Title

The New Face of Francophonie in North Africa

Subject Area

French and Francophone Studies

Abstract

Since the independence movements swept over many regions of Africa in the fifties and late sixties, the heritage of the Francophonie has undergone and is currently undergoing numerous changes. In an article, published in the newspaper http://thinkafricapress.com, titled “Speaking the Same Language? Africa and the Future of la Francophonie” (2011), it was suggested that several African countries, including Rwanda and Gabon, have begun to move away from their francophone colonial heritage by embracing an English language and a diversified multicultural model.

This presentation explores the example of North African countries where a new political order is currently unfolding. The roots of some of these developments, this paper argues, stem from the complex cultural and historical relationships that these countries have had with their Francophone and non-Francophone cultural heritage. In fact, since their independence, when the Nationalist ideology dominated both the political scene, the countries of North Africa have made various attempts to move away from the French cultural model and replace it with the Arab nationalist ideology. These efforts appear to be motivated more by a reaction to colonial domination and its legacy than by a well-planned model of society.

This paper discusses the disastrous results that followed and how they are due to the fact that neither the Francophone nor the Arab Middle Eastern models were adapted to the realities of North Africa. To illustrate the ideological shifts and their impact on some North African elites, let’s quote al-Ghannouchi, currently the leader the Tunisian Ennahda party, and perhaps one of the most influential politicians in Tunisia. He explains his change of heart from Arab nationalism to Islamism:

“Mille neuf cent soixante-six, le 15 juin. C’est au cours de cette nuit-là que j’ai décidé de passer de l’univers du nationalisme arabe et nassérien à celui de l’Islam. Je venais de prendre brutalement conscience que ni ce que j’étais ni ce que je vivais n’avaient quoi que ce soit à voir avec l’islam. Cette découverte a pris […] pour moi des allures de catastrophe: je réalisais que je n’étais pas musulman, que j’étais étranger à l’islam.” (1992: 48-49)

Brief Bio Note

Ali Alalou, French Linguistics PhD. UC Davis, is Associate Professor of French and Applied linguistics at the University of Delaware where he directs the French Language program and Coordinates the Foreign Language Education Program. He publishes in pedagogy, sociolinguistics and Afro-asiatic linguistics. Publications: forthcoming a Chapter titled: “Les langues au Maghreb: identité, enseignement, culture et politique” in an edited collection on Languages of/in Africa (Forcoming). His book titled: Portail de la Francophonie. Kendall Hunt publishing, (Forthcoming Spring 2015).

Keywords

Arabization, Colonialism, Francophonie, Identity, Language planning, Nationalism, North Africa, Pan-Arabism

Location

Room 221

Presentation Year

2015

Start Date

3-26-2015 3:00 PM

End Date

3-26-2015 4:15 PM

Embargo

5-23-2017

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Mar 26th, 3:00 PM Mar 26th, 4:15 PM

The New Face of Francophonie in North Africa

Room 221

Since the independence movements swept over many regions of Africa in the fifties and late sixties, the heritage of the Francophonie has undergone and is currently undergoing numerous changes. In an article, published in the newspaper http://thinkafricapress.com, titled “Speaking the Same Language? Africa and the Future of la Francophonie” (2011), it was suggested that several African countries, including Rwanda and Gabon, have begun to move away from their francophone colonial heritage by embracing an English language and a diversified multicultural model.

This presentation explores the example of North African countries where a new political order is currently unfolding. The roots of some of these developments, this paper argues, stem from the complex cultural and historical relationships that these countries have had with their Francophone and non-Francophone cultural heritage. In fact, since their independence, when the Nationalist ideology dominated both the political scene, the countries of North Africa have made various attempts to move away from the French cultural model and replace it with the Arab nationalist ideology. These efforts appear to be motivated more by a reaction to colonial domination and its legacy than by a well-planned model of society.

This paper discusses the disastrous results that followed and how they are due to the fact that neither the Francophone nor the Arab Middle Eastern models were adapted to the realities of North Africa. To illustrate the ideological shifts and their impact on some North African elites, let’s quote al-Ghannouchi, currently the leader the Tunisian Ennahda party, and perhaps one of the most influential politicians in Tunisia. He explains his change of heart from Arab nationalism to Islamism:

“Mille neuf cent soixante-six, le 15 juin. C’est au cours de cette nuit-là que j’ai décidé de passer de l’univers du nationalisme arabe et nassérien à celui de l’Islam. Je venais de prendre brutalement conscience que ni ce que j’étais ni ce que je vivais n’avaient quoi que ce soit à voir avec l’islam. Cette découverte a pris […] pour moi des allures de catastrophe: je réalisais que je n’étais pas musulman, que j’étais étranger à l’islam.” (1992: 48-49)