Pan-African Festival invites France to take a fresh look at Africa

France will host a flagship pan-African event in December designed to break down negative stereotypes of Africa and its people. In the speech of French President Emmanuel Macron announced in 2017, the Africa2020 Season will bring together continent change makers to ‘tell their own story’.

N’GonĂ© Fall had her doubts when she was first approached to organize the Africa2020 Season.

“Why would they do something so crazy as to invite a continent, we are too big for that country, no matter how big France is,” she told RFI about her first meeting with advisers France’s Presidential Council for Africa.

‘I thought they were going to do the most pointless project. How can I help them? How can I save them so that they do not embarrass us and make us angry by telling the world this is what Africa is all about, we can tell you who are we. “

Because even if you think you know Africa, you do not know. This was the premise that prompted the Senegalese architect to tackle the mega pan-African project known as Africa2020 Season: an eight-month extravaganza that offers the best that the African continent has to offer.

“Sometimes you meet people who say, ‘Oh, I’ve been to Africa before, I love it so much, I know Africa.’ Seriously, I’m 53 years old and still trying to figure out what this great continent is all about, ‘Fall told RFI in an interview recorded earlier this year.

See the world through Africa’s eyes

Fall was before the subsequent coronavirus closures forced to push back the event from June to December by six months.

Few have changed in format. Spectators will be treated to more than 200 projects in the fields of arts, science, technology, entrepreneurship and economics, while school children will also receive lessons on African history.

Africa 2020 season: an invitation to see the world through Africa’s eyes

The season is a civil society-driven event and an “invitation to understand and view the world from an African perspective,” Fall said.

More than a dozen so-called ‘Africa headquarters’ will be set up on the French mainland and in overseas territories to enable curious spectators to ‘discuss, dream and change the world together’, Fall said.

French gentle thrust?

The Africa2020 season was announced in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, in 2017 by French President Emmanuel Macron while he wanted to France’s relations restored with the African continent.

It was nevertheless criticized because it was an instrument of the French government to assert its soft power in a region with the court China.

“Do I seriously look like a puppet?” retorts choice.

“Yes, France has its agenda, but who does not have an agenda? You think that 200 projects led by more than 200 civil society professionals, some of whom say radical activists, accept to be part of this wonderful adventure to manipulate? It’s a fantasy. ‘

How will she measure the success of Africa2020 Season?

The fact that African history will be gradually incorporated into the French curriculum on the basis of a partnership between Unesco and France to change the way Africa is taught in schools.

“Remember that these French children will learn the same history that I learned in Dakar and that our children are learning today. For me, it is success,” she said.

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