The French African Connection

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History Documentary hosted by Patrick Benquet, published by Al-Jazeera in 2013 - English narration

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Image: The-French-African-Connection-Cover.jpg

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This series explores the dark and dramatic history of France's relationships with its former African colonies. This series tells the story of 'France Afrique': a brutal and nefarious tale of corruption, massacres, dictators supported and progressive leaders murdered, weapon-smuggling, cloak-and-dagger secret services, and spectacular military operations.

[edit] France's Thirst for Energy

The first episode untangles the web of political connections between France and its former African colonies. After independence, France still needed Africa's natural resources, particularly its oil - and Africa needed French investment. This dependence allowed France to position itself as the guardian of its former colonies. In order to ensure that it could easily reap resources like oil, gas, gold and uranium, France secured stability in these African countries. General de Gaulle, the French president from 1959 to 1969, established an Africa unit that reported directly to him. And Jacques Foccart, an influential businessman and ally of de Gaulle, developed a network of French and African politicians, leaders and businessmen to maintain control in the former colonies. This network, its actions and the policies it employed, became known as Francafrique. This story reveals the lengths the former colonial power has gone to – from coups and assassinations to rigged elections and embezzlement – in order to satisfy its thirst for energy.

[edit] The Elf Scandal

The second episode reveals France's ongoing mission to secure access to oil and maintain a firm grip over its former colonies. In the decades following independence, France supported the lavish lifestyles of African dictators while their people endured extreme poverty. A complicated network of government and non-government employees laundered money through the country's public oil company, Elf Aquitaine. When this was revealed in 1994, it became known as the Elf scandal. People who were involved in this network also rigged elections and orchestrated coups. The French government even paid for one African leader to become an emperor - only to later overthrow him. But after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the uncovering of the Elf scandal, African leaders suddenly saw the balance of power shift in their favour.

[edit] Turning Tables

The last episode outlines France's gradual loss of power in its former colonies - some called it reverse colonisation; others called it independence. African leaders, well aware of France's need for their countries' resources, adopted the same manipulation tactics once used on them. So, after supporting a war in Biafra, overthrowing several presidents, collapsing Guinea’s economy and bribing leaders to support its interests, France started to lose the control that it once exercised in Africa. Some African leaders insisted on selecting French ministers and ambassadors. And presidents like Omar Bongo of Gabon and Mamadou Tandja of Niger realised that they could leverage their natural resources to sway French decision-making. Bongo threatened to sign drilling contracts with the Americans when Elf temporarily closed its Port-Gentil wells. And Tandja claimed he would hand over control of Niger’s largest uranium mine to the Chinese if France refused to agree to an increase in the price of uranium. Protests against France escalated to violence in several countries. Although France's control over its former colonies had weakened, the colonies still needed French investors - and this reliance allows some networks to persist today.

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[edit] Technical Specs

  • Video Codec: x264 CABAC Main@L3.1
  • Video Bitrate: CRF 21 (~1420Kbps)
  • Video Resolution: 832x440
  • Video Aspect Ratio: 1.89:1
  • Frames Rate: 25 FPS
  • Audio Codec: AAC-LC
  • Audio Bitrate: 128 Kbps ABR 48KHz
  • Audio Channels: 2 (English with some French)
  • Run-Time: 46 mins
  • Number Of Parts: 3
  • Part Size: 517 MB (average)
  • Source: PDTV
  • Encoded by: JungleBoy

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