Tag Archives | Decolonisation

The Forgotten Cameroon War : Tens of thousands dead behind the sunny view of France’s colonial past.

French officials like to project a sunny view of their country’s colonial past. Tens of thousands dead in Cameroon would tell a different story. by Thomas Deltombe Journalist, editor, and the co-author of Kamerun! and La Guerre du Cameroun. France’s agonizing over its identity has recently taken a shocking turn. Almost daily, some editorialist, politician, or writer celebrates the country’s “colonial endeavor.” In September, former president Nicolas Sarkozy resurrected one of the most hackneyed and racist clichés of the colonial period when he insisted that the “ancient Gauls” are the ancestors of all French people, whatever their origins. A few days earlier, former prime minister François Fillon described colonization as the simple “sharing of culture.” Ignoring the millions of corpses French colonialism left in its wake, he declared: “France is not guilty for having wanted to share its culture with the peoples of Africa, Asia, and North America.” This trend, unfortunately, has a precedent. In 2005, parliament adopted a law requiring history teachers to discuss the “positive aspects” of colonization. Of course, this has always been done: many French colonial atrocities have been erased, and the driving forces of imperialism are rarely, if ever, critically examined. School curricula propagate a […]

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British post-colonial relations with Kenya – not so different from the French?

Post-colonial policies of France and Britain are often described as different. Poppy Cullen qualifies this with a short case study on Kenya. Dr Poppy Cullen is a lecturer in Commonwealth history at the University of Cambridge. Her research examines post-colonial imperial history and British engagement with Africa, and especially Kenya, during the final years of decolonisation and into the post-colonial period. She explores the multiple and multifaceted economic, military, personal and diplomatic networks which were sustained well beyond formal independence.  Much of the research on France’s post-colonial relations with Africa has found that these are particularly close. These have been based on a common currency zone (the CFA Franc), military commitments, economic aid, and a strong network of personal contacts; France also intervened militarily in the continent more than other former European colonial powers. By contrast, Britain has typically been seen to disengage more completely at independence, not having formal military agreements or the same level of personal connections and very rarely intervening militarily. The emphasis these European countries placed on Africa within their post-colonial foreign policies also differed substantially, as Africa remained a key region of French focus in a way it did not for British governments. Africa played […]

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