The French-backed CFA franc has been a painful reminder of colonialism in many West and Central African countries. The debate has raged on over the currency for a while now, as critics say that the currency has hampered economic growth in these countries while France profits.
Created in 1945 the currency is used in 14 African countries, 12 of which are former French colonies.
This debate has been reignited as several West African artists came together to record a song against the currency, which was released on the 20th of June in Dakar. The song is called “Sept Minutes Contre le CFA” (“Seven Minutes against the CFA Franc” in English) and is available on Soundcloud, Youtube, and other social media platforms.
The song was made by ten artists from seven countries, rappers, singers, and slam poets. They express themselves in Wolof, Bambara, English and French. According to the description of the music video they have picked up their pens to support a common cause, “the economic sovereignty of francophone countries by the west,” calling the CFA franc “the currency of servitude to France.”
The music videos features Kmal Radji, Daba Makourejah, Romeji Mc, Black Mojah, Moona, Saah Karim, Nitt Doff, Jah Moko, Elom 20ce, and Samyone.
Elom 20ce, Togolese rapper and activist has said about the song: “I think that the CFA franc represents a currency for monkeys. It’s a metaphor to say that it’s a currency that does not represent us. We are still seen as monkeys, as animals. It’s not a currency that represents our economies. I think that today, it’s very important to reclaim ourselves.”
The artists have decided that “the FCFA must die,” and they are celebrating, “its funeral.” They also however simply want to get people debating on the subject, people who are not typically involved.
“We decided to make this song against the CFA franc because we want to democratize the subject. The CFA is a question that is left to the elites, the economists. We thought it would be interesting to democratize the debate.”
The other side of the debate argues that the currency fosters stability. Those who support the CFA zone argue that African countries have the choice to leave whenever they would like, but it is in their best interest to stay for the sake of having stable currency and low inflation rates.
“At the moment, we can say that CFA franc is a currency that guarantees us a certain security, especially when it comes to protecting us against structural economic shocks and it allows us to compete and to trade internationally, in a world that is increasingly globalised,” said Thomas Koumou an economist based in Lome.
He estimates the African countries are not ready to have their own currency. It believes that it might be a “suicidal” move for the African economy.
France has said that it’s leaving the decision up to its former colonies.