Bonjour! Guess what? I enjoy French again! Hooray! I wanted to give you a quick update today and share some interesting things I’ve learnt so far about ‘Francophone Culture’ (if that’s even a thing…ooo…)
For my final dissertation, I’ve been given the option of 6 questions. The question I’ve picked to answer is, in a nutshell, “Is there one Francophone culture or multiple Francophone cultures?”. Now, I don’t know about you, but to me, there’s a pretty obvious answer there!
I’ve started by reading around the topic to give myself a wider knowledge than just my own brain and I’ve learnt about some interesting ideas. Just to be clear, this isn’t my essay and I’m not asking for help, although of course your opinions are welcome in the comments!
Tiken Jah Fakoly
Ok, I have an addiction. French reggae. I love this guy so much. Partly because he fits perfectly into my essay plan and partly because his music actually has meaning. There ain’t nothin’ goin’ down, and ain’t nobody yellin’ timber. Tiken Jah Fakoly is an Ivorian who sings in French. Ok, so that’s Francophone, right? But he’s pretty much dissing France, colonization and all that jazz in 90% of his songs. So is that still ‘Francophone’?
What is ‘Francophone’ anyway?
Francophone is often used to describe someone or somewhere or something ‘French speaking’. This would mean that ‘Francophone culture’ was culture from French-speaking countries across the globe, including France. However, some folks (by ‘folks’ I mean essay writing chaps who probably have a lot of letters after their names) claim that ‘Francophone’ means someone or somewhere or something that uses the French language but isn’t from l’Hexagone. Whether the term includes France or not, how can countries so diverse share a culture purely based on their language?
Yes, the French (and Belgians to a lesser degree) did their fair share of colonisation, and yes, this spread their language across the world to these countries now considered ‘Francophone’. However, if you compare somewhere like Vietnam, where the French were beaten in the First Indochina War by the Viet Minh, with somewhere like French Polynesia, where citizens vote in the French elections, the impact of colonisation surely can’t be similar enough to group them together as having one culture.
With the definition of the term ‘Francophone’ being disputed, how could you claim there is one ‘Francophone’ culture? To me, the answer is clear: there are a multiple of cultures within the French speaking world, some of which may not even be directly influenced by the French way of life, even if their existence is due to French colonisation. For example, if someone takes all you have, when they disappear and leave your country in a mess, do you aspire to their way of life, those who attacked you and took your freedom; or do you look to the past, to your ancestors who created what was before the French?
This still poses an interesting question – why do people like Tiken Jah Fakoly express themselves in French when their message is so rooted in their own, in this case African, culture and almost ‘anti-French’? That’s what I intend to get to the bottom of in my dissertation. Bring it on!
Have you studied something similar? Do you have any thoughts? Feel free to share them in the comments!
And, a reminder, as I said above, this is not my essay, rather a collection of a few thoughts buzzing around right now that I wanted to share. I am not looking for answers, I merely wish to share what I’ve found with you lovely people!