The African Woman in the French Government

Token black in Sarkozy government represents “her people”

From the Front National’s National Hebdo weekly

Without a doubt this is the first time that a French minister, or supposed minister, said chez nous (“on our premises”) while speaking not only of another country, but of another continent. This is in fact what Rama Yade, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and for Human Rights, said in the course of an interview produced in  Paris by the Senegalese Radio Future Media. An interview where one notes also that Rama Yade does not really speak French* as did Léopold Sédar Senghor [late French-educated much-lauded Senegalese writer, poet, first president of the Republic of Senegal, member of the Academie Française and longtime poster boy for a multi-racial France. . . .

“Africa,” she says, “I can’t just not give a damn about it (m’en foutre), because I was not born here” (i.e. in France). Indeed, she was born and lived the first part of her childhood in Senegal. “I had a history before and then the ultimate objective, that’s still this continent, one day, perhaps. Basically, here all is done, whereas chez nous all remains to be done. And thus one can be useful, if the others want it because one should not force things and if one has the means likewise …”

In French translation, that means that the young lady aspires to be a minister chez elle (“on her premises”), in Senegal, since all remains to be done in the African continent, whereas here “all is done.”

Under these conditions, one asks why she is a minister in France. Without a doubt the French government should serve her as a springboard…

It’s also that she believes she represents Africa all by herself. She is Africa in the French government.“I always have it in my head, when I am facing a political leader or the media, to say to myself : whatever it may be that I want or what I do (sic), these people here see me as a representive of Africa. I am obliged to be correct, I am obliged to be good, because I want to break all the prejudices that people can have about this continent and its inhabitants… I assure you that when one is the youngest head-of-staff of the UMP,** it is not obvious. But good, one fights because it is necessary to brawl, it is not always fun (drôle), but I do it because I like it, because I have felt the need to do things for others, because no matter what one thinks of it, my image is that of Africa and if I fail, it is Africa which fails.”

If I fail it is Africa which fails, the little Ramatoulaye Yade does not fear to claim. And if she succeeds, will Africa succeed? No, obviously, but she, yes, she believes that she will then be able to aspire to a post chez elle. But “whatever” she wants or does, though one does not say this in Dakar, Ramatoulaye Yade is only a pretty pawn of color on the chess-board of Nicolas Sarkozy. One takes it, one moves it, one removes it, it disappears…

* Of course, she speaks French, but not properly and in a generally uneducated, rambling manner.

** UMP = L’Union pour un mouvement populaire (The Union for a Popular Movement), the leading political party in France today, the party of French President Nicolas Sarkozy who appointed Rama Yade as minister. Sarkozy also appointed Rachida Dati, a French-born woman of Moroccan-Algerian origin, as Minister of Justice. Sadly, her 34 year old brother, Jamal Dati, was sentenced this week by an appeals court in Nancy to 12 months in prison for drug trafficing; it was at least his second offense, he had been out on parole.

Y. D. in French [.pdf

Translation for Western Voices by GH