Black Africa and the French Union
FELIX HOUPHOUET-BOIGNY, Deputy from the Ivory Coast to the French National Assembly; President of the "Rassemblement Démocratique Africain;" Minister Delegate attached to the Prime Minister's Office, Paris; member of the French Delegation to the United Nations, 1956See more by this author
IN this second half of the twentieth century, a newcomer has made its appearance on the international scene: Black Africa. Strategists, politicians, economists are no longer indifferent to what happens in Dakar, in Abidjan, in Accra, in Lomé. Never has our old continent been honored by so many visitors of such high rank nor been the object of so much study. But since the era of colonialism is over, it is first of all the Africans themselves who must be consulted on the future evolution of Africa and on the relations between the former subject peoples and the former colonizers.
I am a man of the African soil, having lived constantly in the midst of our rural Negro masses, sharing their joys and their sorrows, and making their great hope of liberty my own. For ten consecutive years, they have elected me to represent them in the French Parliament. I am the leader of the most powerful African political movement--a movement which continues to this very day to denounce the abuses and errors of colonialism, and to call untiringly for justice and equality. For these reasons, I think I have the right to consider myself the authentic spokesman of the millions of African men and women who have chosen, in preference to the type of independence just acquired by the neighboring state of Ghana, a Franco-African community founded on liberty, equality and fraternity.
In considering where the real interests of the colored peoples of the French territories in Africa lie, we do not begin with a blank slate. The relations which prevail between Frenchmen of the mother country and Frenchmen of Africa already exist in an historical complex of events lived in common, in which good and bad memories mingle. I forget neither the good nor the bad, but I think that the bonds thus forged are, like childhood memories, understandable and emotionally significant only for the initiated, for those near to the events, for those whose lives these bonds have cast in the same mold. I will therefore examine only the present state of relations within the French Union, as they have evolved during the past ten years.