When I was still in high school, one day in history class I came across a picture in our schoolbook: cheerful people, arms in the air, with a contagious smile on their face.
Underneath, a little explanation : « Mayotte, the 101st French department – On March the 29th of 2009, 95,2% of Mahorais voted YES to the referendum that makes their island a French department, and no longer a COM [Collectivité d’Outre-mer : overseas collectivity]. The mainland counts 96 departments, the overseas count five including Mayotte ».
I had nothing to complain about, until one afternoon, weeks later, in a completely odd way, I stumbled across a newspaper article which described the social and economic situation of the Comoros Republic. The author blamed France. And at first, I didn’t understand it.
Then I read the entire article. And I started to shake from anger. And disappointment. And despise.
Comoros used to be a French colony. Later on, in the seventies, the French Government asked the Comorians if they wanted to get their independency.
It seems okay for now, doesn’t it? I too like the idea of a colony becoming independent. No, sorry. I love the idea. French people do not seem to be aware of how much of q crime colonization is. So when the French took the decision to ask for an opinion, when a possibility for Comoros to speak up and actually decide what it wanted appeared at the time, that should have given us progress.
Instead, an outrageous colonialist thing happened. Mayotte, one of the four islands of the Comoros archipelago, became a COM, an overseas collectivity of France.
A referendum was indeed held in 1974 to know whether or not the Comoros wanted to be an independent nation. And the result did come in and about 95% of the Comorian people decided to be independent. Did the Government act as it should have? Did the French politicians allowed a colonized nation to be free as it voted for? No. Some decided in an illegitimate and illegal way to split Comoros in order to keep Mayotte.
« On what grounds?” will you ask. 65% of Mahorais had voted NO to the independency. Defying the accords and agreements on the Comoros issue, the French Government just could not help taking ownership of a land that did not even belong to France in the first place. They said they would just acknowledge and consider the results of each island, destroying forever the unity and integrity of the future Comoros Republic.
Several consequences followed. France created in 1995 the ‘visa Balladur’ which made it illegal for other Comorians to enter Mayotte, making these other Comorians clandestine in their own country. Also, in 2009, by a referendum organized just like that by Paris, Mayotte became a French department, leaving Comoros even more torn.
This situation that completely divided a same archipelago is repulsive to me. What France did would be the same as cancelling the result of an election because one county voted massively against the winner! France acted against the United Nations’ warnings and proved once again to be, still, a colonialist nation full of racist people who think they can get away with anything. France denies it all. France spends a lot of time bragging about how much of a fair and equal society it has, but it will not admit how much wrong it has done, and how much it always serves its colonialist empire interests first. Meanwhile, it will pretend to act in favor of a much-needed decolonization when it actually refuses to admit colonization is wrong! [cf. the 2005 project of law praising the “positive role” of colonization, for instance].
However, if I named this post ‘propaganda’, it is because I find it even more terrifying that my schoolbook failed in telling me any of this. It only showed this photo where everyone looks happy and completely missed the point: Mayotte should never have been French. Mayotte is Comorian. Yet none of that is even implied in this book. If I had not discovered the newspaper article, I would never have acknowledged this entire masquerade.
So I would like to underline how easy it is for us to be manipulated. Omission is a form of manipulation, and to fight against that, we must inform ourselves, read from all kinds of newspapers and media. Otherwise we trap ourselves in dangerous content, dangerous prejudices, and dangerous ignorance. Not knowing is painless, but eventually we become unaware of everything. Do not trust what you see; do your research first.
- the original article by Hassane Moindjié :
- the cover of the same article by the Courrier International :
- -my schoolbook from where I took the picture :
« Histoire – Terminale ES/L, programme de 2012 » in the collection Guillaume Le Quintrec by the publishing house Nathan (page 311)
I would recommend copying and pasting the articles in Google Translate : it does not give a perfect result, obviously, but a tolerable one most of the time.