France is considered the diplomatic nation of the world. Their language was adopted by United Nations (UN) and other international organisations as the official diplomatic language. How was this achieved by France?
“Assimilation was one ideological basis of French colonial policy in the 19th and 20th centuries. In contrast with British imperial policy, the French taught their subjects that, by adopting French language and culture, they could eventually become French. The famous ‘Four Communes’ in Senegal were seen as proof of this. Here Africans were afforded all the rights of French citizens.
“The French Assimilation concept was based on the idea of expanding French culture to the colonies outside France in the 19th and 20th century. Natives of these colonies were considered French citizens as long as the culture and customs were adopted. This also meant they would have the rights and duties of French citizens.
“The meaning of assimilation has been greatly debated. One possible definition stated that French laws apply to all colonies outside France regardless of the distance from France, the size of the colony, the organization of society, the economic development, race or religious beliefs. A cultural definition for assimilation can be the expansion of the French culture outside Europe”. – Source: Wikipedia
Compared to the British Imperial System, which seemed to profit immediately from every colony they found themselves with trade policies, the French focused much on building bridges to change the people’s behavior through their culture and language so that, so to speak, they were assimilated (converted) into French citizens.
Can we learn anything from this? Will this type of relationship become your style of relating to other people? Let’s look at the following which if we can glean from the French Colonial Assimilation Policy:-
- Relate well with strangers/foreigners: Build relationship with people who are not your own. You never know when you will need their help one day. The legendary Ghanaian culture prides itself in treating foreigners/strangers even better than their own. No doubt, this country is seen as an island of peace in the troubled West Africa which is noted for civil wars, extreme religious violence, etc. Not only has its first president, Kwame Nkrumah, championed African Union but its citizen, Kofi Annan, headed the United Nation for two terms; the first black African to get to that level.
- Don’t consider profit first: Many people would never befriend you unless they can get some benefit of the sort from you. The French Policy was not built on Profit-First. Relate to people so that when they mature to a certain stage, they will help you in times of need. David was a good friend to Jonathan, a prince and a son of King Saul who became a staunch enemy of David. But Jonathan, not profiting from David, still maintained the friendship. At the end of the day, David became the king and had to show mercy and love to the son of Jonathan who was a cripple. Have you learned anything from that?
- Learn from them and let them learn from you: Learn from people of other cultures and let them also learn from you. You benefit a lot from getting a different perspective how people see life and how they relate to others. Do not just reject people of other cultures because you are coming from a “higher culture” and you regard others as “low class” people. You may have to look for Adolf Hitler and friends and find out how successful they were or have been in such matters.
- Share with them your success: Sharing success changes other people’s behavior. You must share your goodies with others. Well, it may be regrettable sometimes to give to people who refused to acknowledge even in terms of thanksgivings but the Lord says you must still share with them. You are only lending to the Lord what you give to the poor and needy and you shall surely reap the rewards many times. Don’t take it for granted.
- Live in peace with others: Dialogue reinforces peace instead of taking arms against those you considered as enemies. We have been exhorted; “Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord. On the contrary: ‘If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” – Romans 12:17-21
This publication is only highlighting the positive side of things. Do not come back and say that France played roles in the Cote d’Ivoire, Libya and Guinea conflicts in Africa. Yes, the post-colonial strategy must have changed for the worse but still we can look back and see what we can learn from the past.
See things from the positive side from what I have highlighted.
You shall be blessed indeed.