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Macron is no progressive when it comes to Africa

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The G20 Hamburg summit managed to happen this weekend amidst protest and police clashes with black bloc-ing anarchist groups.  World leaders gathered to talk the talk in front of flashing cameras and eager journalists, although it seems not much came out of it.

Everything politicians say these days tends to sound the same. However, French President Emmanuel Macron, the new Justin Trudeau of the fangirling liberal left, managed to find a way to make some really odd remarks when asked about the situation in Africa.

“The challenges in Africa are totally different… It is civilisational. What are the problems in Africa? The failed states, the complex democratic transition, the demographic transition…”

Macron went on to say that one of the other challenges is the increasing population, stating that Africa had a ratio of 7-8 children per woman while complaining that France spent millions of Euros in trying to stabilise the continent. 

Macron’s statements should be making the news, but because he’s the considered to be the ‘moderate’ foil to the horror-show that is Marine Le Pen and her Front National, the world is turning a blind eye to his hypocritical and ignorant criticisms of the continent.

It makes no sense to say that the challenges facing Africa have anything to do with ‘civilisation’.

Are we still using pseudoscience and eugenics to determine which populations are progressing the fastest? Macron sounds like Le Pen did earlier this year when she said that France played no role during the Holocaust.  A simple history lesson could explain why Africa is facing the challenges it is.

But before we take this little trip down the memory lane of colonial rule and post-colonial state interference, let’s be clear on something Macron didn’t bother to mention. Africa is not a country. You cannot, as a world leader (or even an ordinary person on the streets with no political ambitions) conflate African countries with ‘Africa’.

It is harmful to each country for the continent to still be regarded as a playhouse for European leaders. At a world summit of leaders, for questions about ‘Africa’ to go floating around as though we are a monolith without our individual state challenges and strengths, perpetuates the idea that Africa is a ‘dark continent’ in need of Western aid.

Macron is confident in rattling off a list of all the wrongs that Africa is currently facing while conveniently forgetting that his own country was on the brink of democratic and regional turmoil until just a few months ago. In fact, the whole of Europe continues to teeter on that brink, but Africa receives the misplaced concern borne of the Western saviour mentality.

Macron is right in saying that the issues Africa is facing are totally different. But this has nothing to do with civilisation. African states remain divided into borders created by European colonial rule. Africa’s resources and labour remain plundered by European states, not to mention the new additions of China and Israel.  Since the rebirth of independence states, any African leader seeking to create self-sufficient states has been assassinated or overthrown by Western interference  If Macron is worried about the burden of cost that France is facing in sending aid to Africa, he should think about the burden of cost Africa is currently facing as the result of historical plunder and theft from Europe. A change of perspective makes it seem a lot more like reimbursement, right?

Africa’s problems, for the most part, have not been caused by Africa. Macron mansplains about population growth and childbearing but can’t even get the statistics right. While you can’t properly calculate the birthrate of a continent where each country has very different birth and child mortality rates, the ratio of children to women is closer to five than seven or eight.  

Do African, Asian and South American leaders talk about European birthrates with the same paternalism? It’s not as if there aren’t enough resources for African children, they’re simply being stolen.

Macron’s win in the French election was seen by some as a victory of sorts. The obvious fascism of Le Pen was left behind in the wake of the centrist En Marche! However, on the topic of Africa, Macron is aligning himself more closely with the foolishness of Trump through bypassing this necessary context and simply criticizing the continent and its people. As a president, you ought to know at least a little about politics.

Featured image via Wikimedia Commons
20 Comments
  1. Laurent says

    This is not to try defend Macron for his politics or anything. But the information stated in this article comes from 1) not taking the statements in the full context of his reply and 2) not having a correct translation.

    Regarding the “7 or 8” children statement, he clearly states, in French, that this is in *certain* countries (for instance, Niger).

    He also doesn’t “complain” that France has spent millions of Euros. He says that merely spending, in the way that has happened and the way the journalist who asked him the question phrased it (which was in terms of a “Marshall Plan for Africa”) is ineffectual and won’t help stabilise African states, and that aid money must be spent more intelligently, and in line with a state and international-level program to overcome the issues facing many African states today (human trafficking, complexity of democratic transition etc.)

    Macron is most certainly not aligning himself with Trump, and much more with the traditional centrist/World Bank technocrat idea of aid. That’s not to say it’s true, but this article grossly misunderstands his statements.

  2. Ben Staley says

    He’s not wrong. The idea that Europe is largely responsible for Africa’s woes today, that Denmark is rich because Swaziland is poor, is so reductive that only a sociology major at a third-tier university could believe that it’s true. Singapore was colonized for far longer than any African country (the Portuguese arrived in Malacca in 1509), and yet today that tiny city state, essentially a rock in the ocean with no natural resources, is one of the most prosperous countries in the world. And yes, population growth is a problem…Niger’s total fertility rate is 7, many other African nations are not far behind. The UN projects Africa’s population will be over 4 billion in 2100—it was about 250 million in 1950.

    More than a quarter of the countries in sub-Saharan Africa are poorer now than in 1960 — with no sign that foreign aid, however substantive, will end poverty there. Perhaps the most striking illustration came from Liberia, which has received massive amounts of aid for a decade. In 2011, according to the OECD, official development aid to Liberia totaled $765 million, and made up 73 per cent of its gross national income. Liberia, as readers surely know, was never colonized by European powers. Yet there is no sign the country is progressing to even “middle-income” status.

  3. TookieClothespin says

    “If You Cant Feed Your Baby (Yeah, Yeah)
    Then Don’t Have A Baby (Yeah, Yeah)”

    -Michael Jackson

  4. CD says

    Acknowledging that many problems that African countries face today were caused by colonialism is one thing. But simply acknowledging that, taking the blame and admitting guilt, does nothing to actually contribute to a solution of those problems. In particular merely throwing money at African governments is not a solution, as long as it cannot be guaranteed that this money isn’t simply pocketed by corrupt politicians and businesses.
    In so far Macron is correct that a Marshall plan that just consists of transferring money isn’t a solution.
    The money also needs to be invested in such a way that it actually helps the population in a sustainable longterm way.
    As for women having 7-8 children. That is of course also unsustainable in the longterm, because of exponential population growth. In European countries the fertility rates are below replacement rate, i.e. on average less than 2 children per couple. But this is the natural development once a country becomes more modernized. African women will also have fewer children when their countries become more politically and economically stable.

  5. Jorge says

    People do not like to hear truths, even less when it comes to the followers of people like Macron.

  6. Joseph says

    ……own country was on the brink of democratic and regional turmoil until just a few months ago. In fact, the whole of Europe continues to teeter on that brink…..

    Because of mass immigration…from countries like Africa…….

  7. NDReader says

    “Since the rebirth of independence states, any African leader seeking to create self-sufficient states has been assassinated or overthrown by Western interference”
    If the above statement is true, then no current African leader is seeking to create a self-sufficient state. That’s a damning accusation by the author.

    1. Gibson says

      An article written by a cultural Marxist springs to mind. Mugabe probably the most extreme left wing President in Africa is still alive and kicking in power. Africas failure is simply their own making. Extreme corruption, socialist economics since the 60s and a culture that refuses to look forward except for live for today.

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  12. Lucas Sherrer says

    The old say comes to mind. “Give a man a fish and he eats for a day. Teach him to fish, he eats for life.” Unless there are too many mouths.
    I love the racism of this author and the about the “white savior.” Her self statement says, “She is a militant. She is militantly against wrong.” Which means she can play the “savior” all she wants, because she thinks she is not white. (Looks pretty white to me).
    Anyway, I didn’t see any pearls of wisdom from the author, about how to solve the problems, except “you cannot criticize BLACK women for have too may babies.”
    Well it is a huge problem. But it is also one of civilization. The colonial powers left huge infrastructure in place but almost all are a shambles today. WHY? India, Vietnam, Singapore and numerous others were left huge infrastructure and they still exist today. But what is it about Africa. South and Central America have had one overthrow after another but do not look like Africa. WHY?
    I only have to look at examples of Zimbabwe, S.A., Angola and Zaire to understand.

  13. Kang Speak says

    Africa is poor cuz like, them white stole our ideas and shiieett. Know I’m sayin’? Urbody know we wuz kangs n shieet. This Macron dude, boi, smdh. Somebody better tell ’em.

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  16. Cuey says

    Pretty sure Macron isn’t a hero of the left. It’s been fairly well reported that many on the French liberal left voted for Macron while “holding their nose” because the alternative was allowing Marine le Pen to win by default. Just because he makes throwaway and highly disputable claims doesn’t excuse the author from the same.

  17. WhenTheyGoLowIGetHigh says

    Macron is 100% correct. If you want to improve things in Africa you have to start with the truth, not misguided, timid, virtue-signaling speeches that lead to exactly nothing. It would have been very easy for him to give a typical politician’s patronizing non-answer.

    “My stance on a Marshall plan for Africa is – in principle – a positive one. I am fully aware of and accept France’s historical responsibility in this matter, and we will try our utmost to play a positive role in furthering the blah blah blah…”

    See? Supportive, yet 100% noncommittal hot air. A waste of everyone’s time. This is what sheeple like the author of this drivel have come to not only expect, but demand of their politicians.

  18. Geme Merchis says

    This is really substandard journalism. You’ve made no serious attempt to contextualize what Macron was saying, even as far as bothering to quote the question he was replying to. He was asked by an Ivorian reporter how much money G20 countries were willing to commit to Africa today, in a manner similar to the Marshall Plan in postwar Europe. Yes, Africa as a whole. Not individual African states, the WHOLE CONTINENT. What on earth is wrong with talking about Africa when asked about the problems facing Africa?

  19. Pedro el Citoyen says

    Macron feels so strongly about overpopulation that he married a woman 25 years older than him just to make sure he wouldn’t accidentally do something so un-progressive as have kids.

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