonisation on our continent. He told France to take responsibility for the wave of immigration from its colonies and the terrible loss of migrants’ lives. He said that French policies in its former colonies are leading to the impoverishment of Africans…
Ostensibly, these countries have been independent since 1961 but France still controls 85 per cent of their national reserves. Because of a Devilish Colonial Pact and Cooperation Agreement they signed with France at the dawn of their dependence, these countries are all obliged to put 50 per cent of their foreign exchange in the Bank of France and can only access 15 percent of this annually for their development. If they want to use more, they have to borrow their own money with a steep interest rate from the French! Former colonies of the French in Africa are still paying colonial debt to France for the loss of their colonies, just like the situation of Haiti. Apart from keeping African people’s money in their coffers, the Colonial Pact also stipulates that France must have the first dip on state contracts, regardless of whether those contracts can be executed more cheaply by other countries, and that France has the first right to the natural resources on the land of their former colonies till the end of times. You can’t make this up. Laurent Gbagbo, the former president of Ivory Coast, who has just been released from the gulag of the International Criminal Court at the Hague after many years in jail, was acquitted of all the crimes he was said to have committed during his electoral battle with Alassane Ouattara, now Ivory Coast’s president. Some observers think the real battle was between him and the French whose extensive financial, political, and business interests in their colonies were threatened when Gbagbo dared to give the contract to build a bridge in Abidjan to the Chinese, who offered a much less expensive bid. For this cardinal sin, he was whisked away to jail in Europe and his wife paraded almost naked on the streets of Abidjan, while both of them were accused of terrible crimes against humanity.
In Vampire movies, Dracula and other vampires seize their victims by the throat, sink their fangs in, sucking blood and life out of the victim to renew their own energy. It’s the only way to stay powerful and indestructible. The victim becomes lifeless and sometimes rise to join the legions of the soulless undead roaming the world, looking for victims to feed on. Africans are the victims of a vampirish colonial project that is still going on. The undead African leaders collude with their colonial masters to exsanguinate their own people, impoverishing and dehumanising them. After decades of unending misery and poverty, Africans are getting into rickety boats and transversing hostile deserts to migrate to Europe. Thousands have drowned in the Mediterranean, their bodies washing ashore on European coasts. The logic of African migrants is that if their money and resources are being taken to develop European countries, they could as well follow the money. Many of them are sold as slaves in lawless Libya, which Europe bribed to intercept the migrants before they get to Europe. For those who survive, Italy has long been the country of first contact in Europe. Italy, for years, has shouldered the burden of receiving streams of African migrants, which has now resulted in serious political anti-immigrant responses.
Enter, thirty-two-year-old Luigi Di Maio, the deputy prime minister of Italy and minister of economic development, labour and social policies. He is also the leader of the Five Star anti-establishment movement wrangling for more respect and autonomy within the EU. Having been told by France to take more responsibility for African migrants, he did what no European leader had never done. He spoke the truth about the devastation of colonisation on our continent. He told France to take responsibility for the wave of immigration from its colonies and the terrible loss of migrants’ lives. He said that French policies in its former colonies are leading to the impoverishment of Africans, that without its exploitation of Africa’s resources, France will not be the sixth largest economy in the world but the fifteenth, that Africans should not end their lives in the watery graves of the Mediterranean, but should be flourishing in their own countries. He said African’s destitution is assured with the manipulation of the CFA, the currency of the former French colonies tied to France monetary system and pegged to the euro. It has done nothing but stunted growth in CFA countries, fueling the migration to Europe, as people flee poverty and hopelessness. Of course, the furious French shouted to Di Maio, “take it back, how improper and hostile”, but he doubled down. The situation between the two countries has degenerated enough that each country has recalled its ambassador.
It is time to put a stake in the heart of Dracula. African leaders, like all real leaders everywhere, must do whatever it takes to preserve and nourish the lives of their people. The Colonial Pact is the Devil’s Pact, a Death Pact haunting Africans to their early graves.
In response to African migration and deaths in the Mediterranean, Emmanuel Macron at a G20 conference two years ago said to the whole world that the problem of Africa is “civilisational”, that African women are having too many children, and that it is the lack of civilisation that is holding Africa back; this from the leader of a country siphoning the very resources needed to nourish the children of African women. The French economy depends significantly on African resources and if African resources stay in Africa and are used to care for its people, there would be no need to take dangerous risks to go to Europe. Macron’s utterances show a callous and brutal disregard of African lives by Europe, which has been going on for centuries. The challenge for the former colonies of France is how to wean France from its dependence on their resources. This terrible dependence is draining Africa of its lifeblood and causing the deaths of its people, while the beneficiaries in France sit around in cafés enjoying life and propounding arrogant, foolish, and dishonest theories about Africans.
For thirteen weekends, now, French citizens from the provinces and less glamorous areas of the country have been protesting in Paris about their misery and steady impoverishment. They are wearing yellow vests (usually worn by workers for visibility) as a symbol of their struggle, as such the protesters are called Yellow Vests. The astonishing thing is the complete blackout of these violent protests on American television networks. Instead, I see the usual travel shows encouraging us to go visit Paris, Burgundy, and other delightful places to savour French delicacies and drink oh, French wine. But here is what has been happening. French people from these places, the igberiko, have taken their battle to Parisian streets, protesting about hunger and poverty. Yes, hunger, the same phenomenon that is driving Africans out of their continent. The protests were first about an increase in fuel taxes, which Macron eventually removed but it has morphed into a loud and desperate expression of steady working class discontentment over their economic fate. They storm Parisian streets, burning cars, destroying stores, and looting some of them. Some protesters have died, others have lost eyes and limbs. If this were Africa or New Orleans, American networks would gleefully give these protests a 24-hour coverage. They would have told us more about the looting to suggest that this was due to a moral deficiency in black people. Globalisation and the greed of French elites seem to be wreaking havoc on the lives of working class French people. High-end stores on Champs Elysees have now built barriers to protect their businesses and the protests have become nationwide. While the networks are refusing to cover the protests, there is no shortage of information about them on social media. YouTube documentaries and news segments allow us to hear directly from French women and men lamenting that their wages cannot feed their families or take care of basic needs; that their families have to scrounge by the 20th of the month because their salaries are all gone. Middle and working class French people are now experiencing the same callousness and disregard with which their elites have treated Africans for centuries. If French women can no longer feed their children, is it a civilisational problem for the French, if we are to follow Macron’s logic?
The real civilisational problem is the ungodly culture of exploitation that Macron and his elite peers inherited from their ancestors, which continues to impoverish and dehumanise Africans. It’s a vice-like grip on the throats of Africans, just like Dracula, sucking the life blood of the people to nourish the much-advertised abundance of France. Luigi Di Maio was right about this. It was so lucrative (still is) they even erected a monument in Paris to glorify the huge wealth from colonialism. It’s France in the shape of a towering woman surrounding by her possessions, African colonies, offering her their abundant wealth. They have not relinquished this thinking or their dependence on the resources of Africa. It is a civilisation that has caused and continues to cause political destabilisation, poverty, hunger, hopelessness and death for Africans. I have to remember that when next I’m in Paris that the blood of millions of Africans nourishes her ethereal beauty, as it has done for centuries. It is time to put a stake in the heart of Dracula. African leaders, like all real leaders everywhere, must do whatever it takes to preserve and nourish the lives of their people. The Colonial Pact is the Devil’s Pact, a Death Pact haunting Africans to their early graves.
Bunmi Fatoye-Matory was educated at the Universities of Ife and Ibadan, and Harvard University. She lives with her family in Durham, North Carolina. She is a writer and culture advocate. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org