A New Paradigm for Africa: Sarkozy’s Vision for a ‘Eurafrique’

A New Paradigm for Africa: Sarkozy’s Vision for a ‘Eurafrique’

Since taking office, French President Nicolas Sarkozy has articulated a new paradigm to structure Western engagement with Africa. This paradigm dispels the idea that Africa is a sick and helpless continent for the West to rescue and instead calls for robust European-African partnerships to manage Africa's genuine challenges of violence, poverty, and corruption. True to his reputation as a man of action, Sarkozy has already transformed these ideas into practical policies, and the result has been a flurry of promising and innovative diplomatic initiatives concerning Africa over the past two months, especially vis-à-vis the ongoing tragedy in Darfur. If one takes Sarkozy at his word, this is only the beginning, for he hopes to reform international institutions to facilitate a far more vigorous Western engagement with Africa, based on the principle of partnership, not paternalism.

During the presidential campaign, Sarkozy pledged a "rupture" with " la Francafrique" -- the basis of France's traditional relations with Africa, marked by personal ties with the ruling, corrupt elites of its former colonies. At the end of July, Sarkozy made his first trip to sub-Saharan Africa as president and stopped in Senegal and Gabon.

Sarkozy elaborated his vision for Africa in a speech to students at the elite Cheikh Anta Diop University in Dakar. The speech was long -- 45 minutes -- and affected a pedagogical tone, with Sarkozy repeatedly chanting the phrase "I am not here to" do this or that, followed by incantations of "I am here to" do so and so. It was replete with philosophical ideas, history lessons, and literary allusions.

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