The bond which keeps colonies, and their colonial masters together is most cherished by many countries as it unfolds historical relations on cultural, and diplomatic ties. Losing one colonist is meant to be considered a misfortune but when it persists it calls for further engagements.
There has been a sharp rise in criticisms of France across its former colonies in Africa as a result of several factors which seems to have generated social media and street protest. This paper seeks to look at Burkina Faso and Mali as a case study.
The French colonization of Mali began in 1880, and the country gained full independence on June 20, 1960. For several years following independence, relations between Mali and France remained strong.
However, in recent times, there has been a noticeable decline in this relationship, drawing public attention to the issue. The recent removal of French troops from Mali and their replacement with Wagner mercenaries has brought the situation to the forefront.
The French presence in Mali has become increasingly unpopular in recent years, with the government and citizens alike expressing their dislike of France’s continued control. This shift in attitude is surprising considering the previously positive relationship.
The French military was initially deployed to the region to help combat the rise of jihadist groups in the Sahel region, but it seems that their presence has only added fuel to the fire.
Local citizens have spoken out against the French military, claiming that as an advanced military power, they should have been able to solve the problem, but instead, they see their presence as an occupation.
Tensions between the French government and the Mali military junta, which took control in August 2020, have only escalated, with protests and incidents of the burning of the French flag becoming more common. This has led to Mali pivoting its strong bilateral relations towards China and Russia.
The expulsion of France’s ambassador to Mali by the military junta further demonstrates the growing displeasure with French interference in the country’s affairs.
The reasons behind this shift in the relationship between Mali and France are complex and require a deeper examination to fully understand the situation.
The recent trend of former French colonies, such as Burkina Faso, seeking to end the military pact that allows French troops in the country, highlights the growing tension and strained relationship between France and its former colonies in Africa.
This trend has prompted public attention and raised questions about the underlying causes of the deteriorating relationship.
Burkina Faso, formerly known as the Upper Volta, was part of French West Africa after 1896 and gained independence in 1960. Despite its initial strong ties with France, recent years have seen increasing interference from the French government, leading to a deterioration in the relationship between the two countries.
The government spokesman of Burkina Faso, Jean Emmanuel Ouedraeogo, emphasized the country’s desire for self-reliance and liberation from external influence.
The current state of Franco-Burkinian relations has been attributed to a range of factors, including allegations of French sponsorship of groups seeking to destabilize the country, and the leadership of French President Emmanuel Macron, who is seeking re-election in the coming elections.
In response to the growing anti-French sentiment in Africa, President Macron convened a summit with five African leaders in 2020 to address these concerns and seek ways to strengthen relationships between France and its former colonies.
Despite these efforts, the relationship between France and Burkina Faso continues to be strained and requires further attention and action to resolve the underlying issues.
The way forward
In order to foster and maintain a robust relationship between France and its former colonies, it is imperative that both parties engage in constructive dialogue and cooperation. A collaborative effort to tackle the pressing issue of terrorism in Burkina Faso and Mali through military support from France could serve as a catalyst for the strengthening of relations between these nations.
It is suggested that a comprehensive and inclusive dialogue should be initiated, with the aim of restoring democratic governance in Burkina Faso and Mali, and promoting strong diplomatic ties for the purpose of trade, cultural exchange, and bilateral relations. The maintenance of peace in the region is of utmost importance, and can only be achieved through a collaborative effort between France and its former colonies.
*The writer is a student of international relations and development at one of the leading universities in Africa.
*The views and research expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflects the positon of this publication.