Francophone Africa is gradually moving away from its former colonial overlord. Those with resources are finding it easy to make new friends with a clean slate.
Gabon has acquired many friends in recent years, including China, the US and a number of wealthy Arab regimes. Beijing is courting, hosting and assisting African leaders, with very few conditions, much as France used to do, and while they may not fight to the death for real democracy in their country, Gabonese nowadays rise up in revolt at the idea of a leader being ‘elected in Paris’.
Half a century after the independence of most of its former colonies, France is still “nodding and winking” when it comes to African politics. And things haven’t changed much.
[S]ince he took office, Sarkozy has perpetuated France’s time-honoured tradition of parallel diplomacy in Africa. … In its African backyard, Paris professed a doctrine of ‘limited sovereignty’, just as Brezhnev was doing in the satellite states of Eastern Europe.
Between 1960 and 1990, 40,000 people are believed to have died as a result of internecine violence in French Africa, half of them in Chad; by comparison, roughly two million died in former British Africa, another two million in former Belgian Africa, 1.2 million in the former Portuguese colonies and another million in the residual category that includes Ethiopia, Somalia, Liberia and Equatorial Guinea.
Nowadays, Françafrique is losing patience with its elitist Franco-African leaders, whom are increasingly detached from Africans on the ground. The French too, while holding little objection to the idea of neo-colonialism, are becoming more and more aloof to the realities of maintaining political ties while doing business on the continent.