French President Sarkozy swims in racism’s deep end

By Malena Amusa Sep 14, 2007

First posted at ADDlife! So I’ve never been shot before. But hearing the words of French President Nicolas Sarkozy about Africa sure seemed close to it. His recent speech to students at a Dakar, Senegal University hit me like a bullet… Swiftly and burning. Painfully and shocking–and in just a few short stanzas, shattered my idea that representations of Africa and Africans were becoming less lumped and less tolerant of racism. Before a crowd of Black faces, Sarkozy said this:

"The tragedy of Africa is that the African has not fully entered into history. The African peasant, who for thousands of years have lived according to the seasons, whose life ideal was to be in harmony with nature, only knew the eternal renewal of time, rhythmed by the endless repetition of the same gestures and the same words. In this imaginary world, where everything starts over and over again, there is no place for human adventure or for the idea of progress. "In this universe where nature commands all, man escapes from the anguish of history that torments modern man, but he rests immobile in the centre of a static order where everything seems to have been written beforehand. "The problem of Africa, and allow a friend of Africa to say it, is to be found here. Africa’s challenge is to enter to a greater extent into history. To take from it the energy, the force, the desire, the willingness to listen and to espouse its own history. Africa’s problem is to stop always repeating, always mulling over, to liberate itself from the myth of the eternal return. It is to realise that the golden age that Africa is forever recalling will not return because it has never existed."

Undoubtedly, this makes our jobs tougher… We have to work harder to create more accessible platforms to tell our counter-narratives even where they already exist! This will take a revival of liberation spirits and a deep pursuit on our parts to learn histories. This challenge can be exciting, especially for artists. We can share knowledge in ways that morph libraries of information into rhyme, sound, and beauty. However knowledge alone doesn’t equal progressive social change. Sadly, despite the truth, we can’t count on some folk to help us. For example, South African president Thabo Mbeki insisted after this speech that Sarkozy is still a "friend" of Africans and an African renaissance. But it’s clear, Sarkozy isn’t even a distant cousin. A quick Google/ YouTube search of him reveals a swamp of news about his anti-African immigrant policy. Sarkozy, a son of immigrants, is threatening to kick African families out of France. Like in his speech, he’s landed on some serious amnesia by forgetting France’s role in Francophone Africa’s ruins. Not to mention, Sarkozy’s comments are absent of even remote post-caveman thinking. I mean if there’s anything all Africans have in common –it’s gotta be our rich, long, and dynamic history. Further, to deny the human dignity of Africa is dangerous. History-less people are easily deduced and destructed. Really, Sarkozy is sanctioning the erasure of African people from the narrative of civilization. And I don’t trust his future attempts to do this won’t involve violence and perhaps real shooting. Besides standing guard and keeping an awareness alive in our minds and our moving bodies, what else can we do? Leave a note…