The Francophone’s are those nations speaking or using French as their national or official language. They share a common cultural, social and political heritage with France. It is inferable that these nations were either French colonies or were once captured by France during the Napoleonic error. In Africa for example, these nations were typically French colonies and continue to be influenced by the neocolonial interests of France even though they were granted independence several years past. They include Congo, Burundi, Rwanda, Chad, Ivory Coast, Burkina-Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, and Djibouti among others. For purposes of this research paper, the researcher is focusing on Chad as a Francophone and examines the historical relationship between Chad and France. In this discussion, emphasis is placed on the political, social and economic influences of France on Chad and how this relationship has been maintained for the past decade. There is a discussion on the post colonial error (Neocolonialism tendencies) that emphasizes between these two countries. The conclusion in this paper summarizes the main findings of the research followed by recommendations.
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Historical Relations of Chad and France
The French military troops on their arrival in Chad in the year 1989 encountered resistance from slave traders in Chad led by Rabin Fadlallah. This persisted throughout the 1890s until in 1900 when the French defeated Fadlallah troops at the battle ground of Koussier. It was upon this defeat that the French were able to occupy Chad. However, the state of Chad was fully created in 1910 with a French governor as the security head of the colony. Administratively, the colonial period was dominated by a lack of unifying policies and low levels of economic development. In this relationship, Chad provided cotton and unskilled- labour for the French firms in southern colonies. Law and order were quite often neglected by the French governor as he did not at the time see its relevance in Chad (Le Cornec 1962). Therefore Chad was poorly administered by decrees set by the French governor who reported all the activities directly to the French colonial minister. In due course, France connected Chad to southern colonies which included Ubangi-Chari, Moyen-Congo (the present day the democratic Republic of Congo) and Gabon. Therefore Chad was governed together with these southern colonies until in 1920 when they established a unified government of Chad alone. This was the first step to the unification and independence of Chad. Although there were political reformations in 1920 and 1940, the French used the direct rule of administration. They created artificial chiefs who were easily manageable (page 2003).
The governor, Andre Gide forcibly recruited able men to work in their cotton plantations in the created southern French colonies. Consequently there were internal revolts to resist these brutal policies but less fruitful until world war two when France was weakened (Page 219). However, it did not make Chad independent by then until new administrative reforms were made. The new black French governor from French Guiana, Felix Eboue abolished these forced policies and established a new form of government. He promoted agriculture, built institutions and taught chiefs modern administrative skills. In 1946, he championed the electoral process in enacting the new constitution and the people collectively decided on how they should be governed. A new legislative body, the “national assembly” was formed but worked alongside the “French Union assembly Council”. These political events under the leadership of Felix later on championed Chad’s independence in 1960 (Page 220). Therefore, the above highlighted sequence explains the social, political and economic historic relations of France and Chad.
How the Relationship has changed over the past decade and reforms?
Like any other colony, Chad’s relations with France in the past decade changed through Neocolonialism. Neocolonialism simply refers to a situation where former colonial masters are directly involved in the political, social and economic life of their former colonies. France’s relations with Chad are typically neocolonialism tendencies. (Padraig Carmody 2010). The modern capitalistic tendencies dominate much of France’s economic policies in Chad. France is therefore the major donor and father of independent Chad since 1960. During the 1980s, the economic ties between the two countries were strengthened. For example, France offered loans as well as grants to build up the economy of Chad especially in the agricultural sector, military and education. France helped Chad to establish financial institutions and all the financial transactions were channeled through of the Francophone community. Private and government investors have prospered through this procedure owning a large proportion of Chad’s industrial as well as financial sectors.
Current Key Issues of Agreement and Disagreement
The main issues of agreement and disagreement stemmed from the involvement of other foreign countries into the political, economic and social life of Chad. On one hand, Chad knowing that they are independent, wished to freely interact with any country such America, Britain and Italy among others without necessarily consulting France. France on the other hand still claimed territorial ownership of Chad and whoever wished to carry on any activity with Chad ought to follow French policies. Although Chad protested, critics of Neocolonialism have rightly sated that former colonial masters still have much influence in their former colonies in the political, social and economic spheres of life (Kelley 1986).
France’s support of Chad somewhat declined during the reign of Habre, due to the involvement of other foreign donors in Chad by then. Although there was increased production due to the good climatic conditions at the time, France’s support had drastically declined. However, owing to their neocolonialism, France’s attitude dramatically changed in the 1970s. The French ambassador by then, Giscard d’Estaing saw it necessary to twist France’s relations with Chad following the emergence other foreign donors and investors into Chad.
There were disagreements that France was using her economic, social and political influence in Chad to exploit the country’s natural resources. This influence was used to bolster Chad’s Francophone status as a method of bulwarking the expansionist policies of the Soviet Union. This came as a result of the anti colonialist movements within Chad. The 1981 elections in France soured the relations further as the misery, suffering and anarchy consumed Chad. The French socialist party ideologically reaffirmed their position in intervening into Chad, their by openly promoting their Neocolonialism interests in Chad. Mitterrand, the French president by then further intervened militarily especially in the most contested place of N’Djamena between 1983 -1984. This reinforced France’s support for President Habre of Chad against his rivals. Regardless of all the disagreements, France remains the key supporter and father of Chad (William 1987).
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In conclusion therefore, Chad is a Francophone and enjoys maximum relations with France. Although there were disagreements that to a certain extent soured the relations between the two countries, it is important that Chad and France focus mainly on the future reconstruction of Chad towards self sustainability. Whether Chad likes it or not, France knows best Chad than any other emerging Neocolonialists like China. All countries that need to help Chad are welcome but need to work with France in this noble cause.
With neocolonialism, there is no way former colonial masters would easily give up their former colonies. Chad should continue to nurture good relations with France in a bid to promote her economic progress. France should also revise a system of giving total autonomy to Chad and allowing her deal with any other countries as long as it does not affect the interests of Chad. This will reduce on the social, political and economic tensions between the two countries. Chad is at a stage where she can fend for herself and would continue to stand on her own without the burden of foreign donations. Therefore, France should forget the history and focus on building further Chad’s institutions towards self sustainability. These views are based on published works ( Padraig Carmody 2010).
Kelley and Michael P. A state in Dissarray: Conditions of Chad’s Survival. Boulder, Cororado: Weat View Press, 1986.
Le Cornec, Jaques. Histoire Politique du Chad de 1900 a. Paris: Libraire g’en’erale de droit et de, 1962.
Padraig Carmody. Globalization in Africa; Recoloniasation and Rennaissance. Dublin: Lynne Riener Publishers, 2010.
Page, Marvin E. Colonialism: An international, Social, Cultural, and Political Encylpedia. Santa Barbara, California: Melvin Eugene, 2003.
William, Foltz. Chad’s third Republic: Strength ,Problems and Prospects (CISIS African Notes No. 77). Washington: Centre for Strategic and international Studies, 1987.