The Death of Françafrique

France’s colonial past is coming back to haunt it as French president Emmanuel Macron lays out a new kind of trans-continental diplomacy.

In a recent interview, Macron said that, “Colonization is part of French history… It was a crime against humanity. It was barbarous. It’s part of the past that we must face up to.”

Seeking to escape the kind of “neo-colonialism” of former president Jacques Chirac and the ambivalence of Nicolas Sarkozy, Macron is taking what seems to be a middleground approach to mending ties with the formerly French-colonized parts of Africa. Far from the “Françafrique” custom of propping up African dictators with friendly ties to France, Macron claims that his relationship with Africa will be one based on equality instead of powermongering.

The French president set off his new agenda with a four-day tour of West Africa, which included a Q&A at a university in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, in an attempt to open a dialogue with African youth about the future of their continent.

The road to building equality may not be easy, but this Frenchman seems primed and ready for the journey.