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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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