Culture The Beauty of Africa

Understanding Love-Hate Relationship Between France and West Africa

Emmanuel Macron West Africa
Written by Teresa Mwangi

France West Africa relations is a complex and multifaceted one, shaped by a long history of interaction between the two regions.

During the 19th and early 20th centuries, France exerted a great deal of control over West Africa, colonizing and ruling many of the region’s countries. This period was marked by exploitation, oppression, and forced labour.

Understandably, it led to a great deal of resentment and bitterness among the people of West Africa.  Many years later, this relationship remains frosty to some extent.

However, the relationship between France and West Africa has also been marked by positive developments. For example, many West African countries have benefited from French investment and development aid.

There are also strong cultural ties between the two regions, with many West Africans speaking French and being influenced by French culture. In recent years, France West Africa relations have undergone significant changes.

Many West African countries have gained independence and are now pursuing their own policies and agendas. Despite this, France remains an important economic and political partner for many West African countries, and the two regions continue to have love-hate ties.

West Africa

West Africa beauty. Photo by BellaNaija

What Did France do to West Africa?

France has a long history of involvement in West Africa. It dates back to the 19th century when it started colonizing and ruling over many of the region’s countries.

During this period, France exerted a great deal of control over the political, economic, and cultural life of West Africa, often through oppressive and exploitative means.

One of the most significant ways in which France exerted control over West Africa was through the establishment of the “French West Africa” (AOF) federation in 1895. This brought together several West African territories under French rule, including modern-day Senegal, Mauritania, Mali, Guinea, Ivory Coast, and Burkina Faso.

They form the basis of the still tense French West Africa ties. In addition to establishing political control, France also sought to exploit the natural resources of West Africa.

This includes gold, diamonds, and rubber. As a result, it led to the forced labour of many West Africans, who worked on plantations and mines under harsh and exploitative conditions.

Why Did France Want West Africa?

France West Africa relations stem from opportunity. France became interested in this part of Africa for the following reasons:

  • Economic potential
  • Political state
  • Strategic considerations

Economic Factors

France saw West Africa as a potential source of wealth, with its abundant natural resources, including gold, diamonds, and rubber. By colonizing and controlling West African territories, it sought to exploit these resources and generate economic benefits for itself.

Political State

France also saw its presence in West Africa as a way to increase its global power and influence. By establishing colonies and protectorates in West Africa, France could project its power and extend its reach into new regions.

Strategic Consideration

The West Africa was an important location for military and security reasons. By controlling West African territories, it could secure its maritime trade routes and protect its interests in the region.

Did France Control West Africa?

During the 19th and early 20th centuries, France exerted great control over West Africa. In fact, it is the foundation of France West Africa relations. This period saw the establishment of the “French West Africa” (AOF) federation in 1895.

AOF brought together several West African territories – Senegal, Mauritania, Mali, Guinea, Ivory Coast, and Burkina Faso – under French rule. French control over West Africa was reinforced through several means.

Among them was the deployment of military forces, the establishment of administrative and governance structures, and the exploitation of the region’s natural resources. This period was marked by exploitation, oppression, and forced labour which is the genesis of the frosty relationship between France and some West African nations.

French in West Africa

French in West Africa. Photo by E-International Relations

Why Does France Intervene in Africa?

France West Africa relations intervention has a long history dating back to the colonial era. France intervened in African countries for the following reasons:

  • Political
  • Economic
  • Security

Additionally, it partly enjoys a special relationship with many African countries due to the history of colonialism and the cultural, linguistic, and economic ties between them.

Nonetheless, a big part of its intervention is pegged on the following factors.

  1. To protect French citizens and interests in the region, such as investments in African countries’ natural resources or infrastructure.
  2. To maintain stability and support friendly governments in the region, which may be seen as important for France’s own security.
  3. To promote French values and influence in the world, such as by supporting democratic institutions or promoting the French language.
  4. To address humanitarian crises or support peacekeeping efforts, such as by providing aid to countries affected by conflict or natural disasters.

Overall, the motivations for French intervention in Africa are complex and varied and can differ depending on the specific situation.

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About the author

Teresa Mwangi

Teresa is a journalist with years of experience in creating web content. She is a wanderlust at heart, loves travelling and telling stories about tour and travel in Africa by every angle.

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