n Language Matters : Studies in the Languages of Southern Africa - Beyond “Fashoda Syndrome” : the Rwandan Civil War and the politics of La Francophonie in Africa - research

Volume 50 Number 3
  • ISSN : 0256-5986
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This article uses a case study to interrogate the politics of French in Africa. It examines French involvement in the Rwandan Civil War (1990–1994), and argues that by conceptualising institutions such as La Francophonie as “cultural” bodies, we risk obscuring their properly political functions. Through a consideration of the history of language in French colonial thought, and the translation of that history into the post-colonial idea of francophonie, the article foregrounds the political and economic benefits that France has received as a result of the spread of its language and culture. The article also provides an account of the role played by language and culture in France’s decision to support the Habyarimana government in a war that culminated in genocide. Ultimately, it argues for the importance of recognising linguistic organisations as political entities.

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