Listen Download Podcast
  • RFI English News flash 04h00 - 04h10 GMT Mon-Fri
    News bulletin 07/30 04h00 GMT
  • Paris Live AM 04h10 - 04h30 GMT Mon-Fri
    Features and analysis 07/30 04h10 GMT
  • RFI English News flash 05h00 - 05h10 GMT Mon-Fri
    News bulletin 07/30 05h00 GMT
  • Paris Live AM 05h10 - 05h30 GMT Mon-Fri
    Features and analysis 07/30 05h10 GMT
  • RFI English News flash 06h00 - 06h10 GMT Mon-Fri
    News bulletin 07/30 06h00 GMT
  • Paris Live AM 06h10 - 06h30 GMT Mon-Fri
    Features and analysis 07/30 06h10 GMT
  • RFI English News flash 06h30 - 06h33 GMT Mon-Fri
    News bulletin 07/30 06h30 GMT
  • Paris Live AM 06h33 - 06h59 GMT Mon-Fri
    Features and analysis 07/30 06h33 GMT
  • RFI English News flash 07h00 - 07h10 GMT Mon-Fri
    News bulletin 07/30 07h00 GMT
  • RFI English News flash 07h30 - 07h33 GMT Mon-Fri
    News bulletin 07/30 07h30 GMT
  • RFI English News flash 14h00 - 14h03 GMT Sat-Sun
    News bulletin 07/24 14h00 GMT
  • RFI English News flash 14h00 - 14h06 GMT Mon-Fri
    News bulletin 07/29 14h00 GMT
  • Paris Live Weekend 14h03 - 14h30 GMT Sat-Sun
    Features and analysis 07/24 14h03 GMT
  • Paris Live PM 14h06 - 14h30 GMT Mon-Fri
    Features and analysis 07/29 14h06 GMT
  • RFI English News flash 14h30 - 14h33 GMT Mon-Fri
    News bulletin 07/29 14h30 GMT
  • Paris Live PM 14h33 - 14h59 GMT Mon-Fri
    Features and analysis 07/29 14h33 GMT
  • RFI English News flash 16h00 - 16h03 GMT Sat-Sun
    News bulletin 07/24 16h00 GMT
  • RFI English News flash 16h00 - 16h06 GMT Sat-Sun
    News bulletin 07/29 16h00 GMT
  • Paris Live Weekend 16h03 - 16h30 GMT Sat-Sun
    Features and analysis 07/24 16h03 GMT
  • RFI English News flash 16h30 - 16h33 GMT Mon-Fri
    News bulletin 07/29 16h30 GMT
  • Paris Live Weekend 16h33 - 17h00 GMT Sat-Sun
    Features and analysis 07/24 16h33 GMT
To take full advantage of multimedia content, you must have the Flash plugin installed in your browser. To connect, you need to enable cookies in your browser settings. For an optimal navigation, the RFI site is compatible with the following browsers: Internet Explorer 8 and above, Firefox 10 and +, Safari 3+, Chrome 17 and + etc.
Africa

Hollande faces first controversy over tribute to 'racist' Jules Ferry

media President Francois Hollande (C) and Valerie Trierweiler attend a ceremony … Reuters/Joel Saget

France’s new President François Hollande started his term in office with a homage to Jules Ferry, the 19th-century politician seen as the father of the modern French education system. But Ferry was also an apologist for colonialism for racist reasons and that has aroused criticism.

Speaking at the foot of Ferry’s statue in Paris’s Tuileries Gardens on Tuesday, Hollande praised Ferry for laying the base of France’s free, secular and compulsory education system.

After promising to create thousands of jobs in education, Hollande chose the former education minister as a symbol of his confidence that the schools system can play a key role in the future of the nation.

But Côte d’Ivoire’s Fraternité-Matin didn’t see it that way.

“What a cold shower for those Africans – and there are many of them – who applauded the Socialist François Hollande’s victory in the 6 May French presidential election,” the state-run paper commented.

Ferry was a “fierce partisan of French colonial expansion, who developed the idea of a hierarchy of the races’, it pointed out.

Despite, or because of, his strong republican convictions, Ferry was indeed an ardent colonialist.

He established a French protectorate in Tunisia and launched the invasion of Annam, which was to become Vietnam, and Madagascar. He also pushed for further colonial expansion in sub-Saharan Africa.

Madagascar last month marked the 65th anniversary of a revolt against French rule that was put down with great brutality but is still little-known in France.

In a speech in 1885 Ferry justified colonialism with the claim that “superior races have rights in relation to inferior races”, adding that they had “a duty to civilise inferior races”.

The speech, which was bitterly criticised by Radical MP and future prime minister Georges Clémenceau, established the theme of France’s “civilising mission’, which would serve as the ideology of French colonialism until the end of the Algerian war of independence.

In his speech in the Tuileries, Hollande acknowledged the criticism, which was echoed by French politicians including the left-wing MP for French Guyana, Christiane Taubira, commenting that “all greatness has its weaknesses”.

“His defence of colonisation was a moral and political failure and should be condemned,” the new president said before passing to the positive aspect of Ferry’s legacy - education.

Hollande went on to place a wreath in front of a statue to Marie Curie, who won Nobel prizes for both physics and chemistry and was an immigrant from Poland.

Related
 
Sorry but the period of time connection to the operation is exceeded.