Emmanuel Macron. Facebook

Macron tells Africans ‘France has no fixed identity’

Emmanuel Macron concluded his two-day visit, to Rwanda and then to South Africa, on a very political note. Praising, in a speech to the French community in South Africa, the “partnership” that he wants to forge with the countries of the continent, the president said he aimed to “change views and minds” on France's relationship with Africa. For France the message was also very clear: Macron declared that "France has no fixed identity".

Published: May 30, 2021, 11:36 am

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    Speaking to the “millions of young people” in Africa who are linked to France “through their families, through generations” Macron promised them a future. “We will stop telling them:  It’s a problem and you have to integrate yourself. We are finally going to tell them: You are an opportunity for France and you are going to help us develop this common history”.

    In Rwanda, in Kigali, the French leader admitted “the extent of France’s responsibilities” in the genocide of the Tutsis.

    In the mind of Emmanuel Macron, the three spectres of the young African tomorrow will be jihadist temptation, the absence of an economic horizon and flight. “I say it with lucidity, if we are complicit in the failure of Africa, we will be accountable but we will also pay dearly, especially in terms of migration”, he asserted. “It will be a face-to-face, with the Mediterranean as the theatre. Few people imagine what it will look like. If this African youth does not have an economic opportunity, if we do not train them, if we do not have good health systems in Africa, then they will emigrate. The fact of migration is therefore a signal of failure in our official development assistance policies. We have to review everything, otherwise we will not solve it.”

    But the French president is faced with an immediate fixed-identity dilemma back home: A study produced by the French Observatory for Drugs and Drug Addiction (OFDT) in partnership with the National Institute for Health and Medical Research – Inserm, pointed to the direct involvement of certain African tribes in massive drug trafficking affecting the daily life of hundreds of thousands of inhabitants in the French capital Paris.

    The problem is so huge that the report has proposed that in Paris and in Seine-Saint-Denis several inhalation rooms be set up for crack addicts, as well as rest areas and reception structures. This would naturally also greatly help dealers if their victims are taken off the streets since it would hide the extent of the problem. These are the main recommendations of the authors of the study on crack in Île de France, carried out jointly by the OFDT and Inserm.

    The role of the Senegalese Mouride Islamic diaspora in the trafficking of crack in Paris was highlighted in the study. The money from the crack sold in Paris is sent to Senegal and funds the Mouride community.

    The powerful Mouride brotherhood, long confined to the city of Touba, has greatly expanded its influence to the heart of Dakar, the capital of Senegal. On September 27, 2019, after 10 years of work, it inaugurated its great mosque, built on a former six-hectare swamp land in the popular district of Bopp, donated in 2009 by former president Abdoulaye Wade. Its name,  Massalik ul Jinaan (The Paths of Paradise), is inspired by one of the poems of the 19th century founder of Mouridism, Cheikh Ahmadou Bamba Mbacké, a Sufi preacher established in Senegal.

    The religious building covered with marble has five minarets, the highest of which rises to 78 meters, and prayer rooms that can accommodate 15 000 people, as much as its esplanade. It is adorned with monumental chandeliers and decorations made by Moroccan craftsmen. With a total capacity of  30 000 places, the mosque is smaller than the Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca, Morocco but still the largest in West Africa.

    The Mourides has introduced the traditions of the Wolof tribe to Islam. Other brotherhoods, sometimes more numerous but less powerful, exist in Senegal, in particular the Tidiane brotherhood. The cost of this huge building alone largely exceeded 30 million euro, affirmed the coordinator of the works Mbackiyou Faye, without counting the Islamic institute, a residence and a museum nearby.

    This large sum, in a country where poverty affects at least 40 percent of the population, was collected from the faithful, religious leaders, political figures and large companies as well as the Organization of Islamic Conferences (OIC) based in Saudi Arabia, which met in Dakar in May 2008, at the invitation of President Abdoulaye Wade.

    Conservative commentator Eric Zemmour pointed out the result of the study on CNews: “All crack traffickers are Senegalese,” he said. Soon after his remarks were aired, the Senegalese government called on the chairman of the Board of Canal + in Africa, to have Zemmour banned.

    In South Africa, the French leader focused on the production of vaccine products to advance “good health systems”. But Macron’s “health systems” concern amounted to a boost for the monopolist Aspen Pharmacare to produce vaccines at the cost of the taxpayer, as it had done with HIV drugs. South Africa has the biggest HIV epidemic in the world, with 7,7 million people living with HIV. The prevalence among the general population is at a massive 20,4 percent, making its CEO one of the richest individuals in the country. And because of Aspen, South Africa accounts for a third of all new HIV infections in southern Africa.

    Only one percent of South Africa’s population of 59 million have been vaccinated – most of them health workers and people aged 60 or above. The immunisation effort failed because South Africa purchased AstraZeneca products and then sold them to other African countries following safety fears. Then, after it started inoculating health workers, using the Johnson & Johnson product, it was paused mid-April over blood clots that had been reported.

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