In this session we will explore the rising movement to dismantle “Francafrique,” a particularly destructive form of neocolonialism that affects 14 countries in Africa, and influences many more. Propelled into popular awareness by French activist and economist François-Xavier Verschave in his 1999 bestseller La Françafrique: le plus long scandale de la République, the critique of Francafrique has been popularized within the French left through various efforts including La France Insoumise movement and Jean Luc Melenchon’s 2017 presidential campaign. With leading strategists and organizers from throughout some of the most misunderstood parts of the continent, the panel puts modern-day resistance and decolonization struggles into historic contexts which gives hope for the future. With discussion of best-practice tactics, unity across borders, and collective visions of and end to all forms of colonialism — direct, economic, cultural, gendered, and otherwise — we will explore new ways forward for solidarity and Pan-Africanism.
This panel will feature African diaspora activists from Benin, Cameroon, Gabon, DRC, Chad and Ambazonia who are working in close relationship with grassroots home-front movements against French neocolonialism. Questions we will seek to unpack include: What is happening on the ground in these countries? What is the historical context of these struggles? What is the role of Francafrique in the issues people are mobilizing around? What are the limits of the critique of Francafrique? How does the critique of Francafrique relate to critiques of other colonial and neocolonial influences, and other forms of oppression within the fabric of these societies? What coalitional work is going on to bring these voices together internationally? What forms of international solidarity are needed?
We are honored to dedicate this panel to the late Bill Sutherland, unofficial ambassador between Kwame Nkrumah’s pan-African movement and the African American civil rights movement, in this the year of his centenary. The panel will feature Matt Meyer, co-author with Sutherland of Guns and Gandhi in Africa: Pan-African Insights on Nonviolence, Armed Struggle and Liberation, one of the few texts which has sounded the alarm about Francafrique to the English-speaking world.