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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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Seeing Francophone Africa from a different angle: Cameroon

In this post, Kelsey Suggitt, who has just begun her PhD on Francophone Africa at the University of Portsmouth, reflects on her 9 month internship in Cameroon with the World Wide Fund for Nature. September 2014 About a year ago I flew out to Central Africa to begin an incredible communications internship with World Wide Fund (WWF) for Nature in Yaoundé, Cameroon. Despite studying Francophone Africa for the past five years (first as part of my BA in Combined Modern Languages and then on the MA Francophone Africa programme, both at the University of Portsmouth), this was a place I knew very little about. In fact, the first time I heard about the opportunity, I had to google Yaoundé to find out where it is. Even after that I still could only have told you it’s in a bilingual country (English and French), politically stable and located between Nigeria, Chad, CAR, the Congo and Gabon. As you can probably guess, I had a lot to learn and a very short amount of time to do it in. For the first three months I was a sponge; watching, listening and drinking everything in, both in the office and out of it. […]

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