The Man Who Ran FranafriqueIssue: Fall 1997
On the morning of March 19, 1997, an eighty-three year old Frenchman died in an apartment on the rue de Prony, in the 17th arrondissement of Paris, after suffering for several years from Parkinson's disease. Such was the legend of Jacques Foccart that, while his period of greatest influence had been thirty years earlier, the death sent tremors through all of French-speaking Africa. Indeed, the tremors were far stronger there than in France itself, even though the only biography of him, L'Homme de l'Ombre (Man of the Shadows) by Pierre PŽan, was subtitled "The most mysterious and most powerful man of the Fifth Republic." For those involved with what has come to be known nowadays as "Franafrique", denoting the special French sphere of influence in Africa, many, along with Albert Bourgi of Jeune Afrique, saw Foccart's death as "the end of an epoch."