Following a statement made by the President of Benin, Patrice Guillaume Athanase Talon, that, former French colonies took a unanimous decision to exit the pact by withdrawing their foreign reserves from the French treasury, many concerns were raised regarding the attached consequences of such daring decisions. Historically, colonial powers are known for their sanctions, including physical and generational damages to non-conforming colonies and former colonies. This is no different when it comes to the relationship between France and its colonies.
In 1958, when a decision taken by the first President of Guinea, Ahmed Sekou Toure to exit the French empire by demanding independence for his country didn’t go well with the then French power, they destroyed everything they have built-in Guinea during the colonial era, as a way of registering their displeasure with the “rebellion” of the Guinean President and also serve as deterrence to other colonies who have similar thoughts in mind. From schools, public administration buildings, food, research, books, tractors, etc. From infrastructure to the destruction of international and economic ties, France caused major damage to the people of Guinea. (refer to the video below for this fact)
The then Guinean President who is well known for the statement: “it is better to be poor and free than to live in opulence and be a slave,” remained resolute and endured the bad treatment by the French government. Guinea was left in financial crisis and he had to call on Dr. Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana who pledged support of ten million British pounds at that time to ease the economic stress.
For fear of suffering the same treatment as Guinea, the first Togolese President, Sylvanus Olympio agreed to pay an annual colonial debt to France instead of opting out completely. The amount involved in this new arrangement was so outrageous to an extent that, the Togolese economy became unstable. Olympio finally decided to opt-out of the Franc for West African Colonists (FCFA). He issued and started printing his own currency but was later murdered.
Aside the economic threat and all other strong measures, there were a lot of orchestrated coups in Francophone Africa that were in one way or the other, related to colonial activities.
Jacques Chirac, a former president of France is on record to have said in 2008 that: “Without Africa, France will slide down into the rank of a third world power” in reference to the direct benefit the French power was receiving from Africa. With this sense of dependency and modern-day colonial mindset, how easy will it be for these colonies to gain their economic freedom from France without any attached bottlenecks?
The final question amidst this colonial debacle is:
Why do colonial powers feel that African colonies or former colonies owe them when in actual fact, they took a lot of resources including human beings from the continent for free? Can the so-called “colonial benefits” equate the atrocities and the generational damages they have caused this continent?