‘Francophonie’ in turbulent times

“Although the term was coined over a century ago, “Francophonie” has become associated with France’s attempt to maintain (or project) its influence in various parts of  the world – but especially in Africa, where it has often been perceived as the “soft” corollary of “Françafrique” – even though it was first resurrected by Léopold Sedar Senghor.

Alain Mabanckou, the first African writer to be invited to lecture at the Collège de France, shares with most of his peers some serious misgivings about the incestuous connections between the “cultural” and “realpolitik” dimensions of France’s policies.” Edouard Bustin.

Read more on the subject:

On a suivi la “messe africaine” de Mabanckou au Collège de France

Ce 2 mai 2016, l’auteur de “Black Bazar” organisait un colloque pour “Penser et écrire l’Afrique noire”. Avec des invités comme Pap Ndiaye, Dany Laferrière ou Achille Mbembe.

Francophonie, langue française : lettre ouverte à Emmanuel Macron

Le président de la République a proposé à Alain Mabanckou de contribuer aux “travaux de réflexion” qu’il souhaite “engager autour de la langue française et de la Francophonie”. L’auteur de “Verre cassé” lui répond.

Alain Mabanckou refuse de participer au projet francophone d’Emmanuel Macron

Le président Emmanuel Macron a proposé à Alain Mabanckou de collaborer avec Leïla Slimani pour «contribuer aux travaux de réflexion autour de la langue française et de la francophonie». L’auteur de Petit Piment lui répond, acerbe, dans une lettre ouverte publiée sur BibliObs.

Why a celebrated Francophone Africa writer said no to president Macron’s Francophone project

In his speech to “Africa’s youth” in Ouagadougou, last November, France’s president Emmanuel Macron made a big deal of his plans to promote the French language around the world, with advice from African thinkers and others. Two weeks later, he invited Alain Mabanckou—the celebrated Congolese novelist and essayist—to take part.

But Mabanckou—who divides his time between Paris and Los Angeles, where he is a professor at UCLA—said non. In an open letter to Macron that ran on January 15 in the French magazine L’Obs, he rejected the whole venture. The French language is not under threat, he argues. Instead, La Francophonie—the Paris-based organization with 57 member countries, roughly equivalent to the Commonwealth—and other initiatives predicated on shared French language serve France’s political interests and those of African repressive elites.


African Films on Screen in 2018

Ahead of the international release of South African thriller ‘Five Fingers for Marseilles’ in April 2018, the Bernie Grant Arts Centre in Tottenham has an exciting new schedule of African films for the first few months of 2018.

Makala (16-23 February)

A French documentary film directed by Emmanuel Gras, Makala screened in the International Critics’ Week section at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival where it won the Grand Prize. It follows the tribulations of a 28-year old farmer named Kasongo who earns a living through the back-breaking work of making charcoal. He dreams of being able to build a house for his wife, Lydie. A strikingly cinematic depiction of life in rural Congo.

Makala will also be shown on 31 January at Curzon Oxford and 1 February at Curzon Bloomsbury, with both screenings followed by a Q&A with the director.

Woubi Cheri (10 March)

In Ivory Coast, a statuesque young man named Barbara organises the Transvestite Association’s annual year end party. This insightful, funny, often ribald documentary introduces us to the Abdijan, Ivory Coast’s vibrant gay and transgender community.

Kimpa Vita: The Mother of the African Revolution (16 March)

At a time of strife and civil war in the Kingdom of Kongo, a young woman leads a mass movement calling for unity and an end to Portuguese dominance. A Ne Kunda Nlaba’s biopic documentary explores her legacy, revealing how powerful African kingdoms were wickedly invaded by the West and suffered slavery and exploitation.In the early 1700s, a fearless young woman decides to fight for her country and while she tragically meets her demise, she will always be remembered as Kimpa Vita: The Mother of the African Revolution.

The Wound (28 April – 19 May)

In South Africa, Xolani, a disgruntled a factory worker, returns home every year to initiate a new group of Xhosa teenagers into manhood through ritual circumcision. Tradition and modernity clash when he encounters Kwanda, a city boy with nothing but contempt for the old ways, who quickly guesses at Xolani’s darkest secret.


Film information from the Bernie Grant Arts centre website. For more details about the screening and additional events, please see https://www.berniegrantcentre.co.uk