in the hot seat

Africa-France summit: ‘Stop this paternalistic pseudo-cooperation’ say African youth

By Amalia Mjumbe

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Posted on October 12, 2021 11:46

France Africa Summit
French President Emmanuel Macron attends a conference at the Benin stand to speak about restitutions of African heritage at the New Africa-France 2021 Summit in Montpellier, France, Friday, Oct. 8, 2021. (Sarah Meyssonnier, Pool photo via AP)

If one thought that the Africa-France summit in Montpellier was going to be a day of glad-handing and Afro-optimism, then one would’ve been mistaken. Although heckled by their fellow youth on the internet for accepting a golden ticket to France, the 11 young African speakers who directly addressed the French president pulled no punches.

France, and notably President Emmanuel Macron, touted this as an extraordinary event, bringing youth from five different spheres: sports, democracy, art restitution, climate issues and entrepreneurship.

The African side, which included some 3,000 young people from the continent, came to discuss the lopsided nature of Africa-France relations, and while pointed criticisms were not held back, some even brought along a number of solutions.

Many of their comments on France’s dance with African dictators, its poor use of vocabulary, paternalism and the French-backed CFA Franc elicited applause from the audience.

France and Africa: a dirty ‘cooking pot’

Arthur Banga, an Ivorian historian and political analyst at University Houphouet-Boigny in Abidjan, couched his viewpoints in the future – in 2030.

“The CFA fund and its assorted reserve are far from your memories since we now have our own

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