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New year, two new units…

In this post, Dr. Joanna Warson shares the new developments in teaching Francophone Africa at the University of Portsmouth that have coincided with the start of the new academic year.  The start of the new academic year was a particularly exciting one for members of the Francophone Africa research cluster at the University of Portsmouth. Alongside the usual anticipation of welcoming students, new and old, seeing colleagues again after the long summer break, and having an opportunity to see, for the first time, the newly refurbished university library, the start of 2014/15 saw the launch of two new units in the School of Languages and Area Studies relating to the study of France and Africa. For students in their second year, we now run a year long unit entitled “Guns, glory hunters and greed: European colonisation in Africa”. As the name suggests, this unit doesn’t focus solely on France, but explores the European presence in Africa more widely, from the age of high imperialism in the 19th century until the imperial golden age (or prelude to decolonisation) of the interwar period. In this unit we look mostly at the role of Britain and France in Africa, but also compare, contrast […]

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Rwanda and France: A most difficult relationship

2014 marks twenty years since the Rwandan Genocide. In this post, Rob Coates assesses France’s role in the Genocide and its impact on Franco-Rwandan relations to the present day. Rob recently submitted his MA Francophone Africa dissertation on commemoration, textbooks and music as means of post-genocide reconciliation in Rwanda. He spent January to April of 2014 working at the Commission Nationale de Lutte Contre le Génocide (CNLG) in Kigali. During the 20th commemoration activities of the Genocide against the Tutsi in April 2014, international solidarity in the face of this heinous tragedy had one notable absentee: France’s delegates stayed at home and the ambassador to Rwanda was banned from the Kigali Genocide Memorial. This was the latest instalment in an international row between the two countries. The bone of contention? France’s role in the run up to, during, and after the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi. Although hesitating to name France by name, President Kagame’s speech couldn’t have been clearer in its denunciation of French policy to let sleeping dogs lie: “The passage of time should not obscure the facts, lessen responsibility, or turn victims into villains. People cannot be bribed into changing their history. And no country is powerful enough, even […]

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