In a South Africa riddled with recurrent floods, anachronistic racism and revelations of corruption, the shenanigans of the French state in Africa did not seem likely to mobilise protesters, unlike the continent’s French-speaking citizens.
There were demonstrations against the French military presence in Bamako, Ouagadougou, N’Djamena, and an aborted attempt at a “peaceful march” from the French military base in Libreville.
However, it was Pretoria that resounded with slogans like “France out of Africa”, “France’s wealth on the backs of Africans”, “Reparations for colonial crimes”, and even vulgar words hurled from a stage set up on an open truck …
On Wednesday, a few hundred South Africans took to the streets to demand for “post-colonial imperialism” to be driven out of the continent, where countries “can’t breathe” because of the “filthy little French fingers still deeply embedded in its former French colonies”.
You have killed many people in Africa
A spokesman for the demonstrators said: “African countries must be considered as partners and not only as suppliers of raw materials.” However, the French ambassador Aurélien Lechevallier told him: “We are the friends of African nations.”
The current Malian position is as much sovereign as it is pan-Africanist. It could not fail to resonate in the minds of activists looking for an anti-Western movement. The leader of members of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) who had surrounded the French embassy in Pretoria is Julius Malema. The former ANC prodigal son never hesitates to launch his radical left-wing red berets against the forced economic subjugation of African people.
The self-proclaimed ‘commander-in-chief’ is trying to reach a continental audience. He is surfing on this internationalist wave, which does not hesitate to evoke blood crimes. “You killed a lot of people in Africa. Why are you so scared today?,” Malema said on Wednesday. He was also keen to racialise the subject – railing against “French white supremacy” – and glorifying Putin’s anti-Westernism. After the invasion of Ukraine, Malema has been vocal about his support for Russia.
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