African Diaspora: Hard times for Africans in France and Belgium

Several francophone blogs have tackled African immigrants’ latest tribulations in France and Belgium.

Choosing Immigrants

Le Pangolin criticizes French interior minister Nicolas Sarkozy’s latest round of immigration policies. The blogger sees Sarkozy’s approach as a diversion from the real social issues raised by protestors of the CPE [Youth Employment Law]. Le Pangolin, belies Sarkozy's assertions that France wants to start “choosing its immigrants” through new, tighter policies:

La France a toujours choisi son immigration, rappelez-vous des balayeurs sénégalais que la France est allée prendre au Sénégal et Mali, des ouvriers des usines automobiles Renault et Peugeot qu’ils sont allés chercher au Maghreb pour casser le parti communiste et la Cgt qui étaient virulents et puissants dans les années 50 à 1970.

France has always chosen its immigrants. Remember the Senegalese janitors whom France imported from Senegal and Mali, the Renault and Peugeot auto factory workers they went to fetch in Maghreb to break the communist party and the CGT union’s strong influence between 1950 and 1970.

Le Pangolin ridicules a French government drowning under youth unemployment protests attempting desperately to redirect public attention towards a scapegoat, the African immigrant:

Le message est donc clair, on ne fera plus venir ces gens, on veut des immigrés qualifiés ayant fait des études chez eux, désormais vous aurez ces emplois (…) Les personnes qui sont visées par le CPE sont surtout les non qualifiées, or depuis longtemps le patronnât français et l’élite française ont réservé ces emplois aux immigrés (balayeurs, femmes de ménages, gardiennage, garde malade, éboueurs, ouvriers du bâtiment, coursiers).

The message is clear, we will no longer let these people in, we need skilled immigrants educated in their home countries. From now on, you will get these jobs (…) People affected by the CPE [Youth Employment Law] are unskilled for the most part and up until now the French elite and French employers have reserved these [unskilled] jobs for immigrants (janitor, maid, security guard, nurse’s aid, construction worker, messenger).

Love France or Leave It

At Forum Realisance, blogger Musengeshi Katata critiques Sarkozy’s “Love France or leave it” quote which he finds ironic in light of France’s unwillingness to integrate Africans or to grant them opportunities similar to those afforded French whites:

La France, monsieur Sarkozy, ce n´est ni une prostituée obligée à lever ses jupons les jours de famine, ni une église où tous les vices sont acceptés pourvu qu´on dise amen ou encore une nations gouvernée par des principes occultes et douteux ; c´est hélas bien autre chose que cela : c´est une des nations les plus ambitieuse de cette terre. Et malgré tous ses manquements et ses défauts, dans son cœur vivant et chaud, elle couve un des meilleurs idéals de l´existence humaine, et ne vous en déplaise, c´est ce havre brûlant et vertueux que nous aimons aveuglément. Et croyez-le ou pas, nous allons la défendre et continuer à l´aimer, parce que nous sommes persuadé qu´elle représente, dans son âme attendrie et sincère, le plus beau de tout rêve humain.

France, Mr. Sarkozy, is neither a prostitute obliged to lift her underskirts in hard times, nor a church where all vices are accepted provided that one says amen, nor a nation ruled by occult and doubtful principles; it is different from all that : it’s one of the most ambitious nations in the world. And in spite of all its shortcomings, in its living and warm heart, she harbors one of the best ideals of human existence, and it is this burning and virtuous haven that we love. Believe it or not, we are going to defend it and continue loving it because we are convinced that it represents in its tender and sincere soul, the most beautiful of human dreams.

Stranded in Belgium

From France, we skip over to Belgium with Le Renouveau Congolais‘ Etienne Ngandu who writes about a group of African immigrants threatened with deportation who have been taken in by Sint Antoniuskerk Church. They have lived in Gand for years and their children go to school there, says the blogger, but they are being denied residency. The blogger recounts:

Nous sommes allés donc à la rencontre de ces hommes et femmes qui ne demandent qu’à vivre et être traités avec dignité. En effet, ces personnes ont perdu complètement tout repère de la vie, puisque se retrouvant en marge de la société car tel est le sort réservé à tous ceux qui n’ont pas le fameux sésame qu’est un titre de séjour valable. Tous vivent dans la peur et l’angoisse de se faire expulser à tout moment de la Belgique.

I went to meet with these men and women who ask for nothing more than the right to live and to be treated with dignity. Indeed, they have lost touch with life because they are on the fringe of society. That’s the plight reserved to all those who do not have official permission to reside here. Each and every one of them lives in fear and anguish of being deported at any time from Belgium.


  • elle

    There is a great post I found on Sarkozy and Immigration. It is in French, but it is worth reading. The url for the link is

  • More Global Apartheid?

    In my previous post, I’ve quoted anthropologist Owen Sichone about the concept of “Global apartheid”:

    Whatever the advantages of apartness are (more economic than cultural), the South African system came to an end just as the rest of the world …

  • Many of France’s immigrants do the dirty work that French people do not like to do. The French don’t want them, but they need them.

    The North Africans are ostrasised for many reasons, but paramount among these reasons is that they, in general, do not want to integrate with the French society. They make very little effort to adapt to their host country.

  • john arthur

    The problem is both complex and simple. There are millions of Latin Americans in Europe and they get along just fine – they work, they learn the languages and they marry Europeans. Even Far Asians integrate. Europe’s immigration problem can be identified in one word: Islam. There is within Islam a core of hate and anger that cannot be controlled. Add to this the stupid doctrine of multiculturalism, and you have a time bomb. Throw in the welfare state, and the fuse is lit. Forget the politically correct “Europe is evil” “Europe needs to do more” and “racism” explanations. If you want to find the primary problem, look at the Quran and what they teach in the mosques. There, yes, you will find your hate and racism. Consider the life and teaching of Muhammad. This man did so many vile things, yet as we have seen in the cartoon controversy he not only cannot be criticized, but must even be respected – so much that freedom of speech is supressed. Islam stands for everything that is contrary to Western civilization and 500 years of enlightenment.

    Musims, once they reach a certain population level, cannot be integrated. They do not want to be integrated. They want control. There is nothing Europe can do that will make Muslims happy, except dhimmitude. Bad times are coming for Europe. It was slept with the devil and now must pay the price.

    John arthur, aka kactuzkid

  • safiya

    It is a lie to say that there are millions of south americans in europe! The few south americans that are in Europe are educated and from urban areas and can succeed in Europe. The poor of south america do not go to europe-they go to america. Most moslem immigrants in europe are the rural poor in their home country. They would have had a difficult time making it in their own country let alone europe. Europe does not promote economic integration of children of immigrants. There are too many barriers against immigrants to obtaining higher education and good paying jobs. The truth is Europe wants the childern of immigrants to keep working in low skilled poor paying jobs like their parents did. Europe’s economy is closed and inflexible unlike the economy of the united states.

    Europeans have always been intolerant of religious and racial miniorities-case in point, look what happened to the jews and gypsies!

    Stop blaming islam for your bigotry. Europeans are bigoted towards african christians as well.

    Old old Europe-you need to change.

  • Here is an article on a French immigration law that will “force” African immigrants to “integrate” into French society:

    BBC: French immigration bill approved

    The proposed law… requires immigrants from outside the European Union to sign a contract agreeing to learn French and to respect the principles of the French Republic, and makes it more difficult for them to bring their families over to join them.

    • Only the qualified get “skills and talents” residency permit
    • Foreigners only allowed in to work, not live off benefits
    • Foreign spouses to wait longer for residence cards
    • Migrants must agree to learn French
    • Migrants must sign ‘contract’ respecting French way of life
    • Scraps law on workers getting citizenship after 10 years

    Mr Sarkozy has argued that riots by youths in immigrant suburbs across France last November showed the system of immigration and integration was failing.

    He says France, like a number of other Western countries, needs to choose the immigrants it needs.

    Most immigrants living in France come from its former African colonies.

  • Joseph Conrad

    In the US, Mexican Americans are the equivalent of Muslim immigrants in Europe. The US ‘Captains of Industry’ have used and continue to use ‘Chicanos’ to break American Unions. This is particularly true in the meat industry (Swift, Hormel, Tyson Foods, etc.).

    Only the Wealthy and the Euro-American ‘near-do-wells’ wants ‘Chicano’ immigrants in the US to break and keep out unions, suppress wages and generate low-cost profts.
    Bush and his Oil Buddies would have ‘Chicanos’ working on every Oil Rig in the US if they could! Otherwise, he and the other US wealthy would shoot ’em on sight!

  • LRRP

    why do u go to other countries when you have a country of your own? i mean its alright if u r doing as a high skilled labourer. for example my dad was invited by University of Uppsala for assisting a team of researchers there but soon as he did it he came back home.

  • Johan

    Look what is happening South Africa. Slowly(?) but surely they are sliding down the drain. Education, health, police everything is corrupt. If the west talk about it they want to solve it the african way. And when it fails the west must bail them out. Zimbabwe, why cant they get rid of the tyran. They rather flee to south africa.Always the easy way out. No brians to solve their problems. If they dont get their way they kill or vandalize it. And the west always get involve. Why not leave them cut comunication tie to africa. Come back in 100 yrs and start all over again. Africa should be seen as a game reserve for the rest of the world.

  • Champ

    Sorry Johan, but you are mistaken big time. Your problem is that Zimbabwe is not getting rid of Mugabe and that’s a Western problem. Mugabe himself is only 1 man. The problem is bigger than that. The West’s attitude towards Zimbabweans is a disgrace to say the least. When Mugabe dies, the West will be happy but it will be a sad day for Africans.

    Why didn’t the Americans get rid of Bush the war criminal and tyrant? One man is never the problem. The west just has scores to settle with Mugabe.

Join the conversation

Authors, please log in »


  • All comments are reviewed by a moderator. Do not submit your comment more than once or it may be identified as spam.
  • Please treat others with respect. Comments containing hate speech, obscenity, and personal attacks will not be approved.