Speech by H.E. Prof. Robert DUSSEY as part of the symposium of the Academy of Overseas Sciences of May 26, 2023 on the theme “One hundred years of passion and beyond for the overseas territories”
Reinventing the relashionship between Africa and its diaspora from overseas France in the context of the rewal of Pan-africanism
Mr. President of the Overseas Academy of Sciences,
Mr. Chief education officer of the Île-de-France academic region and the Paris Academy,
Mr. Perpetual Secretary of the Overseas Academy of Sciences,
Ladies and gentlemen the panelists,
Ladies and gentlemen,
1- The organizers of this symposium initially asked me to introduce the discussions on the theme “Overseas tomorrow: demography, environment and democracy, three capital issues”. After discussions with them, we rather agreed on the theme “Reinventing the relationship between Africa and its overseas French diasporas in the context of the revival of Pan-Africanism”.
2- I would like to thank them for their flexibility and openness which made this waiting possible, but also for my invitation to this important event on overseas. The French overseas territories have a particular type of relationship with Africa and it was with pleasure that I accepted to participate in the event.
3- Indeed, to return to my subject indicated above and begin, I would like to point out that the current context is that of the revival of Pan-Africanism and it is normal that we are interested in the relationship between Africa and its diasporas. ; and in the specific case here the relationship between Africa and its overseas French diasporas.
4- The interest in African Diasporas in the current context of the revival of Pan-Africanism has a historical justification and is linked to the history of Pan-Africanism itself: Pan-Africanism was first born in the Diaspora, carried by the Diaspora before being carried on a continental scale by great figures such as Kwame Nkrumah, Cheikh Anta Diop and Julius Nyerere. Diasporic Pan-Africanism and Pan-Africanism on a continental scale are therefore the two faces of the same reality since continental Pan-Africanism is only an endogenous reappropriation of the pan-African dynamic initiated by Afro-descendants of the Caribbean and America.
5- We cannot understand the challenges of emancipation and African renaissance today without thinking of Trinidad, where Henry Sylvester William comes from, who organized the first Pan-African conference in London in 1900, without thinking of Afro -American William Du Bois, Jamaica by Marcus Garvey and the Caribbean by Edward W. Blyden. We cannot do it either without having in mind the immense deconstruction and revolutionary work of a certain Frantz Fanon from Martinique. What could be more Pan-Africanist than the intellectual commitment of Aimé Césaire within the framework of Negritude in the service of the emancipation of the oppressed in Africa and elsewhere? Aimé Césaire himself said that “The Negritude movement affirms the solidarity of blacks in the diaspora with the African world.”
6- The three great figures, Aimé Césaire, Léon-Gontran Damas and Léopold Sédar Senghor, represented pan-Africanism in miniature in the dynamics of negritude which contributed to improving the image that the peoples of Africa and the African diasporas had of them. themselves, to rediscover a sense of their own dignity in the development of a positive relationship with the rest of the world. Their efforts have contributed to the rehabilitation of African identity which is the true foundation of Pan-Africanism.
7- The African diasporas of yesterday served the cause of emancipation, dignity and freedom of humanity. Today’s African diasporas can still play the same role. We know how certain personalities from Guadeloupe, the West Indies or Martinique have fought in recent years for a fair recognition and representation of the memory of slavery in the French national consciousness, and beyond, in the consciousness of the ‘humanity.
8- The multiple identities of the African diasporas of overseas France mean that they are at the same time West Indians, Guadeloupeans, Martinicans, French, but also Africans of African origin. Guadeloupe, for example, is Caribbean because of its geographical position, French because of its administrative-political status and African because of the African origin of part of its population, and this is true for other French overseas territories.
9- The Afro-descendants of France overseas have the memory of their African roots. They are French citizens, but remain our brothers since fraternity is the cement of Pan-Africanism. Or, as Georges Padmore says, “The idea of Pan-Africanism first arose as a manifestation of fraternal solidarity between Africans and peoples of African descent”.
10- We are in a revolutionary context (there are silent revolutions) of re-examining and reinventing the relationships of each with each other, male/female relationship, Africa/France relationship, global North/South relationship, South/South relationship, Human/ Nature, given the ecological challenges and the relationship of Africa to its diasporas in Europe and America, cannot remain on the sidelines of this movement to reconfigure relationships. “Everything is changing and we have to live with the times! “, said Seydou Badian, the author of Sous l’orage.
11- Africa intends to revitalize relations with its diasporas, in particular with the diasporas of France overseas. And fortunately, the interest in Pan-Africanism is very noticeable among the African diasporas of overseas France. There is a significant part of Guadeloupeans, West Indians, Martinicans who are not only convinced of their belonging to the great African family, but also determined and who envisage their global future in the movement of Pan-Africanism. I do not forget of course Mayotte, Reunion, and what else do I know?
12- Of course, the African diasporas of overseas France are free to make their way alone, but I have the firm conviction that this path will be easier and less strewn with trials when it is part of the movement of whole of Africa and its diasporas on the path of Pan-Africanism. The day when Africa will become or will again become one of the great powers of the world and Africans will be strictly respected both in their identity and in their humanity, the situation of the African diasporas in French overseas territories and elsewhere will become other; not to say better. The fate of Africa and that of its diasporas are in fact closely linked.
13- Pan-Africanism has been and still remains today the most representative framework of the alliance of Africa with its diasporas. The current challenge is to revitalize the Pan-African international in the interest of Africa and its diasporas around the world.
14- Africa’s relationship with Afro-descendants should not only be a relationship that is turned towards and based on the past aimed at reaffirming their Africanness or African identity. It must be apprehended in its actuality and especially in its future, a future to be built together within the framework of Pan-Africanism. Africa and its diasporas form a transnational network of common actions in the dynamics of Pan-Africanism.
15- In the current context of the revival of Pan-Africanism, it is possible to reinvent the relationship between Africa and its overseas French diasporas and this new relationship could be established on the principles of exchange, collaboration and mutual support. On both sides, we must encourage the establishment of economic partnerships, relations of cultural and artistic exchanges, exchanges in sectors such as education, scientific research, agriculture, health.
16- I cannot finish my intervention without indicating some initiatives of Togo in favor of the strengthening of the relationships between Africa and its diasporas. On the proposal of the Togolese government, the African Union declared in February 2021 the decade 2021-2031 “Decade of African roots and the African diaspora”. This means that the desire to strengthen the relationship between the continent and its diaspora is very real.
17- Similarly, I would like to point out that at the initiative of Togo, we are organizing, in collaboration with the African Union, in 2024 in Lomé the 9th Pan-African Congress. The 9th Pan-African Congress, which will be launched this very week in Lomé, will focus on the theme “Renewal of Pan-Africanism and the role of Africa in the reform of multilateral institutions: mobilizing resources and reinventing itself to act”.
18- It will be a privileged opportunity for Africans living on the continent, from the diaspora and Afro-descendants to meet, discuss and take highly relevant resolutions intended to support the process of continental development and the collective efforts of our States to improve Africa’s participation and representativeness in global governance.
19- The African diasporas and Afro-descendants of France overseas as well as the African diasporas from other parts of the world are eagerly awaited in Lomé next year in Lomé for the beauty of the mass of the 9th Pan-African Congress.
Thank you for your kind attention.