Lizant, September 1
Day 38 of the March on Brussels. From Mansle, 27 km.
The Charrente is one of the poorest regions of France. And the locals who come to talk to us here offer us a lot of goodwill. They open their doors for people who need a shower, they bring food, they encourage us to go on. After the estranged and worried looks we experienced in the south, it seems as though our march is starting to make an impact.
In the end it’s logical that it be that way. We are peaceful people marching for a human cause, and the locals here appreciate that. This also goes for the police. We haven’t had any real problems with them since Bayonne. When we arrived in Angoulême, the police said that for them it wouldn’t a problem if we camped in the centre of the town. Later, a representative from the city council came to visit us and said it was out of the question. We camped anyway, and the police refused to do something about it.
Today we arrived in another enchanting French village. The mayor of the town received us with curiosity and a kind word. I start to love these places. Many of the old houses around the tiny church and the local bar are for sale, others are abbandoned family property of people who have long ago moved to the cities. Fortunately, there are always some inhabitants who resist. They are the soul of the country, heirs of the France that was.
The walk to Lizant was pleasant, even though interrupted by the rain more than once. We are joined by a comrade from Morocco. He talks to me about the French relations with Africa. I’ve heard these stories before, but it’s good to hear them confirmed from someone who knows what he’s talking about.
France maintains a very intimate relation with her former colonies in Africa. This relation is so intimate that the word ‘former’ is out of place. La Françafrique, composed by most of West and Central-Africa, is still as much a French colony now as it was half a century ago.
The French can make or break governments in Africa. They still have troops all over the continent to enforce the decisions made in Paris. French companies control energy resources, water and tourism, and they make a big profit from selling arms. They buy immense pieces of land which used to be planted with rice and other basic food products by small farmers, and they have them produce luxury products like exotic fruit or cacao for the European market. It’s exactly what the Dutch did in the East Indies. The farmers of Java were starving so that the bourgeoisie in Europe could drink coffee.
Africa is the richest continent on earth, but its inhabitants depend on the import of heavily subsidised grain from Europe or the US in order to survive. It’s a most vicious way to enslave a country, taking away its possibility to feed their own citizens.
Imperialism has changed shape many times over the centuries, but it is ever present in a society based on competition instead of cooperation. Profit is the driving force of it. In this great game, the principal goal of the national governments is to create the most favourable possible climate for their own businesses to make a profit. And the greater part of Africa is still considered a French domain in this.
At the Berlin Conference on Africa in 1884, the European powers divided up Africa amongst each other, and they never left. Only lately are they challenged by another power who is playing the big game, and gaining fast. China.
In a globalised world the revolution can only be global. And food autonomy at the smallest possible scale is a primary goal. Without it, there is no way that real democracy can work.