December 6, 2021

Africa Colonization by European powers was a controversial moment in our history – AU Chairperson

8 min read

Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat. said on Tuesday that colonization throughout two centuries will have brought face to face, African

Mahamat: African cultures and civilizations so different in their spiritualities and structuring dogmas but complementary in their humanism

cultures and civilizations so different in their spiritualities and structuring dogmas but complementary in their humanism and their essential and imperishable inclination to freedom.

Moussa Faki Mahamat was addressing the European Parliament in Strasbourg.

Mahamat said the colonization of Africa by European powers was, certainly, a controversial moment in our history in common.

“Yes, there was domination, exploitation, enslavement, even slavery, that execrable insult to human dignity, whose traces will not disappear as if by enchantment,” he noted:

Below is the speech by Mahamat:

 The Africa – Europe partnership, which has been strengthened since our first summit in Cairo in 2000, has taken decisive steps in its exciting adventure. I am convinced that the forthcoming November Summit being prepared will be a new step in our journey towards a bright future for our peoples.

colonizationThe Africa Europe couple has a beautiful story where, in the past, the shadows and lights have been crossed, but nowadays it boasts of its vivacity, its dynamism and its promises of a future, Horizon all in blue. Successive milestones of a series of contributions, from one shore to the other of the Mediterranean, Egypt, Greece, Phenicia, Rome, Carthage, have for centuries woven between our two Continents the canvas of An indissoluble relationship.

Colonization throughout two centuries will have brought face to face, our cultures and civilizations so different in their spiritualities and structuring dogmas but complementary in their humanism and their essential and imperishable inclination to freedom.

The colonization of Africa by European powers was, certainly, a controversial moment in our history in common. Yes, there was domination, exploitation, enslavement, even slavery, that execrable insult to human dignity, whose traces will not disappear as if by enchantment.

Famous poets have immortalized this affliction. African and European thinkers and intellectuals have interpreted and explored this segment of our history. Politicians have made the process of colonization and the hymn to the glory of decolonization the paradigm of their liberating doctrines. All of them have rightly drawn the right lessons so that this will never happen again.

However, I did not come today, as a passist, to stir the knife in the wounds and still less to allow myself to be tempted by the illusion of a construction of a continental destiny by exuding myself from the exaltation of a Past past. I simply wanted, in the opening remarks of my speech, to emphasize the indelible character of the scars left by this legacy of yesterday as it is forged and inscribed in the collective memory of the African peoples.

The history of our relationship, like all fiery and passionate history, has not only had shadows. It is also, fortunately, a history of enlightenment, of fertile exchanges, of reciprocal cultural and spiritual influences, enriching, vivifying, emancipatory.

Throughout the centuries, this encounter has contributed to the civilization heritage that is today yours, ours.


Ladies and gentlemen,

Our international environment is recomposed to a surprising and no less worrying speed. New powers emerge seeking their place in a world that has become multipolar. New challenges arise where the only hope for a lasting solution lies in collective and solidarity action.

In this restructuring of a geo-strategic universe, which is also highly globalized, Europe and Africa seem inevitably bound to strategic understanding, seized by the vital evidence of their common destiny. Their history, their different but complementary values, their geographical proximity, which makes each one the extension of the other, incites them and invites them constantly, with force and reason.

In order to flourish and bear fruit, the partnership between the EU and the AU must be based on sound principles and take shape in all its fields, reflecting its multidimensional scope, its visionary ambitions and its global challenges. Constant extension.

Mutual respect, equality, freedom and solidarity are the unalterable benchmarks and milestones of a strong, lasting, mutually beneficial relationship.

Africa has gathered its intelligences to devise and adopt an ambitious agenda for the next fifty years aimed at building an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa.

On the agenda, this agenda coincides with some key issues, the Africa-Europe strategy, which we are celebrating together this year, the tenth anniversary. The 2063 agenda is now the flagship of the African Union. It is it that marks our paths towards the future and lays the foundations for our international cooperation and our strategic partnerships.

Although Africa has been and still is the scene of many deadly conflicts, the main ones being in the Horn of Africa, the Sahel, the Lake Chad Basin and Central Africa, the elements of its rebirth are today tangible.

It is full of riches, such as its mines, its fishery resources, its vast arable land and above all the vitality of its predominantly young population. Good governance, based on a courageous and determined vision of African integration, trade incentives, the elimination of customs barriers, innovative initiatives in clean agriculture and renewable energy, technology and services, is an essential lever Of the renaissance sought.

Its rate of economic growth has remained sustainable over the past decade. Will support our ambition, a merciless struggle against impunity, mismanagement, corruption, waste and embezzlement of public funds. From this point of view the priority for us is the implementation of the relevant instruments adopted by the competent bodies of our Union and the respect by the Member States of the commitments contained therein.

The reform of the African Union decided by the January 2017 Summit presents itself as a real chance of our rebirth in that it resolutely commands an assumption of responsibility for the organization by ourselves. As such, it is called upon to strongly support the positive trends observed.

Our continent is now combining all its forces to reduce the social tragedies it faces through drought, famine, armed conflicts and human rights violations in order to eradicate them.

These crises and conflicts put twin issues of peace and security at the top of our priorities. Silencing weapons by 2020 is an objective we pursue with determination and determination.

The fight against terrorism, jihadism and radicalism is at the heart of our constant commitment to peace, security and stability, to which we dedicate unremitting and vigorous efforts, both in prevention and in post-conflict management and reconstruction .

We highly appreciate the multifaceted support provided by the European Union in this struggle through, inter alia, the Peace Facility.

All current and prospective assessments indicate with certainty that Africa is the region of the world that suffers the most from the degradation of the natural environment and climate change. The devastating effects on flora and fauna reduce – irreversibly – irreversibly, even the possibility of life in large parts of the continent. The atrociously disconcerting paradox here lies in the fact that Africa, the continent’s least polluter of the planet, is the one who suffers the most from climate change.

Is it not superfluous, in this respect, to recall that Africa benefits only from congruent portions of international efforts and sacrifices in order to counteract or, at the very least, alleviate the universal threat posed to humanity climate changes. This issue is one of the areas of our partnership which must now be better understood, treated better and better prioritized.

In connection with this requirement is closely linked the opening of large corridors to the African and international private sectors. It is to be welcomed that European trade with Africa has increased in recent years by 50%, bringing the total volume of European private investment to 200 billion euros per year.

The company is the first creator of wealth, jobs and economic prosperity. Its crucial role in our economic and social development will now be a key factor in our policies and strategic partnerships.

Our deep awareness of the imperatives of a new economic governance encourages us to situate ourselves in the perspective of a continental free trade zone.

This consciousness makes us particularly attentive and sensitive to private investment ideas and the bold invention of a Marshall Plan for Africa, a concept advocated by the German G20 presidency, to which I express This prestigious and honorable forum our firm support for its steps in this direction.

African youth account for more than 60% of the population. Women constitute more than half of the current population of Africa. Youth and gender are in our strategic vision of cross-cutting concerns that will water all our programs conducted alone or in partnerships with other actors.

The question of the emigration of whole sections of our young people in Europe poses a double danger: to those who throw themselves blindly on the paths of the shipwreck, to those who without preparation are submerged by its floods of human beings.

The challenge we all face, this phenomenon has no solution, except one: to develop Africa and reinvent for our youth a better future in the continent. Our partnership finds here an untapped field of exceptional community of mutual interest and benefit.

The diaspora, considered in our vision as the sixth region in Africa after those of the South, the North, the East, the West and the Center, occupies an important place in our agenda. Its multifaceted contribution to the development of the Hemisphere draws on its intellectual and financial resources.


Ladies and gentlemen,

I have emphasized in the preceding passages on the fields of partnership that are almost common to us. They are the essence of the message that you do me the honor to listen to.

I would be incomplete, however, and my burning thirst for open-hearted, unpolished talk would remain unanswered if I did not ask the basic question of the relationship between the universalism of our partnership and its relativism.

There are many questions, if any, of shades, even sometimes of divergences between Europe and Africa. It is not my temperament, nor the political philosophy on the basis of which the Heads of State and Government of Africa elected me to preach the conflict of civilizations, cultures and religions. My credo, on this soil is dialogue, the search for consensus, mutual discovery, understanding, solidarity of civilizations, cultures and religions. I plead not for the construction of the walls to protect themselves from the Other but for the construction of the bridges to socialize and communicate with this Other.

By building bridges, we can not preach the uniformity and negation of differences. Our diversity is the driving force behind our movement, our life, our dynamism.

Is it not unjust, dishonorable, and injurious to evade this fruitful diversity by diplomatic abuse?

Yes, Africa has its own views on a series of questions. The issues of international criminal justice and universal jurisdiction, the relationship between justice, peace and reconciliation.

Obviously, the often overused slogan “African problems of African solutions” can not serve as an alibi or a pretext for legitimizing deviations and other political errors. Nevertheless, it retains a burning topicality. I am delighted with the remarkable vigilance of African civil societies and their mobilization on almost all the fields of our cooperation.

Perhaps, Honorable Members, would you find that I have overloaded the train of our partnership? I dare hope to protect myself from my turpitude by the famous formula of Jules Verne: “Nothing is made of great which is not an exaggerated hope”


Ladies and gentlemen,

I invite you to consider that you have in Africa an open heart, an awakened mind and firm, laborious but generously stretched hands.

I thank you for considering this invitation and, more importantly, for accepting my heartfelt thanks for your kind attention.


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