Did you know many African countries continue to pay colonial tax to France since their independence till today!
When Sékou Touré of Guinea decided in 1958 to get out of French colonial empire, and opted for the country independence, the French colonial elite in Paris got so furious, and in a historic act of fury the French administration in Guinea destroyed everything in the country which represented what they called the benefits from French colonization.
Three thousand French left the country, taking all their property and destroying anything that which could not be moved: schools, nurseries, public administration buildings were crumbled; cars, books, medicine, research institute instruments, tractors were crushed and sabotaged; horses, cows in the farms were killed, and food in warehouses were burned or poisoned.
The purpose of this outrageous act was to send a clear message to all other colonies that the consequences for rejecting France would be very high.
Slowly fear spread trough the african elite, and none after the Guinea events ever found the courage to follow the example of Sékou Touré, whose slogan was “We prefer freedom in poverty to opulence in slavery.”
Sylvanus Olympio, the first president of the Republic of Togo, a tiny country in west Africa, found a middle ground solution with the French.
He didn’t want his country to continue to be a french dominion, therefore he refused to sign the colonisation continuation pact De Gaule proposed, but agree to pay an annual debt to France for the so called benefits Togo got from french colonization.
It was the only conditions for the French not to destroy the country before leaving. However, the amount estimated by France was so big that the reimbursement of the so called “colonial debt” was close to 40% of the country budget in 1963.
The financial situation of the newly independent Togo was very unstable, so in order to get out the situation, Olympio decided to get out the french colonial money FCFA (the franc for french african colonies), and issue the country own currency.
On January 13, 1963, three days after he started printing his country own currency, a squad of illiterate soldiers backed by France killed the first elected president of newly independent Africa. Olympio was killed by an ex French Foreign Legionnaire army sergeant called Etienne Gnassingbe who supposedly received a bounty of $612 from the local French embassy for the hit man job.
Olympio’s dream was to build an independent and self-sufficient and self-reliant country. But the French didn’t like the idea.
On June 30, 1962, Modiba Keita , the first president of the Republic of Mali, decided to withdraw from the french colonial currency FCFA which was imposed on 12 newly independent African countries. For the Malian president, who was leaning more to a socialist economy, it was clear that colonisation continuation pact with France was a trap, a burden for the country development.
On November 19, 1968, like, Olympio, Keita will be the victim of a coup carried out by another ex French Foreign legionnaire, the Lieutenant Moussa Traoré.
In fact during that turbulent period of African fighting to liberate themselves from European colonization, France would repeatedly use many ex Foreign legionnaires to carry out coups against elected presidents:
- – On January 1st, 1966, Jean-Bédel Bokassa, an ex french foreign legionnaire, carried a coup against David Dacko, the first President of the Central African Republic.
- – On January 3, 1966, Maurice Yaméogo, the first President of the Republic of Upper Volta, now called Burkina Faso, was victim of a coup carried by Aboubacar Sangoulé Lamizana, an ex French legionnaire who fought with french troops in Indonesia and Algeria against these countries independence.
- – on 26 October 1972, Mathieu Kérékou who was a security guard to President Hubert Maga, the first President of the Republic of Benin, carried a coup against the president, after he attended French military schools from 1968 to 1970.
In fact, during the last 50 years, a total of 67 coups happened in 26 countries in Africa, 16 of those countries are French ex-colonies, which means 61% of the coups happened in Francophone Africa.