On the sidelines of 18e Summit of the Francophonie, in Djerba, Emmanuel Macron engaged in a radioscopy of the place of French in the world, and more particularly in Africa.
According to the verbatim turkish news agency Anadolu and the Saudi site in French Arab News, the French president first took stock of the presence of French, noting that, “in the Maghreb countries, we speak less French than twenty or thirty years ago”. A reality that Emmanuel Macron attributes, first of all, to “quasi-political forms of resistance”.
Thus, he said, France “must have a plan to win back”, in order to make the French language again “hospitable”, in particular by showing that this language is not “not necessarily academic” and can also be a language facilitating commerce.
Finally, for Emmanuel Macron, French is for the African continent “the true universal language” :
“Lhe francophonie is the language of pan-Africanism.”
A noteworthy presidential analysis by African Exponent, who answers it in an article. For the Pan-African site, some of the president’s statements are “ill-founded”. If Africa is indeed the country where the number of French speakers is highest in the world – there are 120 million spread over 24 French-speaking countries – more than 130 million Africans have a good command of English and do not speak French on a continent with 25 English-speaking countries. And the information site to add:
“No, French is not the universal African language. Kiswahili [principale langue écrite de l’Afrique subsaharienne] remains the most widely spoken language in Africa, with around 150 million speakers.”
In addition, emphasizes African Exponent, to choose, Africans would prefer an indigenous language as the language of Pan-Africanism rather than “French, English or Arabic!” African languages such as Kiswahili, Hausa (West and Central Africa), Zulu (South Africa), Yoruba (West Africa), Ibo or I’igbo (Nigeria) and Fulani (West Africa) could claim this status of pan-African language, believes the author of the article.
The pan-African site, however, joins Emmanuel Macron on one point, that of the rank of the English language in Africa. According to the French head of state, “English is a new common language that people have accepted”. A remark shared by African Exponent, who notes that more and more Africans “resonate with the English language” more than with French in this status of lingua franca (the most spoken language in a vast geographical area) of the continent.