During this current Discipling Marketplace Leaders trip in West and Central Africa, we will be in four francophone (French-speaking) countries: Togo, Cameroon, Burkina Faso, and Cote d’Ivoire. While I learned a bit of French growing up in Canada, there is always extra stress when you are in places that speak very little English. We have to have all of our materials translated (and updated as we are always seeking to improve them), projectors projecting in both languages, translators, and more.
But of course, there are other differences beyond language. One of the differences has to do with the impact of colonization in these two areas. When working in Anglophone (English) Africa, we hear less and less talk about the impact of colonization (most of which ended in the 1960s). But in Francophone Africa, I still seem to hear a lot of references to the impact of colonization which seems to still be felt directly today.
I have placed a map of the countries that colonized Africa as of 1939 (also knowns as the “Scramble for Africa), and the major color in West and Central Africa is purple, which is France.
There seems to be good reason for the different realities today based on the country of colonization. France seemed to make an effort toward full assimilation, colonizing not only the economic resources of a country but also the culture. France desired to change the colonies at a much deeper level, from faith to dress to food and more.
English colonists tended to give much more freedom as long as English law was followed and loyalty was given to the King.
From those with whom I speak in Francophone Africa, this has had an impact on work and jobs. In Francophone Africa, because of the lack of freedom, people seem to be more risk-averse and less inclined to start a business. Also because of the lack of independence, success was found in finding work at an existing business and not working for oneself. There was a stifling of creativity, of flourishing, and of thriving.
This is not to say that things were perfect in countries colonized by the British, but it is one difference that seems to have trickled on through the generations!
Francophone Africa also complains that it has been neglected by the evangelical world. This is largely due to the low percent of Protestantism in colonizing countries of France and Belgium. Francophone Africa has been through (and continues to go through) significant violence in the past decades, with a great expansion of Islam as well.
There is therefore great opportunity and great need. As the Lausanne Movement writes, “The future of the Church in the French-speaking world depends upon the Church in French-speaking Africa.”
That is why DML has hired French speaking leaders like Dr. Sublime and Rachel Mabiala as our African coordinators.
That is why DML is focused on growing in and through Francophone Africa.
And that is why we covet your prayers so that we can continue to equip and empower the French-speaking Church.
During this visit we hope to connect with Campus Crusade for Christ in Togo and Cameroon, and with the Assemblies of God in Burkina Faso and Cote d’Ivoire. Both are very influential ministries with the potential to carry the message of work as worship far and wide in the church gathered and scattered.