Top Francophone economists & diplomats (namely H El-Karoui from Morocco, T Thiam from Côte d'Ivoire, L Zinsou from Benin, J-M Severino and H Vedrine from France) submitted a joint report [fr] that outlines the strategy that France should implement to remain competitive on the African Market in the near future. Joel Té-Léssia highlights 15 key points [fr] from the report, one of which is to do away with the “Zone Franc” policy and to allow the regional currency to fluctuate with respect to the Euros. Té-Léssia also underlines the fact that the report is clearly devised to counter growing influence of China and other emerging nations in the Africa continent. Africa economic growth is projected at 5.2 % in 2014.
Latest stories from Quick Reads + France
Maria Malagardi reports from the Central African Republic News Blog that President Michel Djotodia is increasingly isolated [fr] from his allies as the crisis deepens in his country and a French military intervention is in the works :
Certains de ses proches de passage à Paris ne savent même pas à qui il faut s’adresser à l’Elysée ou au Quai d’Orsay pour évoquer la situation en Centrafrique. Les autorités françaises, visiblement, préférent dialoguer directement avec le Premier Ministre, Nicolas Tiangaye [..] Certes, Michel Djotodia, un temps diplomate au Soudan, n’a pas réussi à ramener la sécurité dans son pays neuf mois après son arrivée. Un échec réel mais qui ne doit pas faire oublier que dans ce pays connaît aujourd’hui des affrontements intercommunautaires d’une ampleur inédite
Many of his close allies do not know anymore whether they should liaise with the French presidency or the Foreign office Ministry to exchange on the situation in the Central African Republic. French authorities seem to exchange directly with the prime minister Nicolas Tiangaye. [..] For sure, Michel Djotodia, who once was a diplomat in the Sudan, did not manage to bring peace and security back in his country nine months into his mandate. It is clearly a major failure but one should not forget that the country has faced an unusual massive number of inter-communities conflicts.
France is set to send an additional 1,000 troops to the Central African Republic to prevent an escalation of the conflict in the region. So it came as a bit of a surprise when France decided to replace its ambassador Serge Mucetti in the country on the eve of such an important military mission. Philippe Bolopion, the United Nations director at Human Rights Watch, asserts that the Central African Republic is on the cusp of a potential genocide if the international community does not intervene. He writes :
A conflict that had more to do with predation and power than with religion took an ugly, sectarian turn in September, when Christian militias known as “anti-balaka” (“anti-machete”) started attacking Muslim communities, slitting the throats of women and children and at times announcing that they wanted to exterminate all the Muslims.
Known as “the capital of participatory democracy”, the Brazilian city of Porto Alegre will become subject for a lab in the World Forum for Democracy. Focus will be given to the case of PortoAlegre.cc, a project created at the University of Vale do Rio dos Sinos (Unisinos) which is based on the concept of wikicity – a digital platform that enables the debate on and development of the city:
PortoAlegre.cc é um espaço de radicalização da democracia, onde você tem voz e vez para discutir a cidade, mostrando o que ela tem de bom e o que precisa ser melhorado. Melhor ainda, você pode dar sua opinião de como a cidade pode melhorar, e chamar as pessoas para ajudarem a transformar essa ideia em realidade.
PortoAlegre.cc is a space for radicalization of democracy where you have the voice and turn to debate the city, showing the best of it as well as what needs to be improved. Even better: you can give your opinion on how the city can be improved and call people to help to transform that idea into reality.
Organized by the Council of Europe with the support of the French government, the World Forum for Democracy takes place from November 23 to 29 is Strasbourg, France. PortoAlegre.cc will be discussed in the last day of the conference, November 29, in a panel dedicated to the importance and the future of wikicities:
Giving citizens the initiative and control over policies reverses the traditional model of policy-making – what are the results of wikicity experiments so far, as well as challenges encountered?
Anne-Sophie Simpere reports that the Uranium exploitation contract between Niger and Areva, a french energy company, are set to be re-negotiated as it comes to an end as of December 2013. She writes [fr]:
Il est incompréhensible que le Niger, 4ème producteur d’uranium au monde, et fournisseur stratégique d’Areva et de la France, ne tire pas davantage de revenus de cette exploitation et reste l’un des pays les plus pauvres de la planète. Les négociations en cours représentent une occasion historique pour le Niger d’obtenir de meilleures conditions pour l’exploitation de ses ressources, y compris de plus grandes retombées financières. [..] En France, une ampoule sur trois est éclairée grâce à l’uranium nigérien. Au Niger, près de 90% de la population n’a pas accès à l’électricité. Cette situation ne peut plus durer. La France doit prouver que le temps des contrats secrets, des négociations opaques et des pressions sont finies.
It is beyond comprehension that Niger, the fourth largest uranium producer in the world, and strategic supplier of the Areva group and France, do not draw more income from such exploitation and remains one of the poorest countries in the world. The current negotiations represent a historic opportunity for the Niger to obtain better conditions for the exploitation of its resources, including greater financial benefits. [..] In France, one in three light bulbs is powered by uranium from Niger. In Niger, about 90% of the population has no access to electricity. This situation cannot continue. France must prove that the time of secret contracts, opaque negotiations and diplomatic pressures are over.
Epitomized by racial taunts [fr] towards the French Guiana-born Minister of Justice Christine Taubira on the cover of the weekly newspaper Minute, many observers bemoan the rise of racist behaviors [fr] in France. One of those observers is Harry Roselmack, a prominent reporter born in Martinique, who wrote an editorial in which he opines that the current atmosphere in France reduces his citizenship to the color of his skin [fr]:
Ce qui me chagrine, c'est le fond de racisme qui résiste au temps et aux mots d'ordre, pas seulement au sein du FN, mais au plus profond de la société française. C'est un héritage des temps anciens, une justification pour une domination suprême et criminelle : l'esclavage et la colonisation. [..] Tant que l'on laissera ces peaux de Banania traîner dans nos cerveaux, des glissades et dérapages vers l'injure raciste sont à craindre. Surtout par les temps qui courent, avec cette crise qui alimente la xénophobie de son bien étrange carburant : la jalousie envers plus mal loti que soi.
What saddens me is that there are remnants of racism that presevere through time and political correctness, not only within the FN party (ed's note: a far right political party) but also deep within the French society. This is a legacy from an ancient time, a justification of a supreme and criminal oppressive era : slavery and colonization. [..] As long as we leave banana peels hanging around in our brains, slides and skids and tumbles to racist insults are bound to happen. Especially in these challenging times, in which economic crisis feeds the most basic xenophobia with its strangest component: jealousy towards those who are much worse off than ourselves.
Blogger Wirriyamu mourns the two French journalists killed [fr] in Kidal, Mali. But beside his immense sadness, Wirriyamu also feels angry at seeing Northern Mali left helpless yet again to terrorists attacks. He writes [fr] about his silent anger at the situation there :
Tant qu’il ne sera pas possible de patrouiller dans Kidal, tant que cette ville ne sera pas réellement dans une situation normale, ce genre d’assassinat continuera hélas à être possible. Si la paix doit avoir pour prix cette zone de non droit, alors (que les maliens me pardonnent) nous devons y renoncer au moins momentanément.
As long as the army is not allowed to patrol in Kidal, this type of assassination will continue to happen. If there were to be real peace in this stateless zone, the price to pay (May my Malian friends forgive me) might be to renounce peace temporarily.
On 0ctober 30, 87 people trying to reach the Mediterranean sea died after being abandoned in the Sahara Desert when their drivers left them stranded to seek for help. The harrowing story of one the survivors, 14-year-old Shafa, highlights the plight of many migrants trying to reach Europe and the obstacles they face. In an article entitled “dying at the gates of Europe”, Philippe Rekacewicz, a french cartographer, illustrates with a series of map the story of the migrants struggle from Africa to Europe [fr]:
Protests have continued against South Korea's spy agency who allegedly interfered with the latest presidential election and manipulated public opinion to tip the scales in favor of current president Park Geun-hye. Ahead of Park's official visit to Western Europe, Koreans living in France held candlelight vigils denoucing the allegations and more are planned next week in the United Kingdom and France. @wjsfree posted a nice roundup of protest photos and links.
October 17 was the international Day for the Eradication of Poverty. Four groups, the Abbé Pierre Foundation, France Inter, Génération réactive et la Fondation Agir contre l'exclusion de Seine-Saint-Denis decided to give four homeless persons a platform on twitter to narrate their everyday lives. They live in different cities of France: Paris, Metz or Bourges. The blog Tweets2rue explains in more details the objective of the project [fr]:
une expérience de 6 mois où la parole est directement donnée aux personnes de la rue pour raconter, via Twitter, leur quotidien ou partager leurs états d'âmes.
This will be a 6-months-long project in which homeless folks will directly tell their story via twitter, their everyday lives and their ups and downs
With their mobile phones, Patrick (@kanter57640, 47 and homeless for 3 years), Ryan (@usher226, 24, and homeless for 4 months), Nicolas (@nickopompons, 36, 10 year homeless) and Sébastien ( @DjamaikaPtiseb, 33, also 10 years without a home) will share their lives in the streets directly on social networks. You can also follow the project via the hashtag #tweets2rue.
French investing group Bolloré [fr] made a donation of 6 electric buses to the University of Felix Houphouët Boigny at Cocody in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire. The first two buses were delivered on October 16 under great scrutiny from the Ivorian press and social media. In fact, the donation stirred a major controversy over the cost of the project, 1.2 billions CFA francs (about $2.5 million USD) and the putative agenda behind the “generous gift”. Ivorian blogger Yehnidjidji wrote a blog post that summarizes all the reactions [fr] to the project and various comments on social networks.
Léonarda Dibrani, 15, was on field trip with her schoolmates when she was detained by the french police, near Levier, France. She was later deported with the rest of her family [fr] to Kosovo as illegal immigrants. The Dibrani family fled Kosovo about five years ago because they are Roma. Léonarda tells the story of her deportation andthe conditions in which she lives now[fr], not being able to speak Albanian nor Serbian. In a social context where Roma population is frequently stigmatized, the french government has promised to conduct an investigation on the conditions of the arrest. The hash tag #Leonarda has been a trending topic on French social networks since the arrest and more 3000 people have already signed a petition for her return. Many observers have noted that the law has been applied appropriately in this particular case.
30 years ago (October 15, 1983), a march for equality against racism [fr] began in Marseille with 32 people, mostly of Arab origin, to ask for the right to vote and a 10-year resident card. The Beurs’ March (Beur is a colloquial french term for people with roots in Northern Africa) arrived in Paris on December 3 with more than 60,000 people having joined in the initial set of marchers. Numerous events are celebrating the anniversary all over France, though in a complicated context given the rapid rise of the far-right in France. The following video is one of the many media productions commemorating the anniversary [fr]:
French MP Philippe Le Ray came under fire with accusation of sexism because he was heckling a fellow colleague, Veronique Massonneau, during her speech at the national assembly. Below is the video of the incident [fr]:
Cackling is often used as a derogatory term for women chatter in France. This incident prompted a storm of reactions on twitter under the hashtag #pouletgate (translation: #chickengate). Furthermore, the profile of Philippe Le Ray on Nos députés [fr] (english: Our representatives), the citizen project monitoring the activity of the MPs got a sharp increase in visitors after the incident. His activity profile shows that Philippe Le Ray mostly participates in debates on assisted procreation and same sex marriages at the parliament.
The statement from the interior minister of France Manuel Valls gave new life to the tense relationship of France with the Roma community. Mr Valls said on France Inter radio [fr] on September 24 :
ces populations ont des modes de vie extrêmement différents des nôtres et qui sont évidemment en confrontation [avec les populations locales]“.
This community has a way of life that is very different from ours and their way is clearly at odds with the way of life of their neighbors.
The statement got plenty of reactions from the francophone community on twitter, some with a hint of sarcasm :
C'est les roms qui sont la cause de tous nos malheurs, c'est à cause d'eux qu'il y a plus de 25 % de chômage chez les jeunes en Europe.
— Michel Rueher (@Michel0669) September 25, 2013
Roma people are the reasons for all of our misfortunes. It's because of them that more than 25% of youngsters in Europe are unemployed.
— Julien Valette (@Julien_Valette) September 25, 2013
These families are caught between a rock and hard place: a declining Europe that rejects them and the mob that is getting richer
On a subject that was already quite sensitive for Human rights in France, the Minister's statement got him a warning from the Council of Europe:
Ce débat perpétue une tendance inquiétante vers une rhétorique anti-roms discriminatoire et incendiaire, et risque de prendre un virage dangereux avec les prochaines élections municipales et européennes.”
This debate is taking a worrisome path towards a narrative hostile and discriminatory towards the Roma community. It might also take a turn for the worse during the next European parliamentary and municipal elections.
A Tumblr blog collects testimonies [fr] of people who know a sexual predator. The “About” page of the site states that the goal is to show that rapists are not just psychopaths who are statistical outliers but people we know (80% of rape victims knew their aggressors). One contributor recalls one such tragic story [fr]:
He was 38 when he left for a village in Africa on a missionary journey. Everyone [back home] admired his work for the population. He came back 3 years later and no one know why. [..] I learned a year ago he reason he returned: He raped children there. He confessed to his crime but he is still free. [..] I hate how my parents and their friends try to find excuses for the horrors he committed.
For a long time, there have been certain words, such as [Arabic greetings] “Salam alaykum” or “hamdu’llah”, which everyone could understand, even though they are not part of the French language. Nowadays, we are witnessing a new wave of words of African origin (black and Maghreb, among others), which fit well into the language spoken by many young people, whether they are originally from Africa or from Europe. As surprising as it may seem, this “enrichment” comes from the “bzèze” (breasts) of their mothers. Since most of them incorporate words spoken in the mother language of their parents.
This is a common language created in the 1980s, which is based on French, incorporating parts of the many vernacular languages found in our country. Poorly-educated youths in Abidjan, who had not learned French well, had to invent a language which incorporated their various dialects. So, this language was associated with the image of juvenile delinquents. This can be seen in its etymology: The word “nou”, in the language of the Malinké ethnic group, in the north part of Côte d’Ivoire, means “the nose”. Meanwhile, the word “chi” means “hair”. The conjunction “Nouchi” means “moustache”, in reference to moustachioed thugs whom everyone was afraid of. Today, in Abidjan, “Nouchi” still means “a thug”.
For a long time, Nouchi was the preserve of street children, but later it managed to expand its presence, to the point that it is spoken today by all segments of the population. The President of the Republic himself is no exception. Nouchi has also been exported abroad, thanks to Ivorian Zouglou music, and thus it has reached the entire world.
Lambo T. reports [fr] on the website of La Gazette de La Grande Ile that Samifin [mg], the agency in charge of cleaning up the financial sector and combat transnational illegal operations in Madagascar has been suspended from the Egmont Group of financial intelligence units. Egmont is an international network that helps tracks money laundering or terrorism financing. Lambo T. explains that the current administration's failure to move forward on a Bill against terrorism and transnational organized crime that led to Samifin's suspension.
Nadéra Bouazza explains what being “tchippée” [fr] means for french speaking black communities. Tchip is the sound one makes when he/she disapproves of the behavior/action of someone else (roughly similar to the “shaking my head” internet slang). The “Tchip” sound is used across most black communities and has become an internet meme:
News Websites Rue89 and Basta Mag are indicted [fr] following charges by French investment and industrial holding group Bolloré over a report in which they implicate Bolloré [fr] in land grab activities [fr] in Africa. The report lists the group's activities in Côte d'Ivoire, Cameroon, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Politis, a weekly analysis website, reacted to the news on twitter :
Liberté de la presse : Basta ! et Rue 89 mis en examen suite à une plainte du groupe Bolloré: Nos amis de Bast… http://t.co/alwE9XJBwU
— Politis (@Politis_fr) August 2, 2013
Freedom of Press : Basta ! and Rue89 are indicted following charges by Bolloré Group : Our friends at Basta…
Rue89 is a partner of Global Voices en Français.
I decided to decline using my entry visa to France [..] I am waiving it off on behalf of the thousands of Senegalese citizens who deserve respect, a respect that they are often denied at the French consulate.
Those are the words written by Bousso Dramé in an open letter to the French consulate [fr] in Dakar, Senegal. Bousso Dramé is a Senegalese consultant, London school of economics graduate who was Paris-bound to receive a literary prize. The disrespect she faced [fr] while trying to obtain her visa is an experience that many African citizens could relate to according to the many online reactions [all links - fr] following her open letter.
“Worldcrunch Impact, solutions without borders” is a collaborative funding campaign for “the first truly global effort at Solutions Journalism”. With the project, Paris-based Worldcrunch hopes to report on one urgent issue monthly, offering “not just the problems, but real solutions”. The project will be funded if at least $15,000 is pledged by July 3, 2013. With 23 days to go, the Kickstarter campaign has 84 backers donating $6,630.
Twitter user @Eh4b10 has posted several photos on twitter of a car explosion near the French Embassy today around 6:50 am local time in Tripoli, Libya.
The Journalism School of Lille [fr], in partnership with Canal France International (CFI), set up a website for online resources on journalism: 24 hours in the life of a newsroom. The objective of the site is that anyone who so wishes can learn through the experience of media professionals. The site unpacks the work of a newsroom in 24 steps for four media categories : print, television, radio and web. It is available in five languages, including Arabic and Swahili.
The ramification of the Steubeunville rape case has had an impact beyond the US borders. Following the sentencing of the perpetrators for rape of a minor, CrêpeGeorgette [fr] tries to unpack the rape culture [fr] that has sneaked in in today's society.
The fact is that we are living in societies that find excuses, normalize and tolerate rape.
Interest for Japan is at its peak among readers in France [fr] despite the Asian nation's gloomy economic outlook. Therefore, French Magazine ZoomJapan [fr] has featured 50 Japanese people that are transforming the archipelago; from architect Kyohei Sakaguchi―who established what he calls “independent government”―, to dancers, activists, business entrepreneurs, and journalists. The compilation is available online in French, Japanese and in English.
Rick Falkvinge, the founder of Pirate Party, reinterprets the wars of religion that devastated Western Europe in the XVI and XVII centuries in terms of the current struggle to control information through overbearing legislation related to copyright and freedom of expression:
The religious wars were never about religion as such. They were about who held the power of interpretation, about who controlled the knowledge and culture available to the masses. It was a war of gatekeepers of information.
Seven European free culture associations issued a statement [fr] protesting against a public-private partnership between the French National Library BNF and Proquest database [fr], whose aim is to digitize a large amount of Public Domain works and privatize them with an exclusivity period of commercialization of ten years. Activist Philippe Aigrain explained [fr] “the genealogy of this disaster” on his blog.