French President Emmanuel Macron had been winning over liberals in Europe and the U.S. when he caught his adoring public off guard with recent comments about Africa that were widely seen as racist.
The 39 year old newly elected leader was expounding on why Africa is not deserving of a Marshall Plan, which rebuilt Germany after WWII. Too many children! he said. Spending billions on Africa is pointless when there are 7 or 8 children per woman, he explained.
Macron addressed African issues during the June 7-8 G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany. The president said the African continent’s problems were not economic, ecological, or political, but demographic.
“When countries still have seven to eight children per woman, you can decide to spend billions of euros, but you will not stabilize anything,” he stated.
The continent’s true challenge, he said, was “civilizational,” including failed states, shaky democracies, trafficking, extremism, and population growth.
“It seems that despite his youth and vitality, the new president is sticking to a very old line when it comes to France’s position on Africa,” wrote Eliza Anyangwe, columnist with The Guardian.
“Macron’s statements make the blood boil not because they are novel but because they make no mention of the root causes of the challenges of which the president speaks,” she continued.
Online writer Siddhartha Mitter of the publication Quartz Africa observed: “Macron’s remarks fall into a tradition, as well, of grandiloquent and condescending statements about Africa that point to every cause of the continent’s difficulties other than colonialism and its enduring trace.
“In a Dakar speech in 2007, Nicolas Sarkozy observed that “the African has not fully entered history.” Macron’s “civilizational” comment is similarly obtuse, with the added perversion of echoing the “civilizing mission” at the core of French colonial ideology.”
According to Liberation, a French newspaper, blaming overpopulation for poverty and African women for overpopulation distracts the world from the roles played by colonial powers, such as France and the U.K.
French writer Françoise Vergès once wrote, “Third world women are made responsible for underdevelopment that causes overpopulation. The theory of overpopulation also avoids questioning the role of colonialism and imperialism in poverty.”