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What Jacques Chirac Said About Africa in 2001

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Jacques Chirac Official Travel In Black Africa: Senegal. Accueil enthousiaste pour Jacques CHIRAC saluant la foule aux côtés du président sénégalais Abdoulaye WADE, debout à l'arrière d'une voiture, se tenant la main dans les rues de DAKAR.. (Photo by Jean-Claude Deutsch/Paris Match via Getty Images)

You have to catch leaders and academics off guard to find out what they really think. The truth is often not made public – but for President Jacques Chirac never a truer statement has been made by a European leader on the plight of Africa – as the one given below.

It is hard for some pan Africans to believe that a former French president uttered these statements that incriminate France’s foreign policy for Africa, yet, this was truly said by Jacques Chirac. He said this in January 2001 (a year before the end of his first presidential term 1995-2002), in Yaoundé during the 21st Africa-France summit where about 30 heads of States gathered.

This was reported in February 2007 by Philippe Bernard and Jean-Pierre Tuquoi in an article published on lemonde.fr and titled “France-Afrique : la fin des “années Chirac”. In that article, they recounted the circumstances in which the president said this. “It was close to midnight when Jacques Chirac, beer in his hand, came to hold an impromptu interview with journalists. Indeed, several hours earlier, in Paris, the French episcopate published a stern letter advising the president to keep his distance from some African regimes which practice electoral frauds, resources capture, imprisonment and sometimes physical elimination”.

“M. Chirac (…) suddenly turned the defender of Africa against the church which is trying to teach lessons,” they wrote.

The whole statement was published in the edition of Canard enchainé published on January 24, 2001. That night, the president said:

“While speaking of Africa, we must check our memory.

We started draining the continent four and a half centuries ago with the slave trade.

Next, we discovered their raw materials and seized them.

Having deprived Africans of their wealth, we sent in our elites who destroyed their culture.

Now, we are depriving them of their brains thanks to scholarships which are definitely another form of exploitation because, at the end, the most intelligent students do not go back to their countries.

In the end, noticing that Africa is not in a good state and as bonuses for the wealth we made on its back, we are giving lectures…”.

Jacque Chirac 2001