Originally published 08/15/2013
In January 2013, France sent a few thousand troops to Mali in a bid to combat rebel fighters who had seized control of the north of the country and were threatening to advance on the capital.The intervention shed light on some of France's historical relationships with its former colonies. But what do the country's historic ties with Africa say about its recent political moves?Dr Lansine Kaba is a distinguished scholar, writer and professor of history at Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar. He is the recipient of the distinguished Melville J. Herskovits Prize for best work in English in African Studies. Al Jazeera's Heather Roy spoke to this leading historian on Africa about the France-Africa connection and what role, if any, this relationship plays today.Al Jazeera: What does the term 'Francafrique' mean?Lansine Kaba: Francafrique involves a complex web of relations that have made France a major player in the affairs of many African countries and even of the African Union. Through the networks of this largely “opaque conglomerate”, France, a founding member of the UN Security Council and the World Bank, can boast a significant global influence that extends far beyond the French-speaking states.