Friday, June 11, 2004

Africans snubbed at D-Day remembrances [essay]

I was listening to the African music show 'Couleurs tropicales' on Radio France Internationale. The host pointed something interesting in the light of the recent D-Day celebrations. According to Afrik.com and its partner Le Quotidien d'Oran, nearly 42,000 North and sub-Saharan Africans died in the Liberation of France. Yet although the leader of the country that conquered France was a guest of honor, the French government did not invite a single African head of state to the D-Day ceremonies. The site also noted that while 292,000 Americans died in World War II, some 253,000 Africans were killed in defense of their colonial masters. So when the president, at his speech at Normandy tried magnanimously to acknowledge the contributions of other nationalities, "Across Europe, Americans shared the battle with Britains, Canadians, Poles, free French, and brave citizens from other lands taken back one by one from Nazi rule," he forgot an entire continent.

Speaking of irony, I see that South African president Thabo Mbeki was a guest at the state funeral of Ronald Reagan, the great "freedom fighter." Mbeki is also leader of the African National Congress, who fought to bring down the odious pro-apartheid regime so arduously supported by the Reagan administration.

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