The French are yearning for Obama … or maybe not.



Rue 89, France

'Where is the French Obama?'


"There is something hypocritical in the 'Obamania' that is sweeping France … This is typical for France, where one likes to extol the merits of recipes from abroad without doing anything to concoct them 'at home.'"


By Guy Numa, Professor and Researcher at Paris-Dauphine


Translated By Sandrine Ageorges


July 22, 2008


France - Rue 89 - Original Article (French)

The only Black member of France's National Assembly: George Pau-Langevin who represents the 21st district of Paris.


BBC NEWS VIDEO: Senator Obama calls for global unity in Berlin, July 24, 00:02:58. RealVideo

There is something hypocritical in the "Obamania" that is sweeping France: Obama, Black, young and un-cunning, is the archetype of the kind of person that the French political class invariably fails to produce. This is typical for France, where one likes to extol the merits of recipes from abroad without doing anything to concoct them "at home."


The impact of the Black Senator’s candidacy on France is hardly ever discussed - and can even be characterized as silence. How to explain that a "phenomena" like Obama still hasn’t occurred in our country? It's been 160 years since France definitely abolished slavery, and yet one must note that the effective integration of "minorities" in the economic and political sphere is infinitesimal. In the National Assembly, the large majority of Black members are from the overseas territories. Out of the 577 elected MPs, there is just a single exception: George Pau-Langevin [She is the MP for 21st district of Paris].


Where is the French Obama? The courageous Christiane Taubira  had merits in her time. Unfortunately, the enthusiasm generated by her candidacy didn't reach beyond the first round of the 2002 presidential election. We have to go back to colonial times to find traces of talented Black politicians in high office: Gaston Monnerville , the former Senate president who nearly became interim president of the Republic in 1969 - if of course he hadn't resigned from his post a few months earlier; or Félix Houphouët-Boigny , the first President of the Ivory-Coast who held the rank of Minister of State on several occasions. How can we make sense of the fact that personalities from the French Colonies in 1950s and 60s were associated with managing the country of Lights, and yet today we have no French Obama?




Obama’s path was possible only because the structures of the Democratic Party enabled him to emerge, over and above his undeniable attributes: charisma and talent. Just as the Republican Party has allowed Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell to emerge and assume top levels of accountability and visibility.


To those who retort that for all things, there must be a beginning, and that the presence of Justice Minister Rachida Dati [French-Moroccan ] and Secretary of State for Human Rights Rama Yade [French-Senegalese ] in the government is just that - so we should rejoice, I say that there's nothing new to this. 



The practice of conferring ministerial posts on Blacks (Caribbean or Africans) or to people of North African origin is nothing new: others who come to mind are Léon Bertrand [former tourism minister who is French Guyanese ], Roger Bambuck [former minister of youths and sports ], and former secretary of state for integration Kofi Yamgnane [French Togolese … 




During the waning years of the colonial era, personalities like [the first president of Senegal] Léopold Sédar Senghor in 1955-56 , [former assistant secretary of state] Hammadoun Dicko in 1957, Modibo Keita in 1956-57  were also named ministers. Keita even became Vice President of the National Assembly. One can also include, among others, Gabriel Lisette, councilor-minister to between 1959 and 1961 - or a woman, Nafissa Cid Sara - between 1957 and 1962.


It's therefore urgent and necessary to redouble the discussion about the scope of Obama’s candidacy. In this connection, I must concede my surprise at the relative silence of the Representative Council of Black Associations. I would have liked to hear the organization explain the meaning of Obama’s candidacy for Blacks in France. In any case, I expected more than a press release.

































[Posted by WORLDMEETS.US July 28, 7:49pm]